2018 Yachtspeople Of The Year Announced

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Erika Reineke, Fort Lauderdale, FL and Peter Duncan, Rye, NY, the 2018 Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year, proudly displaying their ROLEX timepieces.

Congratulations to Peter Duncan, American Yacht Club, Rye, NY, and Erika Reineke, Fort Lauderdale, FL, the 2018 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year winners. The Awards Ceremony took place at New York Yacht Club recently.

The Model Room of New York Yacht Club was packed with Rolex and U.S. Sailing representatives, plus family and friends of the winners. This year’s nominees proved once again that sailing is definitely a lifelong adventure. Duncan 58, and Reineke, a mere 24 years old, reminded all of us, once again, that age is just a state of mind, especially when applied to sailing and racing.

This award is for the previous year of sailing, so it is geared to award 2017 accomplishments.

Duncan won the Audi J/70 World Championship in September, held in Porto Cervo in Sardinia, Italy. He and his crew (Jud Smith, Victor Diaz de Leon and Willem van Waay) came in first in a 161-boat World Championship. And they won it by a 15-point margin. Relative Obscurity, Duncan’s boat, placed in the top three in each race, which included three wins.

Past Yachtswoman of the Year and Executive Director of Oakcliff Sailing is seen here with Dave Reed, Newport, RI and Gary Jobson, the very well known sailor, television commentator and author.

And that is not the only regatta that Duncan won—there were four other J/70 regattas in 2017: Italian National Championship (Alcatel Cup), New England Championship, Bacardi Cup and Sail Newport Regatta. The list goes on and on.

Duncan was an obvious choice for this prestigious award. In a totally understated comment, Duncan said, “I was just honored to be nominated for the award. When I found out I won, I was just stunned.” One can imagine that those who know Duncan were most likely not surprised at all considering his 2017 racing accomplishments.

In an emotional acceptance speech, Duncan reiterated how he will be “truly and forever honored” with his award.

YRALIS member Steve Benjamin, who won the award in 2015, came in second in the short list for this year’s award. Steve is a familiar face in our area for his support of frostbiting, especially the Frostbite Yacht Club’s New Year’s Regatta.

Erika Reineke with her grandmother, who came from FL to celebrate Erika’s special day

Reineke, Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club, was a bit shocked when she received the phone call letting her know she was the 2018 Yachtswoman of the Year. She commented, “I’m really proud. Just to even make it on to the shortlist this year, with so many other amazing sailors, was a big achievement for me.”

Reineke’s 2017 highlights include 2017 Quantum Women’s College Sailor of the Year, winning A-Division at ICSA Women’s College Nationals, placing 3rd in A-Division at ICSA Coed College Nationals. She also won silver at the Aarhus World Championship Test event in the Laser Radial and won gold at Enoshima Olympic Week 2017, the first major multi-class regatta held at the 2020 Olympic Games venue. Not bad for such a young competitor.

Reineke, who has risen in the sailing ranks to the top award in the United States, came from a non-sailing family. “My parents didn’t know much about sailing, but through the years they saw little prams and Optimists out on the bay and wanted me and my sister to try it. We went from absolutely hating it at first, to quickly making friends, and then really loving the sport.” It helped that her mother promised home-baked chocolate chip cookies if she gave sailing a try. So, many thanks to Reineke’s mom and to Tollhouse cookies, without whom we would never have the chance to know this amazing sailor.

Reineke is currently training for the 2020 Olympics and we wish her the best of luck.
Congratulations to both Duncan and Reineke for your amazing 2017 sailing accomplishments and for representing so very well all that is good about our sport.

In other news: On Sunday, March 11, 4 p.m., at North Shore Yacht Club: A showing of Women Offshore, about 10 highly experienced women sailors who share helpful ways to get more women on the water. It was produced by Gary Jobson, a former All-American collegiate sailor who won the America’s Cup in 1977 as tactician for Ted Turner. Dawn Riley, Oakcliff Sailing, and the first woman to manage an America’s Cup sailing team, will introduce the film.

Free admission. RSVP to Bill Palafox at 516-728-4389 or wpalafox@aol.com.

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Andrea Watson is a Port Washington-based maritime photographer and journalist. She writes Port Washington News' column On The Bay and is currently the Executive Secretary of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound (YRALIS).

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