US Sailing Awards: Sailors Honored for Distinguished Service

2017 US Sailing Award winners. Photo credit to US Sailing.

AUSTIN, Texas (February 16, 2017) – A remarkable list of sailing’s most accomplished contributors received high honors during Wednesday night’s US Sailing Awards Dinner at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. US Sailing recognized these esteemed award winners for their extraordinary achievements in support of sailing in the United States. The awards dinner is a featured event at US Sailing’s 2017 National Conference.

Alphonsus (Rick) Doerr (Clifton, NJ) received the Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy for his outstanding contributions to sailors with disabilities and to the sport of disabled sailing. The award was presented at a special ceremony in St. Petersburg, Fla. on February 19.

Growing up in New Jersey, Doerr had a passion for lacrosse, water polo and football, with a casual interest in sailing. He was injured in a car accident in 1992 in Chicago, while completing his residency as a physician. It was during his stay at a rehab hospital that he heard about a disabled sailing program, the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program, where he rediscovered sailing.

Since that time, Doerr has made sailing his passion. He is the longest-tenured member of the US Sailing Team, a Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medalist and a 2016 and 2007 Para Sailing World Champion in the Sonar.

Doerr has become a key player in the international circle of Paralympic sailors. He helps promote and encourage participation in adaptive sailing regattas whenever, including newcomers and experienced racers. He takes-on less experienced sailors as crew, so he can help mentor them. Doerr has a willingness to share his expertise, as well as his adaptive equipment with others. He has a second Sonar that he loans out and he generously donates sails to adaptive sailing programs.

Hunt and Betsy Lawrence (New York, NY) received the prestigious Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for their outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing. The Lawrences were instrumental in their financial support for the fleet of Olympic-class boats that were used at the Olympic venue in Rio for over two years to help train American athletes. Having access to these boats provided an important edge for Team USA as they prepared for the 2016 Rio Games.

Hunt and Betsy Lawrence with past winners Mary Savage and Timmy Larr

Oakcliff (Oyster Bay, NY), a high performance training center, was founded by the Lawrences in 2010 and was named a US Sailing Team National Training Center in 2013. Oakcliff acquired multiple fleets of these Olympic-class boats that were used for training and racing in Oyster Bay and around the world. These boats were also used around the country for Olympic Development Program camps over the past two years, and helped many top youth athletes train and expand their skills.

Hunt and Betsy Lawrence were honored in a special ceremony at Oakcliff on Friday, February 10. Watch highlights from the presentation.

Camp Sea Gull for boys and Camp Seafarer for girls (Arapahoe, NC) received the President’s Award for their strong partnership with US Sailing and for their efforts to serve as an incredible example of how to introduce young newcomers to the sport of sailing.

Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer began in 1948 as a character building summer camp for youth. Through innovative land and sea activities, campers learn to build relationships, independence and confidence. The camps collaborate and utilize US Sailing’s full complement of training curriculum and certification opportunities. Their engagement with US Sailing and US Powerboating has allowed the camps to enhance their quality of programs while connecting to a larger boating community. By utilizing the US Sailing and US Powerboating curriculum, they offer campers a certification that is nationally recognized when they participate in junior sailing programs, race in college and even apply for jobs in the boating industry.

Over 6,000 youth attend the camps annually. Camp Seafarer is the largest training facility of women sailors in the country. Last year these camps issued 485 Safe Powerboat Handling certifications, which represents 36% of the certifications issued nationwide. Over 150 campers completed US Sailing’s Smallboat program and 15 campers passed US Sailing’s Basic Keelboat.

Mary Laurence McMillan, Program Director of Seafarer, said “By working closely with US Sailing, it helped connect us to other organizations who shared their knowledge and resources with us. This made a positive influence on our programming.”

Chris Ryan (Arnold, Md.) and Lisa Pline (Annapolis, Md.) received the National One-Design Leadership Award for their enthusiasm and leadership in creating the one-design fleet building program of the year.

Through their efforts with the Annapolis Snipe Fleet at Severn Sailing Association, Ryan and Pline significantly increased participation in one-design sailing for junior and adult sailors. Together, their service and leadership to promote and enable Snipe sailing has resulted in new sailors trying the sport and one-design sailors from other fleets trying Snipe sailing.

As one fleet member noted, “Both Chris and Lisa know that a key to a good regatta is great hospitality. They make sure the social events are top notch with amazing food and plenty of it! They also keep an amazing upbeat and positive attitude throughout the event.”

Tim Winger (Lancaster, Pa.) was awarded the Harman Hawkins Trophy for his contributions to race administration as a measurer and equipment inspector. Winger sustained a passion for the J/24 the first time he saw one, and he has been sailing and working on J/24s ever since. He has exerted a major influence on the class for over 30 years.

Winger has held numerous positions related to J/24 sailing, including event measurer at seven of the 20 J/24 World Championships he has attended, district governor for the J/24 USA Class Association, and member of the executive committee of the International J/24 Class Association, where he currently serves as chair of the technical committee. Perhaps his most significant achievement was the effort he led to rewrite the class rules and the modifications required to gain World Sailing’s approval – a project that ultimately took over three years.

“The people behind the scenes make it possible for us to control the equipment and develop the tools and procedures for enforcement of the rules,” said Winger. “Thank you to US Sailing for supporting the sport we all love.”

An International Measurer (IM) since 2008, Winger has measured hundreds of boats at venues all over the world. His wife, Marie, often travels with him and shares in the measurement work.

“Between us we’ve seen the bottoms of more J/24s than anyone in the word,” added Winger.

Alex Finsterbusch, an IM from Argentina, said, “One of his many abilities is to recognize what your strengths are as an inspector. He always had the right guy in the right position. He is always calm, never loses his cool and is polite to sailors, coaches and everybody involved in the regatta.”

The Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (Long Beach, Calif.) received the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy for hosting the 2016 Laser Midwinters West on March 18-20, 2016. This World Sailing 50-point event attracted 92 Laser and Laser Radial competitors from the United States, Canada and Bermuda. Fifty volunteers from ABYC managed 10 races over the three-day regatta.

The race committee team was highly experienced, including many volunteers who had worked on the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games as well as several world, continental and national championships. Both the Laser Standard and Laser Radial fleets were very competitive and they pushed the start line at every opportunity, requiring the line angle and length to be set with pinpoint accuracy.

Regatta Chair, Ed Spotskey, was recognized for organizing a well-run and fun event that was enjoyed by competitors and volunteers alike. Principal Race Officer, Mark Townsend, who represented Great Britain in 1981 at the Snipe World Championships when ABYC previously won the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy, received widespread praise for his excellent race management practices and for his competitor-friendly communication style and demeanor.

One competitor wrote in his evaluation, “On the water communication to competitors was awesome – so simple, yet so nice.” Another wrote, “Great tone set at skippers meeting. Fun regatta!”

Latham Bell, Junior Rear Commodore, said “We do this for our sailors and we do this for the sport.”

Media Contact: Jake Fish, Communications Manager, US Sailing,

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About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. 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, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team. For more information, please visit