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A new home for sailing legends

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The new National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis, Md., will celebrate the sport, both past and present

The new National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis, Md., will celebrate the sport, both past and present

Cheered on by some of sailing’s most prominent voices, the City of Annapolis, Md., is creating a National Sailing Hall of Fame on its historic and picturesque waterfront.

Spearheaded by international sailing icon and Annapolis resident Gary Jobson and a handful of local enthusiasts, the Hall of Fame will “acknowledge excellence on the water, celebrate extraordinary achievements, inspire others, and get youth out there on the water,” says Jobson.

“If you believe as we do that the sport of sailing can be an inspiration to young and old … then you welcome the Hall of Fame,” says Buck Buchanan, a retired corporate executive, recreational sailor and president of the Hall of Fame. “Sailing does not have to be a rich man’s sport. You can buy a Sunfish or a Laser for less than $1,000. We want to broaden the appeal of the sport of sailing because we think it’s healthy for people to be involved with the environment and Mother Nature.”

The move for a Hall of Fame began in earnest in 2002. An actual hall became possible in December 2005, when Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. provided a waterfront building for the project. Jobson says the first exhibits will be ready when the Volvo Ocean Race visits Annapolis and Baltimore in April. The Hall of Fame eventually will take over a two-story house now used by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police. It will contain various displays and will have an archive of sailing records now scattered around the country, according to the organizers.

The December announcement was attended by George Hinman Jr., commodore of the New York Yacht Club; Janet Baxter, president of US Sailing, the sport’s national sanctioning body; and Halsey Herreshoff, president of the Herreshoff Museum — home to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame — in Bristol, R.I. Jobson is an NYYC board member, winner of US Sailing’s most prestigious award (the Herreshoff Trophy), and an inductee into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. He helped bring those organizations on board for the Annapolis hall.

“Annapolis and Gary and the people have grabbed this thing and ran with it,” says Hinman. “The important thing is it’s getting done.”

Baxter sees the Hall of Fame as a place to hold the sport’s history. “We [US Sailing] have 18 championships that are run every year,” she says. “Collecting that information and making an archive available … would be really helpful.”

Herreshoff sees the hall as a place to expand the message of his own America’s Cup Hall of Fame. “We’ve never had a hall of fame for general American yachting. We think it’s appropriate for that to be somewhere else [other than Rhode Island],” he says.

A budget or specific fund-raising goals had yet to be established for the project. “It’s hard to solicit funds when you don’t have a home,” says Buchanan. “In an informal way, we have solicited funds. But it becomes more formal now. We have a place we’ve planted our flag.”

The Hall of Fame will include exhibits featuring US Sailing’s yachtsmen and yachtswomen of the year and Herreshoff Award winners, as well as displays featuring the America’s Cup Hall of Fame and the Sailing World Hall of Fame. There are plans to develop educational programs in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; collect sailing artifacts, art, literature, film and other material on the history of the sport; and create an Internet-based “exhibit and experience” in addition to the permanent gallery. The non-profit organization also plans community sailing programs, lectures and workshop, and will host an annual Sailing World Hall of Fame Regatta. www.nationalsailinghalloffame.org