ODU Alumni Sweep US SAILING's 2008 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards
Jan. 7, 2009
Courtesy of U.S. Sailing
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (January 7, 2009) - TP52 World Champion Terry Hutchinson and Laser Radial Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe today were named US SAILING's 2008 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. A shortlist of nine male and five female sailors - determined from nominations submitted by members of US SAILING - was evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists who selected these two sailors for the noteworthy distinction. Members of the panel agreed that it had been "quite a year" for American sailors.
Established in 1961 by US SAILING and sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A. since 1980, the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards recognize the outstanding on-the-water competitive achievement of an individual man and woman in the calendar year just concluded. The winners will be honored and presented with specially engraved Rolex timepieces during a luncheon on February 27, 2009, at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
Rolex Yachtsman of the Year - Terry Hutchinson (Annapolis, Md.) has been named the 2008 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, earning the coveted award on the fourth time he was shortlisted for the honor. Members of the selection panel remarked that in 2008 Hutchinson had "redefined himself" after he "emerged from the America's Cup to be an awesome fleet racer." (He was tactician aboard Emirates Team New Zealand in the 32nd America's Cup). Hutchinson got the year rolling as tactician aboard Jim Richardson's Farr 40 Barking Mad, which won Acura Key West and Acura Miami Grand Prix.
Switching to the TP52 and moving into the skipper's position, Hutchinson racked up four major victories in Europe, including the Trophy of Sardinia and Copa del Rey regattas, which led to his overall win of the Audi MedCup series. A month later, in Spain, Hutchinson crowned his stand-out season in the class by winning the TP52 World Championship aboard Quantum Racing.
"It is so hard to excel in different classes," said one member of the selection panel, who added that Hutchinson "beat a great number of competitors in a variety of boats." Top performances included his M30 class win at the Sperry Top-Sider Annapolis NOOD Regatta; Melges 24 victories at the North American Championship and the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta; and a third-place finish at the Melges 32 Gold Cup.
"This award is obviously an acknowledgement of a great year on the water," said Hutchinson. "But I would be incredibly remiss if I didn't acknowledge that it is a privilege to represent the bigger picture - the people I sail with and the teams on which I compete. I feel so strongly about the support they gave me; this wasn't just my achievement, it was the Barking Mad, Samba Pa Ti and Quantum Racing teams' too. Every morning I get up and go to work doing something that I love. Being recognized is just icing on the cake."
Accomplished sailor Nick Scandone (Fountain Valley, Calif.), who passed away January 2, 2009, also received top rankings by panel members. Scandone, winning skipper of the SKUD-18 Gold Medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games, had fought a valiant battle with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) in order to make it to China. While ALS ravaged his body, his determination to succeed won him legions of admirers as his unrelenting drive to attain his goal brought attention to disabled sailing and the sport overall.
"How could you not be moved by Nick's story?" said Hutchinson. "When you compare what any of the nominees did this year to the struggle that Nick had in order to achieve the same kind of accomplishments. To win a gold medal while going through the battle he had . . . there are no words that describe Nick's effort and determination."
Born and raised in Annapolis, Hutchinson first learned to sail at age three in a Dyer Dhow that was attached by a line to his parent's Concordia yawl. Going back and forth on the end of that line set him on a course to be a college star at Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.) where he earned Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) All-American honors four times (1987, `88, `89, `90) and was twice recognized as the College Sailor of the Year ('89 and '90). The 40-year-old father of three will next be seen aboard Barking Mad at Acura Key West Race 2009.
Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year - Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) has been named the 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. Nominated to the award's shortlist for the fourth consecutive year, she was the unanimous choice of the panel, all of whom ranked her first in the voting that determines the honoree. Cited by one panelist for "an unbelievable year" culminating with victory in China, Tunnicliffe rose in the world rankings in the Laser Radial class as she worked toward fulfilling her goal of winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
"I'm very, very excited," said Tunnicliffe on hearing that she was the 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. "It's a fantastic end to a great year."
Two performances that stood out for her as she reflected on events leading up to the competition in China included her win at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in The Netherlands and Kieler Woche in Germany. "The first event gave me the confidence that I could win in a good fleet," said Tunnicliffe. "It got me used to seeing a dot on my sail (colored dots - primarily used at the Olympic Regatta - identify the top-three fleet leaders during the competition), so I didn't feel the pressure from carrying them when I got to the Games. At Kiel I did poorly (finishing 14th out of 82 boats) and had three black-flag penalties. I had been working on my starts and was getting over-confident. That gave me a wake-up call that you can't push the line that much."
While warming up for the main event of her year, Tunnicliffe racked up some serious frequent flyer miles: from Florida and US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, where she finished second in a fleet of 39 boats, to New Zealand, where she placed sixth out of 116 boats at the Laser Radial World Championship, to France and the Semaine Olympique Francaise, where she picked up another second in that fleet of 78 boats.
Tunnicliffe arrived in China for the Olympic Games ranked number one in the world in the Laser Radial. After two races on the first competition day she carried a gold dot on her sail to signal her position as the fleet leader. After race five she slipped down to third in the 28-boat fleet before moving up to second overall after race six, which was completed in challengingly heavy winds. She followed a 15th-place finish in race seven with a pair of deuces, guaranteeing her place on the podium with only the medal color undecided. During the medal race on the final day of competition, Tunnicliffe fell back to ninth in the fleet before her correct read of a wind shift allowed her to regain lost ground. She crossed the finish line in second place to become a gold medalist at her first Olympic Games.
"Winning the Olympic medal was a dream, and branching out to other boats and expanding myself as a sailor is one of my goals. I want to win another gold medal for the U.S.A., but I think it will take more than just Laser sailing."
To that end her post-Olympic schedule has included a triathlon, some match racing (she won the ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final and the U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship, sailed, respectively, in J/22s and Sonars), and a return to dinghy sailing (she was second at the Snipe Women's World Championship in Spain). As 2008 drew to a close she once again showed her winning form in the Laser Radial by kicking off her training for the 2012 Olympics with a victory in Australia at Sail Melbourne, the first event in the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup.
The 26-year-old Tunnicliffe first came to national attention in 1997 as the youngest skipper in US SAILING's Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship. The native of England, then 14 years old, finished 13th among 36 teams representing eight nations. The Tunnicliffe family - her dad is a competitive sailor and mom a competitive marathon runner - sailed out of North Cape Yacht Club in Michigan. "I definitely get my competitiveness from my parents," she said upon being named the 2005 Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year. That recognition capped her college sailing career at Old Dominion University where she earned ICSA All-American honors three times (2003, '04, '05). Up next on Tunnicliffe's busy schedule, as she continues her Laser Radial campaign, is competing at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR in late January.
About Rolex Watch U.S.A. Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America's Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics preparation, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, offshore, one-design and women's events.
About US SAILING The United States Sailing Association (US SAILING) is the national governing body for sailing. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the organization provides leadership for the sport of sailing in the United States. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Teams. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.