US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman & Yachtswoman of the Year Awards ceremony returned to the iconic New York Yacht Club in Manhattan to celebrate the sailing accomplishments of Terry Hutchinson and Stephanie Roble.
The honorees, formally announced in January after being chosen for their outstanding on-water sailing accomplishments in 2014, were joined by family, friends, sailing dignitaries, fellow sailors and members of the media for a special luncheon program.
The event included multi-media retrospectives of each winner’s sailing life followed by presentations of specially engraved stainless steel and platinum Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Masters, symbolic of achievement in excellence, by Rolex Watch U.S.A.’s President & CEO Stewart Wicht.
Stephanie Roble_credit Dan LjungsvikLWM
In an emotional speech, Roble, age 25 and a first-time winner, stressed how important teamwork has been in getting to this point in her life and particularly this past year in securing the 2014 Etchells World Championship (as crew) and the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship (as skipper) while working her way to the top of the latter discipline’s U.S. rankings. (In the world, she is currently ranked third.)
“I feel so lucky to be a part of a lot of teams; teamwork is what I’m in love with right now,” said Roble, whose current goal is to win the Women’s Match Racing World Championship in July with crew Janel Zarkowsky and Maggie Shea. “You need your team to be successful; this award is for all of them.
“I’m beyond the moon excited right now. This is such a special award, and to see all the sailors who’ve won this before and to join this list means so much to me. It’s extremely motivating.”
Roble added that it makes her laugh thinking that her first connection to sailing was when she was born. “When my parents first brought me home from the hospital, my dad sailed his MC Scow on our tiny home lake in Lake Beulah with ‘It’s a Girl!’ written on the sail. Little did he know this gesture was indicative of what was to come.”
Hutchinson on Bella Mente_ Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup14_credit RolexCarlo Borlenghi
Hutchinson, who is 46 and won this honor in 2008 as well, jetted with Hap Fauth straight from the finish line at the Caribbean 600 where Bella Mente took overall and class victories.
He pointed out several sailing mentors in the luncheon audience (among them his father, Gary Jobson, Doug DeVos, coach James Lyne, Alex Roepers, and Jim Richardson) who have helped him develop the instinct for doing the right things at the right time.
As the current Rolex Farr 40 and TP52 World Champion, Hutchinson said winning the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award this second time around was “different because of how it all happened.”
“It was quite a hard thing emotionally not going all the way through with the last America’s Cup,” said Hutchinson, who “bounced back” to have an exceptional 2014 racing season on the water.
“In some ways, it’s not how you get knocked down but how you get back up that’s going to be the measure. It’s a testament to the owners and their faith and trust in the process that we apply to win races. What they have placed in my hands and what they have provided me as an opportunity to do on their behalf is not taken lightly.”
As Roble did, Hutchinson thanked the New York Yacht Club and Rolex, saying about the latter: You are a tremendous asset to sailing and it’s a privilege to have this relationship with you.”
US Sailing President Tom Hubbell, Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Stephanie Roble, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson and Stewart Wicht, President & CEO of Rolex Watch U.S.A. (Photo Credit Rolex/Daniel Forster)
The two sailors topped a shortlist of ten men and seven women who were nominated by members of US Sailing and then evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists to determine who was most worthy of America’s highest sailing distinction for the calendar year.
Jobson, who has been MC at the luncheon for the last 15 years, noted that the list of nominees grows in stature every year, reinforcing how well American sailors are doing both nationally and internationally.
Past winners in attendance were Brian Porter (2013), Dawn Riley (1999) and Cory Sertl (1995, 2001). Porter and Riley had the honor of formally introducing Hutchinson and Roble, respectively, to the audience.
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 iconic Model Room of the New York Yacht Club's historic 44th Street clubhouse
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.