Bill Pinkney: A lifetime of achievement

Published on October 21st, 2021

Bill Pinkney was among the 11 inductees for the U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame Class of 2021, honored with a lifetime achievement award for his significant impact on the sport

Among his accomplishments was to blaze a trail in 1990-91 as the first African American to circle the globe solo. Among his supporters in that effort was the Hokin family, founders of Bitter End Yacht Club in 1969.

As the Hokin’s near completion of their resort which suffered badly at the hands of Hurricane Irma in 2017, they came to the induction ceremony to celebrate their old friend. Here is a report by Bitter End Yacht Club Managing Owner Richard Hokin:

Wendy and I were at the morning ceremony in Newport where Capt. Bill Pinkney was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime achievement in and contribution to the sport, which extend far beyond his solo circumnavigation, and his command of the S/V Amistad replica.

I’m proud to claim that Bill and I share one thing, the experience of getting into big boat sailing and racing in Chicago as crew, although Bill was a watch captain, while I never progressed beyond grinder, clearly a sign of things to come.

The evening’s dinner was a real treat for us. We had the privilege of being seated at Bill’s table along with his wife, Migdalia, his son-in-law, granddaughter, and two journalists involved in documenting the achievements that brought him to the Hall of Fame.

The highlight of the whole day came after dinner when Bill delivered a thoughtful and eloquent keynote address. Bill was introduced by Tom Whidden, my shipmate during the Love Machine IOR yacht racing era.

Pretty early into the talk, Bill described how my dad, Myron, had supported him and urged him to hold his course through the trying process of funding and organizing his circumnavigation. His advice to Bill was that anything having to do with boats “takes as long as it takes”.

Bill also managed to weave in Bitter End, and even mention me, but rather than try to describe more, I sincerely suggest that you watch the video of his inspiring acceptance speech. We are looking forward to having Bill and Migdalia back at Bitter End soon.


(Left to right): Wendy Hokin, Richard Hokin, Bill Pinkney, Migdalia Pinkney

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