2023 US Sailing Association Awards
Published on February 2nd, 2024
Significant contributors to the sport were the recipients of the 2023 US Sailing Association Awards.
• Harman Hawkins Trophy – awarded to Rob Overton (Alameda, CA)
• St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy – awarded to Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, CA)
• Kevin Burnham Memorial Award – awarded to Trevor Bornarth (Port Salerno, FL)
Training and Education
• Virginia Long Sail Training Service & Support Award – awarded to Jane Pimentel (Westport, CT)
• Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction – Seattle Yacht Club (Seattle, WA)
• The President’s Award – awarded to Henry Brauer and Sarah Lihan
Harman Hawkins Trophy – Rob Overton (Alameda, CA)
Each year, the Harman Hawkins Trophy is presented by the Race Administration Committee to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the sport in the field of Race Administration. This year’s winner is Rob Overton.
Overton has raced and cruised sailboats for over 65 years, including campaigning a 470 in the 1976 Olympic Trials, and has won a variety of regional, national, and North American championships in Lasers and J/24s. He and his wife have sailed over 30,000 miles in their 50’ sloop, including three Atlantic crossings.
In 1990, Dick Rose published an article soliciting suggestions to simplify the racing rules. Rob Overton responded with a 19-page, single-spaced document of suggested revisions. Not long after, Overton received a call from Bill Bentsen asking if he would come to Chicago for the next Racing Rules Committee meeting. Overton agreed and on arriving found – to his surprise – that he was a member of the committee. He has served on the rules committee for 34 years, and in that time, has overseen the publication of eight rulebooks and is the original author of more than a dozen rules now in The Racing Rules of Sailing.
Overton has also served on multiple World Sailing working parties to improve the mark room rule, as well as the World Sailing Team Race Rules working party, the Team Race Call Book working party, and the Rapid Response Call working party. He is a National Judge and an International Umpire and lives near San Francisco, where, as one friend wrote, he “always answers the phone and is never too busy to talk about the rules, do hearings, or go racing.”
St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy – Newport Harbor Yacht Club (Newport Beach, CA)
The St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy is awarded to a local sailing organization for exceptional race management at a specific event. The winner is chosen based on race management excellence, including evaluation by participating skippers.
St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy was presented to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club (NHYC) (Newport Beach, CA) for the 14th Baldwin Cup Team Race, an annual 4v4 competition among 12 teams. The race committee ran 126 races over three days despite light and variable winds and tricky cross currents caused by runoff from heavy rains. Close to 200 NHYC members supported the event, from pit crew to boat procurement, housing for competitors and umpires, sponsor fulfillment, filming, live streaming the event, and announcing from shore. NHYC worked with members and mooring owners to clear a course area close to the club to create a stadium-style racing experience.
Competitors were effusive in their praise of the Club’s efforts and hospitality. One wrote, “The Baldwin Cup is truly next level. They run tons of fair races efficiently, on a course that’s well set and adjusted for the very shifty conditions. Their club members donate over 24 of their personal boats, which are all then tuned and worked on to be as even as possible, and there are so many volunteers helping with any and all sailor needs.”
Another said, “The 2023 Baldwin Cup was the best team racing event I have ever been to. What makes it really special is the yacht club’s ability to create a stadium-style atmosphere with live commentating that is great for spectators, but also for the competitors. When you make a team racing move right off the main dock and the crowd goes wild… that’s pretty special.”
The trophy was accepted on behalf of the club by Principal Race Officer and Staff Commodore Scott Mason and NHYC Race Director Jess Gerry.
Kevin Burnham Memorial Award – Trevor Bornarth (Port Salerno, FL)
The Kevin Burnham Memorial Award is presented to a sailor who embodies the spirit of the late Olympic Silver and Gold medalist Kevin Burnham: passion, persistence, perseverance, sportsmanship on and off the water, and love of the sport and love of his or her competitors. This year’s winner is Trevor Bornarth.
Bornarth began sailing at an early age and was coached by his father. He stayed in his local area for regattas until high school. While in high school, Bornarth started to skipper club 420s with his sister, but he really wanted to sail an I-420 due to the complexity and challenge of the boat. As he was halfway through the Orange Bowl C420 event, he was in 15th place in an 82 boat fleet. His father made what he thought was a safe bet based on current scoring, offering to buy his son an I-420 if he finished the C420 Orange Bowl event in the top ten or won a race. Bornarth finished 7th overall and only missed winning the last race by half a boat length. This persistence earned this sailor his own I-420.
Bornarth switched from skippering to crewing, which opened up avenues to sail with well-funded programs. He went on to medal in the Youth Championships, win the I-420 nationals, and win a silver medal at the Youth Sailing World Championship.
Just last month, Bornarth narrowly lost the 470 Olympic Trials to a much more experienced team.
Like Kevin, Bornarth loves the challenges of sport and competition. He loves sailing, the atmosphere in the boat park, and the amazing friendships that sailing has given him. He always has a genuine smile on his face and makes people feel good about themselves.
One peer wrote the following about him: “After COVID, I showed up in Miami with a 470 and no clue what I was doing. Immediately upon arrival, Trevor, who had just started campaigning, came over to help me rig and taught me all of the 470’s systems. I knew right then and there that he was a truly great sportsman and ambassador to our sport. That winter, we would battle it out on the water during the day, but then spend late nights swapping stories, talking 470 settings and goals in sailing. Being around this person as a competitor, a friend, and teammate, just makes you fall in love with sailing all over again.”
Virginia Long Sail Training Service & Support Award – Jane Pimentel (Westport, CT)
The Sail Training Service and Support Award in honor of Virginia Long, commonly called “The Ginny,” honors an individual who unselfishly assists and enables a sailing program or sailing instruction in a supportive role. Recipients of this award are those whose outstanding efforts improve sailing education programs and instruction in the United States.
The winner of this year’s Ginny, Jane Pimentel, has seemingly made it her dual mission to create new sailors while simultaneously improving the level of instructor training in her region. Her sailing school, Longshore Sailing School, puts over 1,000 junior sailors and 250 adults on the water annually, with many coming by way of scholarship. Many adults also go on to become instructors at the school. Much of her success is due to the culture she’s created. As all good leaders do, Pimentel has established a staff culture of continuous improvement, collaboration, and empowerment, understanding that accountability and compassion go hand in hand.
Her nominator may have put it best when they wrote, “She has helped create a welcoming, supportive, and accessible community for those to not only have fun, but to learn. She has shown herself to be a shining example of what dedication to the sport of sailing/boating truly is.”
Pimentel’s regional impact has been equally impressive. In 2023 alone, Longshore Sailing School hosted seven US Sailing Level 1 Instructor courses, and she herself taught thirteen courses at a variety of venues. These numbers reflect the highest number of courses hosted, or taught, at any level for US Sailing last year.
Sailing programs across Long Island have benefited from being able to send their staff to her venue and sailing instructors across the country have benefited from having her share her experience and expertise. However, she will be the first to share that for all that she gives back, she equally benefits from the work she does. In her own words, “I have found that being an Instructor Trainer helps keep the ‘light’ alive when it comes to running sailing programs. It really gives a great look into what our next sailing educators are like and how we can best help them. I love being an Instructor Trainer and always learn something new from each course.”
Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction – Seattle Yacht Club (Seattle, WA)
The Captain Joe Prosser Award was created to recognize the life achievements of the Merchant Marine Academy’s first sailing master, Captain C.A. “Joe” Prosser. Winning organizations embody all characteristics of the award’s namesake, namely honor, integrity, and a selfless dedication to the sport.
The Seattle Yacht Club is the first two-time recipient of the award, which reflects their consistency and continued excellence in sail training. They boast one of the largest yacht club sailing programs in the Northwest, with over 600 junior sailing program participants, and over 70 participants in their adult sailing program. With programs for children as young as seven, they have created an effective pathway that starts sailors as kids and keeps them into adulthood.
Their team of 50-plus instructors supports that pathway, ensuring that students are set up to succeed, regardless of whether they are a new sailor or a veteran. Their Junior Race Team provides youths with the opportunity to reach for competitive success at all levels while developing athletic skills, leadership, sportsmanship, and a lifelong love for boating, and their program has given rise to numerous generations of successful Pacific Northwest sailors, including multiple Olympic champions. Erin Timms accepted the award on behalf of the Seattle Yacht Club.
President’s Award – Henry Brauer and Sarah Lihan
The President’s Award is given at the discretion of the Board President to those he/she believes have made exceptional contributions to the sport and US Sailing. This year’s two award winners, Henry Brauer and Sarah Lihan, were critical to US Sailing’s support of athletes and its successful recovery during challenging events in the Olympic Department over the last year.
“Henry Brauer has been one of the most important advisors to me in my role as President,” said Rich Jepsen, Board President of US Sailing. “He has been tireless in leading the Association through difficult times. He and Sarah spent 11 months leading, supporting, and overseeing the Olympic Department when it stood without a staff leader. His deep, extensive background and talent in business, leadership, non-profit governance, and legal have proven invaluable.”
Most recently, Brauer championed and participated in a professional, international recruiting model to find US Sailing’s new Olympic leader, Marcus Lynch, who began work on January 2.
Sarah Lihan came to the Board of Directors as a Sailor Athlete representative elected by the sailor athlete community. She also came at a time when she was just starting her professional career, having just finished graduate school. At the time of her accepting a leadership role within the Olympic Department, Lihan was working a full-time job and volunteering full time with the Board, athletes, and Olympic Staff to keep things even keeled and moving forward as the Paris Games approached. Part athlete advocate, part leadership/athlete liaison, part den mother to the younger athletes, Lihan was in constant tactical and strategic conversations with staff and board leadership and held town halls with US Sailing Team athletes.
Lihan championed the remaining Olympic Staff and advocated for them with board and staff leaders, leveraging her deep relationships with athletes and coaches to keep the trust high and heartache at bay. Importantly, she was passionate that their voices would be heard by leadership. Lihan handled a difficult role with grace and maturity and the athletes and coaches in a way that promoted and rebuilt trust between them and the Association. She had a vision of how the athletes must be treated and executed on that brilliantly: freeing them from burdens so they could focus on competing.
“Henry and Sarah were the best partners I could have asked for,” said Alan Ostfield, CEO of US Sailing. “During a time of challenge for all of us, they jumped right in, never complained, and were great teammates. We kept things going in this critical area because of them and are better off as an organization for the great work that they did.”
Source: US Sailing