Neither rain nor sleet nor snow, all of which had combined to cancel flights and delay trains in the Northeast, could deter Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) and Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) from getting to Manhattan today for their moment in the spotlight at US SAILING’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards ceremony.
The award recipients, chosen for their outstanding on-water sailing accomplishments in 2009, were joined by family, friends, sailing dignitaries and members of the press at the New York Yacht Club’s renowned Model Room for an intimate retrospective on their rise to the top of the sport. Gary Jobson, president of US SAILING and one of the sport’s most familiar media personalities, presented sailing highlight videos with childhood photos for each winner, which led to emotional acceptance speeches. The recipients received specially engraved stainless steel and platinum Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Masters, symbolic of their achievements in excellence. Also participating in the program were Rolex Watch U.S.A.’s President and CEO Allen Brill, US SAILING Executive Director Charlie Leighton and US SAILING Olympic Sailing Program Chair Dean Brenner.
Tunnicliffe, who also won the award in 2008, was cited for her win in Laser Radials at French Sailing Week, an ISAF Sailing World Cup event, among other notable events. Gulari, a first-time winner, was cited for winning the CST Composites International Moth World Championship. A shortlist of 10 male and five female sailors – determined from nominations submitted by members of US SAILING – was evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists who then selected the sailors for the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman distinction, the country’s highest sailing honor.
“I’m proud to say I’ve had another great year,” said Tunnicliffe, “but I am so humbled by the recognition from the sailing community, and this award is a fantastic way to top everything off.” With a nod to her crew at the luncheon — Molly Vandemoer, Debbie Capozzi, and Liz Bower — she added, “What I’ve done is not an individual effort.”
Gulari acknowledged support from his family as well as friends and fellow American sailors in the Moth class, who pushed each other to excel. “By the time we got to the worlds we really had raised the bar for the Americans and had the dominant edge as a nation,” said Gulari. “This award means so much to me; I don’t have words for it.”
Gulari heads immediately to Dubai to defend his title at the 2010 Puma Moth World Championships, while Tunnicliffe will next prepare for the Princess Sofia Trophy, an ISAF Sailing World Cup in March.
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