Every early winter, as boats sit nestled in the cradles and snow drums down on their tarps, attention turns to US Sailing's coveted Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards, an award that focuses both on peak performances in a given year, as well as career-achievement recognition. This year, 26-year-old Anne Tunnicliffe and 40-year-old Terry Hutchinson were named as 2008's winners on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. Both sailors clutched their respective titles after four years spent on the shortlist of nominees.
The panel named Tunnicliffe as their unanimous top female choice after her banner year of global accomplishments that culminated with a gold medal in this past summer's Olympic Games in China. The globetrotting Laser Radial sailor won regattas that spanned from the Delta Lloyd Regatta in the Netherlands to the Kieler Woche in Germany, also snagging three second-place finishes at US Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR; the Snipe Women's World Championship in Spain, and the Semaine Olympique Francaise in France. Tunnicliffe finished 6th of 116 sailors at the Laser Radial World Championship in New Zealand and wrapped up her year with a bullet at Sail Melbourne, the first event of the ISAF World Cup.
The icing on her race cake was undoubtedly the Olympic gold medal that she secured after a nail-biting fight in the Laser Radial race this summer off the coastal city of Qingdao.
Terry Hutchinson earned his spot as the 2008 Yachtsman of the Year because of his expansive repertoire of victories in a variety of classes, specifically TP52's, Farr 40's, and Melges 24's. Hutchinson started his year by winning Acura Key West and Acura Miami Grand Prix as tactician aboard the Farr 40 Barking Mad. From Florida, Hutchinson traveled to Europe where he took the helm as skipper of the TP52 Quantum Racing, winning the Trophy of Sardinia, the Copa del Ray and the TP52 World Championship. He also sailed to victory aboard a Melges 24 (a class that he hadn't been involved in for some time) at the North American Championship, and aboard a Melges 32, where he achieved 3rd place at the Melges 32 Gold Cup.
Both Tunnicliffe and Hutchinson were Intercollegiate College Sailing Association (ICSA) All-American sailors during their years in college at Old Dominion University. Tunnicliffe was the 2005 Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year and Hutchinson was ICSA College Sailor of the Year twice.
The winners will receive a specially engraved Rolex timepiece to commemorate their victory during a February 27 luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
For more information, check out www.ussailing.org/awards/rolex.