After three years on the West Coast, the annual US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman & Yachtswoman of the Year Awards ceremony returned Thursday to the iconic Model Room at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
The event honored the accomplishments of two skillful sailing tacticians, Terry Hutchinson, of Annapolis, Md., and Stephanie Roble, of East Troy, Wis.
The touching ceremony saw both winners choke up with emotion, as did the colleagues who introduced the honorees (1999 winner Dawn Riley and 2013 winner Brian Porter) to a packed house of family, friends, crewmates and the press.
Roble, 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, when she was a member of the 2014 Etchells World Championship-winning team and won 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. She is ranked third in the world.
“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 goal is to win the Women’s Match Racing World Championship in July with crewmembers Janel Zarkowsky and Maggie Shea. “You need your team to be successful; this award is for all of them.”
Roble shared a funny story about her first connection to sailing, dating from 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, who is 46 and also won the Rolex award in 2008, flew straight from the finish line at the Caribbean 600, where his boat,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 thing at the right time.
“In some ways, it’s not how you get knocked down, but how you get back up that’s going to be the measure,” he said. “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.”
The two sailors topped a short list of 10 men and seven women who were nominated by members of US Sailing and evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists. Jobson, who has emceed the luncheon for 15 years, noted that the list of nominees grows in stature every year, reinforcing how well American sailors are doing nationally and internationally.