Please select your home edition
Edition
Helm Events 728x90

US Sailing unveils Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year

by Jake Fish on 27 Feb 2013
Left to Right: 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the year Jennifer French and Rolex Yachtsman of the year Johnny Heineke Tom O'Neal / Rolex
US Sailing Rolex Award Ceremony 2013. At an emotional ceremony today at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, Johnny Heineken (Larkspur, Calif.) and Jennifer French (St. Petersburg, Fla.) were celebrated as US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Formally announced in January after being chosen for their outstanding on-water sailing accomplishments in 2012, the honorees were joined by family, friends, sailing dignitaries, fellow sailors and members of the media for a luncheon program.

The event was emceed by former US Sailing President Gary Jobson and the luncheon included a multi-media retrospective of their rise to the top of the sport. Heineken, the 2012 Kiteboarding Course Racing World Champion, and French, the 2012 Paralympic Silver Medalist in the SKUD-18 class, each gave heartfelt speeches after being awarded specially engraved stainless steel and platinum Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Masters, symbolic of their achievements in excellence, by Rolex Watch U.S.A. President and CEO Stewart Wicht.

I am so honored to be amongst the fantastic sailors who were nominated in 2012 and even more honored to win,' said French. 'It’s a huge move forward for disabled sailing, the only sport where sailors can leave their wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs behind and go out and compete against able-bodied people; that’s why it attracts me.' French took several seconds to leave her own wheelchair to stand during her acceptance speech, utilizing a neuroprosthetic system she helped pioneer after a 1998 snowboarding accident left her a quadriplegic.



French called her Paralympic silver medal performance 'a fantastic journey' and said she couldn’t have done it without crew JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and many others who supported them. 'We were standing on their shoulders and fortunate for our outcomes. To gain a silver medal…it was not only an honor to represent Team USA but also an honor to follow in the footsteps of (2005 Rolex Yachtsman) Nick Scandone and his legend as well.' Scandone’s wife, Mary Kate Scandone, had introduced French, saying, 'For Jen to achieve her goals as a disabled sailor is amazing.' Nick Scandone, who died in 2009, won a Paralympic gold medal and was the first-ever disabled sailor named for this award. French is the second.

Heineken took the stage after being introduced by 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Bill Hardesty, who said, 'Johnny has taken kiteboarding to the next level; he makes it look easy.' In fact, Heineken is a back-to-back kiteboarding course racing world champion (2011, 2012) after spending most of his life windsurfing and sailing. It wasn’t until 2009, that he learned to kiteboard.

'Kiteboarding is an evolution of sailing, not a new sport,' said Heineken, 'and the fact that everyone is seeing it that way is pretty special. I’m amazed to have my name added to a list of sailors I’ve grown up idolizing.'

Heineken said winning one world championship was exciting but it was about 'giving it a little more last year to win again' that was especially fulfilling. 'Sailing has always been about speed to me,' he said, adding that he started out windsurfing with his father and progressed to racing a 29er in high school. 'I’ve been working with the best guys to stay on top of the game, and I’m fortunate that many of them are from the Bay Area here. We’re seeing the sport take off, on the racing side especially; people are noticing they can go sailing in lighter and lighter conditions and still have fun. Kiteboard course racing is popping up all over in little clusters of local fleets.'



Heineken also gave St. Francis Yacht Club credit for pioneering the running of kiteboarding races locally. This was the second consecutive year that the awards were presented at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. since 1980, US Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards are considered the sport's ultimate recognition of an individual’s outstanding on-the-water achievements for the calendar year. The process of determining the recipients starts each September when US Sailing invites its membership to make online nominations. A shortlist of nominees is then reviewed by a panel of noted sailing journalists who discuss the merits of each nominee and vote to determine the winners. Over its history the coveted award has been presented to 41 men and 34 women.

Ambiance at the St. Francis Yacht Club © Tom O'Neal / Rolex
Ambiance at the St. Francis Yacht Club © Tom O'Neal / Rolex
US Sailing Rolex Award
Southern Spars - 100Barz Optics - FloatersAncasta Ker 40+ 660x82

Related Articles

Vendee Globe- No tethers in Southern Ocean?
I was interested to see that Seb is wearing neither a pfd nor a harness while racing in the Southern Ocean. Take a look at this pic of Seb Josse racing in the Vendée Globe. He is in the Southern Ocean sailing in rough seas and I imagine he is hitting speeds in the mid-twenties. I know what it’s like to sail down there. I have done numerous Southern Ocean transits and I know it to be an unforgiving region. So I was interested to see that Seb is wearing neither a pfd nor a harness. Interesting.
Posted today at 7:59 am
Sailing World Cup Final - Finn racers put to the test
The top Finn racers at the Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover are putting each other to the test The top Finn racers at the Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover are putting each other to the test and for Rio 2016 Olympians Jake Lilley (AUS) and Caleb Paine (USA), it's business as usual after a period of rest.
Posted today at 7:03 am
Sailing World Cup Final - Finn racers put to the test
The top Finn racers at the Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover are putting each other to the test The top Finn racers at the Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover are putting each other to the test and for Rio 2016 Olympians Jake Lilley (AUS) and Caleb Paine (USA), it's business as usual after a period of rest.
Posted today at 7:03 am
Vendee Globe - Rescuers in the zone
The evacuation of the skipper de Pavant is expected to start around daybreak once there is sufficient light. The Marion Dufresne, the research and supply vessel which serves the remote French islands in the South Indian Ocean, has arrived close to the stricken French skipper Kito De Pavant. The evacuation of the skipper de Pavant is expected to start around daybreak once there is sufficient light.
Posted today at 6:11 am
Sailing World Cup Melbourne - Volunteers, the source of energy
Energy is not something that can always be measured, but strength that volunteers in sailing bring is critical to events Energy is not something that can always be measured, but the strength and vitality that so many volunteers in sailing bring to the events that and clubs that they help out is an amazing resource that is critical to events such as Sailing World Cup Melbourne.
Posted today at 3:54 am
Sailing World Cup Melbourne - Volunteers, the source of energy
Energy is not something that can always be measured, but strength that volunteers in sailing bring is critical to events Energy is not something that can always be measured, but the strength and vitality that so many volunteers in sailing bring to the events that and clubs that they help out is an amazing resource that is critical to events such as Sailing World Cup Melbourne.
Posted today at 3:54 am
SWC Final - Melbourne - Nicholas Heiner follows famous dad into Finn
Former Laser world champion Nicholas Heiner is competing at his first international event in a new class he hopes Former Laser world champion Nicholas Heiner is competing at his first international event in a new class he hopes to medal in for the Netherlands at the Olympic Games, just like his father did 20 years ago in Atlanta, USA.
Posted today at 3:03 am
SWC Final - Melbourne - Nicholas Heiner follows famous dad into Finn
Former Laser world champion Nicholas Heiner is competing at his first international event in a new class he hopes Former Laser world champion Nicholas Heiner is competing at his first international event in a new class he hopes to medal in for the Netherlands at the Olympic Games, just like his father did 20 years ago in Atlanta, USA.
Posted today at 3:03 am
Vendee Globe - Kito de Pavant believed to have been lifted off
Marion Dufresne, the research and supply vessel has arrived close to the stricken French skipper Kito De Pavant Vendee Globe race control advised earlier at the Marion Dufresne, the research and supply vessel which serves the remote French islands in the South Indian Ocean, has arrived close to the stricken French skipper Kito De Pavant. The evacuation of the skipper de Pavant was expected to start around daybreak once there is sufficient light.
Posted today at 2:57 am
Vendee Globe - Rescue plan for stricken de Pavant + onboard Video
French skipper Kito de Pavant was enduring an anxious wait this afternoon aboard Bastide Otio after he struck an object French skipper Kito de Pavant was enduring an anxious wait this afternoon aboard his Bastide Otio after he struck an object which destroyed his keel housing, ripped off his aft keel mountings and left the appendage supported only by the hydraulic keel ram.
Posted on 6 Dec