Who will emerge to win in 2019?

Published on January 28th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When I saw the headline of how Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak was surprised he won the 2020 National Hockey League All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award, I wondered why.

“I would expect the winner should win MVP, you know?” said Pastrnak, whose team lost. “But if I was voted in by fans, I appreciate the love, you know?”

Oh, the decision was done online with fan voting. Not by neutral evaluators and not by any rules but rather by sports followers who are enthusiastically devoted to the game and their favorite player.

Is that really the best way to honor greatness? As a member of the selection committee for US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards, I have been wrestling with this issue.

Scuttlebutt has a long history with assisting in selecting the US winners, as our position of following, reporting, and archiving sailing news provides us with a unique view of what earns the recognition each year.

There is nothing numerical about the final determination; it is a subjective decision on which triumphs are the greatest, assessing each candidate’s contribution toward those successes, and then comparing the collection of achievements to grade which is greater.

I’m a fan of historical recognition. It allows us to stop and think and remember. It gives our sport depth and honors commitment. Winners must be worthy and the award deserves a respected process, so I was hugely disappointed when the 2019 plan was to include fan voting.

Now, I totally get how fan voting engages the public and heightens interest in the process, which are all good things. But I have seen enough popularity campaigns to know that not everybody casting a vote has dug through all the data to select the best candidate.

But rules are rules, and in 2019 the winners are to be decided by three equally weighted voting groups: media, past winners, and fans. So who will emerge from the shortlist of nominees?

Among the men’s finalist, I’m estimating that David and Peter Askew will win the media vote, Mike Martin and Adam Lowry will get the past winner vote, and Willem Van Waay will top the fan vote. He did say he’d throw a massive party for votes.

However, I’m less certain on how the voting groups will assess the women. Daniela Moroz dominates kiting, Berta Puig and Bella Casaretto are the best in the youth world, and Nicole Breault accrued diverse credentials that deserve recognition.

While I have zero knowledge on who is going to win, as I sit in attendance when the announcement is made February 6 at the Sailing Leadership Forum, my view will be toward 5O5 gods Mike Martin and Adam Lowry and kiting queen Daniela Moroz. Standing by.

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