PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — From a deep field of contenders, Brian Porter of Fontana, Wis. and Jody Starck of Amherst, N.Y. have been named US Sailing’s 2013 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year.
The two sailors topped a shortlist of nine men and six women who were nominated by members of US Sailing and then evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists to determine who was most worthy of America’s highest sailing distinction for the calendar year.
Porter, 55, a first-time nominee, skippered to win the Sperry-Top Sider Melges 24 World Championship, and Starck (nee Swanson), already a two-time winner of the Rolex honor, won the Lightning World Championship as crew and the Lightning Atlantic Coast Championship as skipper.
“I was so thrilled to be nominated, but to actually win it…it’s hard to describe how I feel,” said Porter about being chosen from among so many sailors with stellar performances this year.
Starck, 48, first won the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award in 1989, and in 2004 won a second time for becoming the first (and thus far, only) woman to skipper to victory at the Lightning North Americans, notorious for its large fleets and intense competition. In 2013, she won the Lightning World Championship (46 boats) in Castiglione del Lago, Italy, crewing, along with Ian Jones, for her husband David Starck (himself one of the 2013 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year nominees).
“I’m very thankful to my husband for encouraging me to sail my own boat again,” said Starck, “I had not been in the back of a boat for seven years.”
Reflecting on winning the Rolex award for her third time, Starck said, “I’m completely blown away by it; this time around, it’s more exciting than the other two times, because I am at a different stage in my life. Sailing isn’t my main focus, but I’m grateful to still be competitive.”
Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. since 1980, the annual presentation of US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards are considered the sport’s ultimate recognition of an individual’s outstanding on-the-water achievements for the calendar year. Over its history the coveted award has been presented to 40 men and 33 women.
Porter and Starck will be formally recognized Feb 25 during a luncheon at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco where they will be presented with specially engraved Rolex timepieces.
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), which was founded in 1897, is the national governing body for sailing — providing leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country.