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US Sailing names One Design, Adaptive, Training, and Community Sailing awardees

by US Sailing 9 Feb 2023 15:09 PST
US Sailing names One Design, Adaptive, Training, and Community Sailing awardees © US Sailing

US Sailing awarded the annual Adaptive, Training, Community Sailing, and One Design Awards this past week at the Sailing Leadership Forum in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

Adaptive, Training, and Community Sailing Awards were given during a luncheon on February 4, while One Design Awards were given on February 3. Awardees were nominated by their peers in the sailing community through a public nomination form.

One Design (Presented by Chris Snow, One Design Classes Committee Chair)

  • The One Design Creativity Award - Eric Bussell (Philo, IL)
  • The One Design Club Award - Mission Bay Yacht Club (Mission Bay, CA)
  • The One Design Regatta Award - Kristen Zillman and San Diego Yacht Club (San Diego, CA), for the Women's Winter Invitational
  • The John H. Gardiner Jr. Service and Leadership Award - Rob Bowden, ILCA District 12 (Charleston, SC)

Adaptive (Presented by Peter Goldman, US Sailing Para Sailing Committee Member and President of the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation)

  • Robie Pierce Award - Challenged Sailors San Diego (San Diego, CA)
  • Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy - Presented posthumously to Lance Hinrichs


  • Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction - New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS) (Stonington, CT)

Community Sailing

  • Excellence in Instruction - Annie Longo (Groton, CT)
  • Jim Kilroy Award for Outstanding Outreach & Inclusion - Don Rotzien (New York, NY)
  • Creative Innovations in Programming - Mystic Seaport Museum Sailing Center (Mystic, CT)
  • More than 10 Years of Hallmark Performance - Center for Wooden Boats (Seattle, WA)
  • Volunteer of the Year - Rosemary Hobart (Hampton, VA)
  • Outstanding Program Director - Whitney Kent (Sheboygan, WI)
  • Outstanding Organizational Leader - Matt Thompson (Wayzata, MN)
  • Outstanding Community Sailing Program - Green Bay Sail and Paddle (Green Bay, WI)
  • Martin A. Luray Award - Jessica Koenig (Charleston, SC)

One Design Creativity Award
Eric Bussell (Philo, IL)

The One Design Creativity award celebrates innovation and creativity in the promotion of One Design sailing. Past winners have included unique and new regatta formats as well as new and innovative products to support sailing. This year's recipient, Eric Bussell, created a digital coaching system allowing the replay of races showing the speed, heading and heel angles for multiple boats simultaneously. Also included is onboard video and audio as well as an overlay of the boats on the course. During playback the competitors and others can comment directly so all are learning. Bussell's system, which is hosted at, shows much promise for helping sailors in all classes and fleets improve in a collaborative way. "Now, good ideas are creative and all, but the best ideas are the ones followed by results," said Bussell in his acceptance speech. "We certainly need to be open to new and creative ideas and evolve if we want sailing to grow and thrive."

The One Design Club Award
Mission Bay Yacht Club (Mission Bay, CA)

The One Design Club Award is given to a yacht club or organized group that has shown effort and leadership in the promotion and growth of One Design sailing. This year's recipient is a previous winner who has continued to impress the one design committee and the sailing world at large. In 2022, Mission Bay Yacht Club ran 151 days of racing, which includes hosting the High School Pacific Coast Championships, Double Handed Nationals, and the US Youth Championships. Also hosted were the Lido 14 Nationals (with 50 boats), and the Soling Nationals and PCC's. In addition, the club has a robust junior program and is the host of 5 active high school sailing teams. MBYC has recently produced 10 Club level PRO's with more in training.

All of this is done with few paid staff and a ton of volunteer support from members. Mission Bay Yacht Club truly sets an example for others to follow. Vice Commodore and Lido Class Association President, Kathy Dryden, accepted the award on behalf of the MBYC membership. "Thank you to our members who served as PROs, regatta chairs, race committee, handled registration, parking, meals, lodging, repaired and replaced equipment," remarked Dryden. "Also, to the San Diego Association of Yacht Clubs for their help with RC boats and coaches at junior events and to our management, staff, board of directors and members for their leadership and unbridled enthusiasm."

The One Design Regatta award
Kristen Zillman and San Diego Yacht Club for the Women's Winter Invitational (San Diego, CA)

The One Design Regatta award recognizes an outstanding event in the promotion of participation in One Design sailing. The award recognizes creativity in the management and running of a one design regatta. This year the award is given to Kristen Zillman and San Diego Yacht Club for creating and hosting the Women's Winter Invitational. Started in 2018, is two days of women-only racing and camaraderie right off the dock in San Diego using the clubs' fleet of J/22's. The event is limited to 24 teams of four and is regularly oversubscribed. Participation has grown to include sailors from all parts of the US. It is sailed in a round robin format with those not sailing cheering from shore.

Extracurricular activities have been known to include morning yoga and a mimosa bar, and it all take place in February in Southern California when there is little sailing in other parts of the country. Zillman said in prepared remarks: "the fierce competition, challenging racing, and cheerful camaraderie continue to bring women back together again and again."

The John H. Gardiner Jr. Service and Leadership Award
Rob Bowden - ILCA District 12 (Charleston, SC)

The John H. Gardiner Jr. Service and Leadership Award recognizes outstanding efforts by an individual promoting participation in One Design sailing. John started and ran the Red Lobster Cup in central Florida in the early to mid '80's which attracted over 600 sailors across a range of classes. Featuring clinics run by professionals combined with great parties and sponsors, John's enthusiasm was a great contribution to sailing.

This year's awardee is Rob Bowden from Charleston, South Carolina. Since 2017, Bowden has been the District Secretary of ILCA district 12 comprising North and South Carolina and Georgia. At the time Bowden took over, attendance was waning with regattas in the district struggling to get more than 10 boats. Under Bowden's leadership, participation is now greatly improved with over 150 sailors participating in the District's overall series. He has done this by, among other things, promoting clinics for sailors of all levels, consistent communication and by encouraging junior sailors in the ILCA 4 and 6 fleets. As one of Bowden's nominators put it: "Rob is a humble, down to earth, unassuming leader who maintains a good-natured approach to any challenge. He sees the best in everyone and strives to be inclusive and encouraging at all times."

Robie Pierce Award
Challenged Sailors San Diego (San Diego, CA)

The Robie Pierce Award is awarded to a sailing program that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing for sailors with disabilities. This year the Robie Pierce Award was given to Challenged Sailors San Diego, a non-profit, all-volunteer program founded in 2014. Receiving the award is President Peter Phillips, who leads the program, which has a fleet of eight Martin 16's and one Skud-18. US Sailing certified instructors are available and there is no cost for the sailing lessons. There is a strong presence of volunteers, with an average of two volunteers for every participant. Both individuals and groups participate, with the year-round program serving over 1,300 people in 2022. Challenged Sailors has also established relationships with local yacht clubs, prompting their sailors to be invited to participate in local regattas.

Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy
Receiving the trophy on behalf of Lance Hinrichs, Widow Ann "Downey" Hinrichs

The Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy is awarded to an individual or an organization, selected by the US Sailing Para Sailing Committee, as having made an outstanding contribution to sailors with disabilities and to the sport of disabled sailing over a sustained period of time. This year's award was given posthumously to Lance Hinrichs. Hinrichs grew up around the sport of sailing and was one of the most competitive yet friendly skippers on the water. Sailing became an important outlet for Hinrichs after he became paralyzed in an accident during college. Hinrichs became a substantial contributor to disabled sailing both as an active competitor and leader. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Annapolis-based adaptive sailing organization Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) for 20 years, serving in positions of Vice President and President, where he was instrumental in laying out a solid foundation for its successful future.

Lance Hinrichs made over 30 years of significant contributions to disabled sailing, leaving a significant legacy for a skipper, father, husband, and friend to all. His nominator, Bill Sandberg, noted in his nomination "Nobody worked harder for adaptive sailing than Lance. Even after his term as President was over, he continued to work on behalf of CRAB. And he always did it with that wonderful smile on his face."

Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction
New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS) (Stonington, CT)

The Captain Joe Prosser Award, given in honor of the lifetime achievements of the Merchant Marine Academy's first sailing master, is awarded to an organization which has, in the opinion of the US Sailing Education Committee, made an exemplary contribution toward improving the quality and safety in the training or instruction of sailors. This year's recipient is New England Science and Sailing, which is celebrating its twentieth year of sailing instruction, leadership excellence, and tireless work expanding the sport of sailing, with a particular emphasis supporting under-represented students. Each year they educate thousands of students ranging in age from five years old to adult. Their students learn sailing fundamentals through the US Sailing curriculum to which they deliberately attach critical social and emotional learning skills which come via additional programming that has been accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

This combination of learning elements instills in students a life-long passion for sailing, and a much greater sense of confidence, teamwork, and persistence in the face of difficulties.

Excellence in Instruction
Annie Longo (Groton, CT)

The Excellence in Instruction Award recognizes an individual that has consistently demonstrated excellence in instructing, training, or making presentations at local, regional, or national seminars, conferences, or workshops. This year's recipient, Annie Longo, has been an instructor, race coach, and head instructor at junior sailing programs in the Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association (ECSA) since 2014. She has worked at Wadawanuck Club, Groton Long Point Yacht Club, Ram Island Yacht Club, and with the MudRatz. Longo has contributed much to ECSA, including an effort to reduce the environmental impact of their junior regattas, and the development of a weekly junior newsletter, which was cited as contributing to a 44% increase in 2022 ECSA youth participation.

One student wrote in her nomination: "Annie has taught me many more things than just sailing. She has taught me to always put my best foot forward, and to be kind to everyone, even if you don't get along with that person."

Jim Kilroy Award for Outstanding Outreach & Inclusion
Don Rotzien (New York, NY)

The Jim Kilroy Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion Award, named in honor of Mr. John B. "Jim" Kilroy, Sr., is given annually to a Program Director or Program that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing by finding and including people in their program that would normally have no access to sailing. This year's recipient is Don Rotzien, Director of Operations and Community Programs at Hudson River Community Sailing (HRCS), and past Chair of the Community Sailing Committee. Rotzien has worked in New York City since 2014 overseeing a variety of programs at HRCS. With his help, HRCS is building a diverse community where everyone is respected, empowered, and supported in their growth. Rotzien is at the helm of community programs that provide STEM education, Sail Training, and incredible opportunities for high school students through staff training, curriculum, and partnerships.

Creative Innovations in Programming
Mystic Seaport Museum Sailing Center (Mystic, CT)

The Creative Innovations in Programming Award recognizes those programs, or individuals, who have successfully found new, and different, methods for teaching sailing. When you hear the word innovation, museums are not typically what comes to mind first; however, this year's award recipient is anything but stuck in the past. Mystic Seaport Museum re-imagined the interchange between maritime heritage and broader contemporary culture. The Museum has never been a typical youth program as they have incorporated learning how to sail in traditional Dyer Dhow dinghies with fun games and challenges using the grounds of their historic seaport village and have been running a weeklong overnight sailing camp since 1949 aboard the Joseph Conrad. In the past five years, they have taken farther steps incorporating new programs to expand their reach and variety.

The extensive programs offered today range from half-day summer camps to 10-day long adventures aboard the schooner Brilliant. They connect sailing to everything from the history of trade to science, to nature, to design, to art, to building boats and other hands-on skills. They partner with their neighbors to provide hybrid experiences between sailing, water, and land activities to bring positive experiences to more young people.

More than 10 Years of Hallmark Performance
Center for Wooden Boats (Seattle, WA)

The More than 10 Years of Hallmark Performance Award is given annually to a program that has a track record of providing sailing education, training and public access to their community. This year's recipient is the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), a nonprofit maritime museum located on the southern shoreline of Lake Union in Seattle, WA. Their mission is to promote northwest maritime heritage through education, interpretation and hands-on experience in building, maintaining and using historic small craft. There are roughly 2,000 members, and admission is always free to everyone.

Their programs include wide-ranging youth and adult sailing programs, sailboat racing and public boat rentals. In addition, they offer charters; provide hands-on woodworking, boatbuilding, sail making, and other maritime skill programs to name a few. The youth program has recently expanded and in spring of 2022, CWB—in partnership with a local high school internship program—completed construction of three Lake Union Swifts, adding these 10-foot sailing dinghies to the youth program. With additional sailboats they were able to add ten week-long summer camps with 449 youth participating in summer camps this year.

This organization provides over $27,000 in youth sailing scholarships and was supported by more than 2,000 youth volunteer hours. To make the transformative experience of sailing available to more people, they routinely reach out to local organizations to partner up and help students find their way to the water.

Volunteer of the Year
Rosemary Hobart (Hampton, VA)

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes an individual whose contributions went 'above and beyond' while not receiving any financial compensation. The person who nominated Rosemary Hobart for this award noted that it was almost impossible for them to pick a category, as she contributes to the success of Youth Sailing Virginia (YSV) in so many ways. She is a tireless volunteer, showing up to help run programming, supporting YSV booths at community events, and always lending her hand and experience with fundraising and development.

Hobart spent years building the Learn to Sail Program, incorporating STEM, and working with new sailing instructors to become strong leaders. This year, Youth Sailing Virginia was able to hire its first Sailing Director. Her passion for inclusion has led to the development of engagement opportunities for youth who might not otherwise have the chance to sail. Due to Hobart's efforts, YSV's summer programs reached 40% African American participation this year. As part of her community initiative "Learn to Swim to Learn to Sail,'' YSV's Water Safety and Survival course progressed African American high school students from non-swimmers to tested swimmers and ready to learn to sail. Hobart's efforts have developed partnerships with numerous organizations some of which include Boys and Girls Club of Virginia Peninsula, City of Hampton Parks Recreation and Leisure Services, Maritime Academy of Hampton High School, Alternatives Inc. and the Hampton Aquatics Center.

Outstanding Program Director
Whitney Kent (Sheboygan, WI)

The Outstanding Program Director Award is given annually to an individual that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing in the development and organization of a sailing program. This year's awardee, Whitney Kent, is the program director at Sheboygan Youth Sailing Center. With a focus on inclusivity, fun, and hard work, sailors and instructors are drawn to find their home within the sailing community and develop lifelong skills to be active members of their community. In the seven years that Kent has been at SYSC, she has nearly doubled the number of youths who have participated in the program, while tripling their retention rate. Kent created a program in which sailors are welcomed and celebrated for their individuality.

Since taking over the program, Whitney has increased SYSCs reach into the broader Sheboygan community by forming partnerships with the Sheboygan Area School Districts, the YMCA of Sheboygan, Kohler Experiential Learning Center and Camp Y-Koda, as well as was awarded the Siebel Sailors Program in 2019. She intentionally increased outreach and community engagement every Friday throughout the summer by offering Free Sail Fridays, where any youth sailor who has participated in at least one week of sailing lessons can come down to go sailing for the morning.

Outstanding Organizational Leader
Matt Thompson (Wayzata, MN)

Matt Thompson, the current Chair of the Community Sailing Committee and Executive Director of Wayzata Sailing, is an exceptional leader for Wayzata Sailing, the upper Midwest sailing region and the national sailing community. Wayzata Sailing is an Accredited Community Sailing Center as well as Minnesota's hub for instructor certification and continues to create new opportunities in STEM and sailing progression. Their commitment to community sailing means they prioritize access, equity, and inclusion alongside core safety and instruction principles. Thompson is the person front and center making all this possible for Wayzata. He has supported the organization through a huge transition with a new building while maintaining a positive attitude and assisting seasonal employees with introducing new program offerings like winging and foiling, fishing camps, a new city-based STEAM facility and classroom, and weekly recovery sailing with a nearby treatment center's alumni program. Little touches like a weekly 'nailed-it-award', boathouse dogs, and a vinyl-only music requirement create a sailing community unlike any other.

Outstanding Community Sailing Program
Green Bay Sail and Paddle (Green Bay, WI)

The Outstanding Community Sailing Program Award is given annually to a program that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing. This year's recipient is Green Bay Sail & Paddle (GBSP). GBSP is a non-profit organization with a mission to create learning opportunities for everyone to safely enjoy sailing and paddling on the bay of Green Bay. Since its inception, GBSP has provided this opportunity to over 5,500 students of all ages. Besides providing great programming to individuals in their local community, they have created a welcoming atmosphere for staff and volunteers. This organization knows that this may be their first job and takes every step they can to help guide and mentor them into future leaders. As a result, they provide a higher caliber of programming to students.

GBSP never hesitates to go the extra mile to ensure they are reaching those in the community who truly need them the most. Recently, they have been awarded Reach Initiative grants, incorporating STEM into their program.

Martin A. Luray Award
Jessica Koenig (Charleston, SC)

The Martin A. Luray Award, known as the "Marty," is presented annually to a deserving recipient who has made an outstanding and unselfish contribution to further public access sailing. Jessica Koenig, the recipient of this year's award, encompasses everything that the future of community sailing represents. She began her time in the sport's leadership young, becoming a Level 1 instructor at 16. She then coached at a variety of yacht clubs every summer from Annapolis, MD to Newport Beach, CA. In college she sailed on both the coed and women's teams at Washington College, where she was named Captain her senior year. After college, she coached at Charleston Yacht Club and ran a variety of programs for three years. At that time, she also started sailing the Melges 24 competitively locally then regionally. In 2007, she landed the position of Executive Director at Charleston Community Sailing (CCS), becoming one of a select few female Executive Directors of Sailing Centers in the US at the time.

At CCS, Koenig was responsible for financial and operational performance of the 501(c)(3), leading a staff of 10 and more than 100 volunteers to deliver the organizational mission. Koenig increased revenue growth by marketing fundraising events, deepening community engagement, and built sustainable strategic partnerships. Koenig tripled CCS's fleet of boats to 45 and increased annual participation from 150 to 1000 people.

Personally, Koenig has achieved much both in sailing and in her career. In 2013, she joined the ranks as a US Sailing Small Boat Level 1 Instructor Trainer. She served on the Small Boat National Faculty, helping to co-author the publication used in US Sailing's Level 3 Head Instructor course. At CCS she was an advocate for women's sailing, creating WOW (Women on the Water) to empower women through sailing. In 2017, she was awarded The More than 10 Years of Hallmark Performance Award for CCS by US Sailing. In 2018 she was awarded "40 Under 40" for her work with CCS from the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

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