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Tunnicliffe, Hutchinson win 2008 Rolex honors

Terry Hutchinson, TP52 world champion, and Laser Radial Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe were named US Sailing’s 2008 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year.

The awards recognize the outstanding on-the-water competitive achievement of an individual man and woman in the 2008 calendar year.

Members of the selection panel remarked that Hutchinson of Annapolis, Md., “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 started 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 capped his outstanding season in the class by winning the TP52 world championship aboard Quantum Racing.

Anna Tunnicliffe of Plantation, Fla., was cited by one panelist for “an unbelievable year” culminating with victory at the 2008 Olympic Games. Tunnicliffe was also named a US Sailing Athlete of the Year for 2008.

“I’m very, very excited,” said Tunnicliffe, 26. “It’s a fantastic end to a great year.”

During the medal race on the final day of competition, Tunnicliffe fell 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 clinch gold at her first Olympics.

Paralympic medalist was a great competitor

Paralympic gold medalist Nick Scandone of Fountain Valley, Calif., died Jan. 2 after a long battle with ALS.

Scandone, 42, won a gold medal with teammate Maureen McKinnon-Tucker in the SKUD-18 class at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Regatta in Qingdao, China.

ALS, commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“The sport of sailing has lost a great competitor and the most inspirational person most of us will ever know,” says Dean Brenner, Chairman of US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Program.

“It’s been such a long road to get [to the 2008 Games],” Scandone said after he won. “It’s emotionally overwhelming for me to finally realize my goal.”

When Soundings editor William Sisson spoke to him in 2006, Scandone was competing at the Disabled World Championship in Australia and was mounting his bid for the Paralympics in China. He told Sisson, “[ALS] doesn’t affect the mind at all. That’s the good part. And it can’t touch your soul. You just deal with the cards you’re dealt. … Sometimes things happen for a reason and make you stronger.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.

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