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Yachtsman, Yachtswoman of the year

Rolex honors for top sailors of 2005 go to a Paralympian sailor and a rapidly rising star

Rolex honors for top sailors of 2005 go to a Paralympian sailor and a rapidly rising star

Sally Barkow, of Nashotah, Wis.; and Nick Scandone, of Fountain Valley, Calif., were respectively named the 2005 Rolex Yachtswoman and Yachtsman of the Year. US Sailing announced the awards, which recognize outstanding on-the-water achievement during the year, on Jan. 11. The awards are set to be presented at a Feb. 24 luncheon at the New York Yacht Club.

Taking the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award, Barkow beat out sailor Paige Railey who won two Laser Radial World Championships. Barkow, who is 25, was recognized for her string of wins at a number of noteworthy international sailing events last year. One was the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship, where Barkow recovered from two penalties and rescued a crewmember who fell overboard to come from behind twice and post a 3-0 sweep of the final round. During US Sailing’s Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship, Barkow out-sailed the 42-boat J/22 fleet and trumped several Olympians, world champions and three previous winners of the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award, including Jody Swanson, to take first place.

“This is something I’ve been trying to achieve for three to four years,” Barkow says in the release. “It’s been a fantastic year for our team. Receiving this award pays tribute to the effort and determination we have all put in, and really makes the year complete.”

The fifth generation of sailors in her family, Barkow attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., where she twice earned Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-American honors and helped the school win the 2002 ICSA North American Women’s Championship. Since graduating, Barkow has garnered recognition for her proficiency in both keelboat match and fleet racing and for her bid for a berth in the Olympic Yngling class.

Taking the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award, Scandone beat out two world champions (Augie Diaz and Pete Melvin), as well as Mike Ingham, who took home three national championships. Scandone was recognized in part for his win of the 2.4 Metre World Championship held in Italy last September, in which he beat seven world champions, as well as three Paralympic medalists who were among 34 disabled competitors. Scoring two first-place finishes in the eight-race, 88-boat series, Scandone secured his win over his closest competitor, Sweden’s Stellan Berlin, by 10 points. Scandone, who is 39 and suffers from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also successfully defended his U.S. Independence Cup/North American Challenge Cup title and took top honors at the America’s Disabled/Open Regatta.

“I knew I had a good season, but I didn’t think it would get this type of recognition,” Scandone says in US Sailing’s release. “This is something I never dreamed would happen. I’ve always admired many of the people who have received this award in the past, and to have my name included is something I will always be proud of and cherish for the rest of my life.”

Scandone began sailing in the junior sailing program at the Balboa Yacht Club in Corona del Mar, Calif. He continued sailing while attending UC-Irvine and was a key member of the team that won the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s 1988 North American Dinghy and Team Racing Championships, which also earned him All-American honors that year. Since then, Scandone has continued sailing a number of classes including Snipe, Melges and the Lido 14, in which he is a two-time national champion.

US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards were established in 1961 and have been sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A since 1980. A panel of sailing journalists selected Scandone and Barkow from a list of 12 sailors, including nine men and three women.