2012 National Sailor Hall of Fame Inductees
2012 National Sailing Hall of Fame Inductees:
Peter Barrett (Madison, Wis.)
Bob Bavier (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
Gregg Bemis (Boston, Mass.)
Stan Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.)
Bruce Kirby (Rowayton, Conn.)
John Kostecki (San Anselmo, Calif.)
Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.)
Rod Stephens (New York, N.Y.)
John Cox Stevens (New York, N.Y.)
There was an abundance of Southern hospitality and tradition on Sunday as the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame (NSHOF) inducted nine of the sport’s significant contributors into the National Sailing Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the second-oldest yacht club in the U.S.A, Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. From the opening notes played by the US Marine Corps band to the closing gun fired by master of ceremonies and 2011 inductee Gary Jobson, the four living and five posthumously inducted sailors – including a Medal of Freedom recipient, the father of the yellow first-down line for televised football, and several Olympians – were celebrated for having persevered to succeed in the sport. The thread of overcoming adversity made the setting at Southern Yacht Club even more apropos: after fire ravaged the club in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, SYC was seriously impacted when Hurricane Isaac struck this past August – seven years to the day after Katrina had led to SYC being rebuilt. In the midst of cleaning up from this latest challenge, SYC missed not a step in planning and executing the second-ever NSHOF induction.
“The reason why we really are all here is the overall long term commitment and enjoyment to the sport of sailing,” said Bruce Kirby (Rowayton, Conn.), one of the four living sailing icons who were celebrated for their impact on the sport. “No other sport can engage so many interests and such a broad range of intellects….Our sport is the purest and most challenging, the least harmful and the most restful pastime there is. Keep on sailing as long as you can, it’s real good for you. “
Kirby’s first career was a newspaper man in Ottawa and Montreal, and he later became editor of One Design Yachtsman, the predecessor to Sailing World magazine. However, the Canadian native (Ottawa, Ontario) is internationally best known as the designer of the Laser which is sailed in Olympic competition. Over 250,000 of the one-design single-person boats have been built since the early ‘70s. His designs also include the America’s Cup 12-Metres Canada I and Canada II, as well as the Ideal 18, San Juan 24 and the Sonar, which is raced in the Paralympics. Kirby represented Canada at the Olympic Games three times: sailing a Finn in 1956 and 1964, and a Star in 1968. At the young age of 82 he can still be found racing a Sonar – his favorite of the 63 boats he has designed – out of the Noroton Yacht Club in Darien, Conn.
Stan Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.), the 2006 Volvo Ocean Race winning navigator, aboard ABN Amro One, is recognized as one of the most outstanding offshore sailors known world-wide. In 2010 he was presented US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe after the trimaran Groupama 3, with Honey as navigator, set the benchmark of 48 days, seven hours and 45 minutes (surpassed two years later in 2012), while eclipsing a record – by more than two days and eight hours – that had stood for five years. It has been reported that Groupama 3 would not have broken the record without Honey correctly calling the weather window when they had to re-start after a break down in the South Atlantic forced them to retire to fix the boat. Later that year Honey secure another record – in the Newport Bermuda Race as navigator aboard Speedboat. After leading the 183-boat fleet for most of the 635 nautical-mile race, Speedboat was the first boat to cross the line after racing for 59 hours.
Honey’s accomplishments ashore are equally impressive. After graduating from Yale University with a degree in Engineering and Applied Science in 1978, and from Stanford University with a Masters in Science Electrical Engineering in 1983, Honey, in 1998, co-founded Sportvision Inc. which evolved into the leading developer of live-tracking enhancements for sports TV broadcasts. Honey led the development of the yellow first-down line for televised football; the NASCAR racecar tracking and highlighting system; the red and blue tails attached to streaking hockey pucks; and the baseball K-Zone system, which highlights the pitch location and strike zone in televised baseball. Honey currently works for the America's Cup Event Authority on TV technology and has created the on-screen graphics that clarify the complexities of the fleet and match racing by the catamarans competing in America’s Cup World Series. He holds eight patents in navigational system design and 21 patents for TV special effects.
“It’s an incredible honor to be included in this list,” said Honey. “These are individuals who have provided a huge inspiration for me through the time I’ve been sailing. To be included on that same list was a huge honor, and frankly, astonishing.” Honey went on to champion sailing as having a unique strength in its diversity, allowing anyone who wants to compete at an international and national level from when they are a kid. “It’s an incredible strength and a characteristic of our sport that we need to communicate effectively to families and individuals that are choosing a sport. .. I think the National Sailing Hall of Fame is one of the few awards that really gives our sport the ability to communicate the diversity that has so many different facets to the sport but also lets people compete at whatever level they are able to throughout their entire life.”
John Kostecki (Reno, Nev.) began sailing at age eight from the Richmond Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay, and like many sailors, he credited his parents for being “very instrumental in my career in getting me going with sailing.” Kostecki has won the triple crown of sailing: a ‘round the world race, the America’s Cup, and an Olympic medal, which is something no other sailor in the world has achieved. “It’s pretty amazing, I’m still blown away with what I’ve achieved in the sport,” said Kostecki who was quick to explain that his achievements were all on crewed boats. “I’m not out there single-handing and I’d like to thank all the team members I’ve had along the way who’ve helped me achieve these goals. “
Kostecki started accruing national sailing championships at age 17, and won his first world title in the Sunfish a year later. In 1988 he won both the world championship and an Olympic silver medal in the Soling class. In 2002 he made international headlines when he skippered the yacht illbruck to win the Volvo Ocean Race, after nine months of intense around-the-world racing that included surviving a bad night 50 miles off Cape Town, South Africa, with a leak that threatened to sink the boat. The 32,700-mile race was punctuated by drastic weather and some of the closest racing in the history of the event. In addition to the overall victory, illbruck won four of the nine race legs and on the seventh leg, broke the world monohull speed record with a 484 mile 24-hour run. As skipper, Kostecki was responsible for the selection of illbruck’s 14-person crew as well as management of the training program and onboard strategy during the race. At the time, the team’s achievement was likened to “scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen while everyone else was hiking the Appalachian Trail."
Kostecki served as tactician on the winning Farr 40 at the 2002 Sailing World NOOD Regatta in San Francisco and on the third-place finisher at both the 2002 Farr 40 European Championships and Rolex Farr 40 Worlds. Now an 11-time world champion in a range of one-design classes, Kostecki's leadership and sailing talents are supported by a tremendous depth of experience. A professional sailor and two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year (’88 and ’02), his tactical call aboard BMW Oracle’s 110-foot trimaran in the second match of the 2010 America’s Cup (his fifth as tactician) propelled the team to victory. Recently, the 48-year old Kostecki won the 2011-2012 America’s Cup World Series raced in 45-foot catamarans as BMW Oracle prepares for a defense of its title in 2013 on the waters of San Francisco Bay.
Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.), well known as the "Star of the Star class,” is a four-time Olympian who waged his first Olympic campaign in the Flying Dutchman class only to be sidelined when the US boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games. Switching to the Star class, his bid for a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics – with crew Hal Haenel – was undone in the final race when a control line failed and the mast fell in the incredible winds and waves off Pusan, Korea, leaving Reynolds and Haenel to settle for silver.
The first American Star sailors to ever repeat as Olympic representatives, the duo kept their focus for the 1992 Olympic Regatta in Barcelona and never finished worse than third in any race. Their consistency earned them the gold medal – and the luxury of sitting out the final race of the series.
After winning the 1995 Star World Championships in Spain, Reynolds and Haenel made their third trip to the Olympics in 1996, finishing out of the medals on the waters of Savannah, Georgia. Reynolds then went on to make U.S. Olympic Yachting history again – with his fourth consecutive trip to the Games in the same event – when he sailed in Sydney with Magnus Liljedahl. Having won Kiel Week, the Goldener Pfingstbusch Regatta and the 2000 Nautica Star World Championship (in a fleet of 112 boats), they entered the 2000 Olympics heavily favored to medal. Uncharacteristically, the pair strung together finishes of 14-3-10-5-6-10 when they called the shifts wrong early in the Olympic regatta before good decisions turned into finishes of 1-2-4-1. Assured of at least a bronze going into the 11th and final race of the series, the duo had to battle only two teams (Brazil’s defending gold medalists and Great Britain) in the bid for a better podium finish.
The drama was on when, after nearly an hour's delay for the noon start, a building 10-12 knot breeze phased in that was shifty and difficult to read. Sailing aggressively, Brazil jumped the start and lost their golden opportunity when they failed to turn back. Forced over early as well, Reynolds and Liljedahl immediately spun around the pin to exonerate themselves. They rounded the top mark in second place and held it for the remainder of the race, all the while not knowing that the Brazilians had been disqualified. They won the USA’s first sailing gold medal since 1992 – when Reynolds had last stood atop the podium with Haenel.
“It’s a huge honor to be included today with all these great sailors, all of whom I’ve looked up to, and in some cases sailed with and competed against,” said Reynolds. “It’s particularly special to be inducted this second year, following last year’s inaugural induction with the greatest sailors in the history of the US. I’ve been following and learning from Dennis and Lowell [2011 Inductees Dennis Conner and Lowell North] all my life at San Diego Yacht Club, and to be included with them is awesome.”
The celebration also recognized, posthumously, the contributions of five notable sailors.
Peter Barrett (1935-2000), a native of Madison, Wisconsin, was a three-time sailing Olympian well-known in international sailing circles for an act of sportsmanship at the 1960 Olympic Games in Naples, Italy, where he finished 11th in the Finn after dropping out of a race in which he believed he had fouled another competitor. He would return four years later to win a silver medal in the Finn at the 1964 Games in Tokyo before switching to the Star in which he crewed for San Diego’s Lowell North to win gold at the 1968 Games in Mexico. His competitive sailing career saw him win national and North American championship titles in a number of classes, and he was also a member of the crew on the winning boat in the 1971 Chicago-Mackinac Race. Professionally, Barrett served as a contributing editor to Yacht Racing/Cruising (now Sailing World) and he designed several popular sailboats including the Aquarius 21 and 23 built by Coastal Recreation, and the Mega 30 built by C&C Yachts. When Lowell North started his sailmaking business, he recruited Barrett as his first salesman. Barrett would go on to become president of North Sails, which today is one of the premier sail makers in the world. Barrett was a 1957 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where the sailing program annually awards a trophy in his name “for excellence in sportsmanship during competition.”
New Rochelle, New York’s Bob Bavier (1918-2001), sailing out of Larchmont Yacht Club, led his Williams College Sailing Team to Intercollegiate titles in 1939 and 1940 on his way to becoming one of the top sailors on the East Coast. At the helm of Constellation, he won the America’s Cup in 1964. He embraced the sport professionally during a career at Yachting that started with selling ads, then writing, before running the magazine as publisher. He authored seven books on yacht racing and took leadership roles in the national governing body of the sport as well as the international federation.
F. Gregg Bemis (1900-1995), a life-long resident of Massachusetts (Cohasset and Concord) is best-known for his work on the racing rules for the sport. His volunteer contributions include a long tenure as chairman of the national governing body’s Appeals Committee as well as a leadership role in judging at junior and intercollegiate regattas. He was honored by the international federation (then IYRU, now ISAF) who awarded him the Beppe Croce Trophy in 1989. The prestigious award is for an individual who has made a voluntary outstanding contribution to the sport of yachting. A member of the Harvard class of 1922, Bemis was a national sailing champion who raced competitively into his 80s.
John Cox Stevens (1785 – 1857) is best known as the founder and first commodore (1844) of the New York Yacht Club. He was an integral member of the America syndicate which won a trophy in 1851 that is today revered as the oldest sporting trophy in history – the America’s Cup.
Roderick "Rod" Stephens, Jr. (1909–1995), a native of New York City, saw his career launched in 1931 after collaborating with his brother Olin on the construction and fitting out of Dorade which won the transatlantic race that year. A top skipper and tactician, he was in demand as a crew and was a member of the team on Ranger which won the America’s Cup in 1937. During World War II he was instrumental in the development of the DUKW amphibious truck for the US Army for which he was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the White House. Considered an expert in the design of rigging and fittings, he was highly regarded as a problem solver. He was Associate Designer, and later President, of Sparkman & Stephens naval architecture and yacht design firm, a company founded in 1929 by his brother Olin Stephens and Drake Sparkman.
Background - Following a two-month period this spring during which sailors from all corners of the country nominated their choice for induction, a selection committee – made up of representatives from the national governing body, the sailing media, the sailing industry, community sailing, a maritime museum, NSHOF founding yacht clubs and the 2011 class of inductees – reviewed the broad spectrum of nominations.
Inductees are American citizens, 45 years of age and up, who have made significant impact on the growth and development of the sport in the U.S. in the categories of Sailing, Technical/Design and Contributor (coach, administrator, sailing media). Nominations of non-citizens were also considered if they influenced the sport in the U.S., and posthumous nominations were also accepted. The undertaking to recognize Americans who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing is central to the mission of the NSHOF which was formed in 2005 and has completed phase one of its plan to establish a permanent facility on the historic waterfront of Annapolis, Maryland.
For more information on the 2012 Inductees: http://2012halloffamers.nshof.org/
About the NSHOF: The National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to: preserving the history of the sport and its impact on American culture; honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing; the teaching of math, science and American history; inspiring and encouraging sailing development; and providing an international landmark for sailing enthusiasts. The NSHOF is partnered with US SAILING and the U.S. Naval Academy, and is associated with the Herreshoff Marine Museum, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and yacht clubs throughout the country in its efforts to recognize role models of outstanding achievement. For more information on the NSHOF, please visit: www.nshof.org
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Photo credit NSHOF/George Long