Premiere individual honor in the USA

Published on January 11th, 2024

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The release by US Sailing of their annual shortlist for the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year award tends to fire up the internet, and the 2023 edition has not disappointed. Some are pleased, some not as pleased.

The issue at hand is how the shortlist has gotten really short – just three men and three women. It used to be longer which allowed more people to be recognized for their achievement. Getting included in the shortlist has always been a big deal, and while this shorter list makes the final vote easier, it does prompt questions about who didn’t make the cut.

The selection process begins with US Sailing’s nominating committee, approved by the Board of Directors, which selects three finalists for both the Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Award based on the merits of the nominees.

The shortlist got shorter to have the finalists at the awards ceremony, so it made sense to reduce the field to the most likely candidates. But it also puts a massive emphasis on the nominating committee, and can prompt questions as this group is not known, and neither is the basis for their decisions.

From there, the finalists are posted to a ballot and presented to voting groups of past award winners and sailing media journalists who will vote for the winners. I have been a member of the media committee for a long time, and requires knowing the players to value an achievement. My day job makes that easier, but as the types of racing expand, the decisions get harder.

While I am curious why some people didn’t make the cut, this award will always be a subjective assessment of achievement. My attention now turns to researching the finalists and selecting the best man and woman, in my opinion, to earn their engraved Rolex Yacht-Master timepieces. Wish me luck!

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