SD’s Bill Hardesty Is Rolex Yachtsman of the Year

Byline: The Log Staff

SD's Bill Hardesty Is Rolex Yachtsman of the Year

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — San Diego resident and Etchells World Champion Bill Hardesty and International Sailing Federation World Champion Anna Tunnicliffe of Plantation, Fla. were named US Sailing’s 2011 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year.

A short list of eight male and seven female sailors — determined from nominations submitted by members of US Sailing — was evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists who selected these two sailors for the noteworthy distinction. The winners will be honored Feb. 22 during a luncheon at St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.

First nominated for the award in 2008 when he won the Etchells World Championship, Hardesty reclaimed that class’ top title in 2011 after a dominating performance in an 81-strong fleet.

He had several other class wins, including the Etchells Midwinters West Championship, and transitioned from skipper to tactician. He translated his skills into wins in a number of additional classes, which led the selection panel to commend the diversity of his achievements during the year.

Hardesty’s notable performances as tactician included winning the 47th Congressional Cup in Catalina 37s and the CMRC Grade 2 Invitational in Tom 28s, along with top finishes at the Rolex Big Boat Series in Express 37s (second) and the Farr 40 World Championships (fourth).

“This is a huge honor,” Hardesty said, after receiving word that he had been named Yachtsman of the Year. “The long list of past winners is very impressive and includes people who I have always considered to be the best in the world.

“A lot of credit goes to the teams I raced with this past year,” Hardesty added. “Sailing is truly a group effort, and winning this award would never have been possible without great teammates: the Etchells World Championship team of Steve Hunt, Mandi Markee and Craig Leweck; and Team GAC Pindar, skippered by Ian Williams.”

Hardesty graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1998, the same year he received College Sailor of the Year honors from the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association. A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Hardesty grew up sailing in San Diego and learned to sail with his father on Hobie beach cats, prior to joining the junior sailing program at Mission Bay Yacht Club and later San Diego Yacht Club.

After college graduation and a brief Laser campaign for the Olympics, Hardesty worked for a power plant in Los Angeles and then a solar tube company in San Diego. Now a professional sailor, he spends more than half the year living aboard a Wauquiez Hood 38, on which he is currently cruising Central America.

ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Sailing World Champion Anna Tunnicliffe is the first woman in the Rolex award’s history to earn it in four consecutive years.

A member of the selection panel noted her level of dedication to the sport, while another remarked that she is a tremendous ambassador for sailing. She joins the rare company of four-time winners JJ Fetter (1986, 1991, 1997, 2000) and Ted Turner (1970, 1973, 1977, 1979). Only five-time award winner Betsy Alison (1981, 1982, 1984, 1993, 1998) has eclipsed them.

“I’m honored to win the 2011 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award,” Tunnicliffe said. “It is a great acknowledgment of Team Maclaren’s success in 2011. Molly (Vandemoer), Debbie (Capozzi) and I worked incredibly hard to achieve our 2011 goals, and we are now focused on our 2012 goal: to win a gold medal in Weymouth.”

Tunnicliffe, the 2008 Laser Radial Olympic Gold Medalist, committed to a match racing campaign in the Elliott 6m two years ago with a goal of again representing the United States at the Olympic Games. During 2011, she skippered Team Maclaren to podium finishes in three ISAF Sailing World Cup events: US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR in Florida (silver); Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE in Spain (bronze); and Skandia Sail for Gold in Weymouth, England — venue of the 2012 Olympic Regatta (gold).

The year culminated with a win of the ISAF Sailing World Championship that also qualified the United States for a berth in the Elliott 6m event at the 2012 Olympic Games.

The 29-year-old Tunnicliffe, a native of England, grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, sailing from North Cape Yacht Club in Michigan. She attended Old Dominion University where she earned ICSA All-American honors three times and was named the 2005 Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year.

Established in 1961, 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 award has been presented to 40 men and 32 women.

Nominees for US Sailing’s 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award:

Melges 32 World Champion William Douglass (Southport, Conn.); IKA Kite Course Racing World Champion Johnny Heineken (Larkspur); Laser North American Champion Clay Johnson (Toms River, N.J.); Allstate Sugar Bowl J/22 World Champion Rob Johnston (Heath, Texas); Finn U.S. National Champion Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.); Star North American Champion George Szabo (San Diego); and Velux 5 Oceans Winner Brad Van Liew (Charleston, S.C.).

Nominees for US Sailing’s 2011 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award:

Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE Eliott 6m Champion Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.); Farr 30 World Champion Deneen Demourkas (Santa Barbara); 29erXX North American Champion Kristen Lane (Tiburon); Kieler Woche 470 Women Champion Erin Maxwell (Stonington, Conn.); Kieler Woche Laser Radial Champion Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.); and Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Champion Cory Sertl (Rochester, N.Y.).


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