Three Del Rey Yacht Club members received national and statewide honors at two separate Southland yachting installation and award ceremonies Friday and Saturday, January 6th and 7th.
The Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs presented US Sailing’s esteemed Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Jack Mayer Friday night at California Yacht Club (CYC).
CYC staff commodore and US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee member Dick Hampikian gave Mayer the ribboned gold medal for his and his crew’s immediate response and excellent seamanship in rescuing three sailors from chaotic seas when their boat sank last April in the first Wednesday night race of the Sunset Series.
Rescued skipper Jerome Sammarcelli said after the incident:
“It was a very difficult rescue due to the waves breaking from everywhere.
“Jack and his crew have shown great skills to take us all out of the water.”
Mayer, himself, doesn’t think he did “anything anyone wouldn’t have done,” and doesn’t see his actions as particularly heroic.
This was not the first rescue for Mayer and Y-Wait. In 2004, Mayer and his crew rescued a woman who went overboard during another Wednesday night race.
A few minutes later in the program, Mayer also received the ASMBYC Sportsman of the Year Award, for which he had been nominated by three yacht clubs.
Mayer said he hoped to be back again to receive an award by the association, but not one earned like this.
The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal was established to commemorate the famous ocean-racing sailor who plied the Atlantic — east, north and south.
According to US Sailing’s Web site:
“Hanson tested the first Electronic Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on a private yacht during a transatlantic race in the early 1970s through his connections in the U.S. military.
“The purpose of the Rescue Medal Program is to recognize significant accomplishment in seamanship, which has saved a life, and to collect case studies of rescues for analysis by the US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Committee for use in US Sailing’s extensive educational and training programs.”
The following night at South Coast Yachting Association’s festivities at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Newport Beach, outgoing commodore Tom Kennedy’s voice unexpectedly choked as he awarded his longtime friends Susan and Paul Artof the George and Kay Fisher Memorial Trophy.
The Fisher Trophy is given to the couple who together have rendered distinguished service to yachting.
Both Kennedy and the Artofs have sons, now in their 30s, who met in a club junior program. And both families have spent a good portion of that time furthering and promoting the traditions of boating as both an individual and a family sport.
In 1991, Paul was ASMBYC’s Yachtsman of the Year and in 1997 Susan was Sportsman of the Year. Their son, Jason, was a Junior Yachtsman of the Year in 1987.
Kennedy gently roasted the pair, juxtaposing their “he did, she did,” ultimately calling “the game of one-upmanship a draw.”
Over the past 30 years, the Artofs have served as heads or officers of multiple yachting organizations both simultaneously and sequentially.
At the moment, Paul is the junior staff commodore of the Pacific Coast Yachting Association and Susan is the current commodore of the Yacht Racing Union of Southern California.
The ASMBYC Yachtsman of the Year is Art Engel of CYC. Engel, often referred to as the “rules guru,” has achieved international notice for his work on the US Sailing Racing Rules Committee, which primarily proposes changes to the rules observed while racing.
These are found in the bible of racing, the US Sailing Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS).
Engel has been responsible for countless rules seminars and clinics in Marina del Rey and elsewhere in Southern California. Besides serving as a judge, he founded a Web site dedicated to teaching the racing rules.
In an unusual move, for the first time, ASMBYC conferred the David Poe Service Award posthumously — to CYC member Frank Gleberman, who died of cancer last year.
CYC commodore Bill Watkins was eloquent in speaking of how Gleberman had made CYC and the Marina del Rey yachting world his family, literally dedicating all his energies to improving and publicizing water- and boating-related issues.
Among his myriad organizational affiliations, he was president of the Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce.
ASMBYC spent a good part of its program recognizing achievements of its junior sailors, underpinning the idea and hope that instilling Corinthian sailing values and manners early endures throughout adulthood.
Eighteen-year-old Jake Sorosky of DRYC was named the Junior Yachtsman of the Year for exhibiting superior racing ability and sportsmanship.
He raced in a remarkable 34 regattas in one year and was the 2005 Ullman Series (Laser) Champion.
Sixteen-year-old Stephen Pitts, of DRYC, is the Junior Sportsman of the Year for the second time, having also received the honor in 2002. Stephen is an honors and advanced placement student at Santa Monica High School.
For many years during her life an ASMBYC junior chairman, Diane Armstrong put her hopes on youngsters from all clubs.
According to the deed of gift, the trophy in her honor is engraved each year with the names of top yacht club youngsters.
This year’s names are Allie Blecher, CYC; Sean Dougherty, DRYC; and Elliot Reuven, Westlake Yacht Cub.
Running these organizations takes dedication. The two installation dinners marked the changing of the helm for this year.
At ASMBYC, the new commodore is C. John Staff III of CYC and South Bay Yacht Racing Club. He took over from now junior staff commodore Wilma Rosenberg, WYC.
Vice commodore is Ed Preston, Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club. Rear commodore is Bill Webster, King Harbor Yacht Club.
Down in Newport Beach at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, outgoing commodore Tom Kennedy, SMWYC, turned the gavel over to Mary Bacon, only the third woman commodore in SCYA’s history.
Vice commodore is Jerry Lounsbury; rear commodore is Mark Hanson of KHYC. Hanson has received two of SCYA’s highest honors: the Warren Ewert Memorial Trophy in 1997 and the James Webster Perpetual Trophy in 2002.
The trophies are given for distinction (Ewert) and exceptional sportsmanship or contribution to yachting (Webster).
Topping the occasion for Thom Page, chairman of the Club of the Year Committee, was being able to present his own club, SMWYC, with the award.
Back at the ASMBYC event, many more awards and recognition trophies were presented, 17 in all — extending the evening so much that the idea of escorting enthusiastic presenters (all with serious points to make) off stage Oscar style after a two minute bell became compelling.
Of all the racing awards, one, for sentimental reasons, deserves mention — the ASMBYC High Point Championship.
Mike George took home the overall trophy. It was special because his father and mother, Leo and Rita George were there — and his father had won the trophy in 1966 and 1967.
As Mike’s wife, Denise George, said, “The challenge is on.”
Read about past Hanson Medal Rescues on the Web at www.ussailing.org