There was an abundance of Southern hospitality and tradition in evidence as the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame (NSHOF) inducted nine of the sport’s significant contributors during ceremonies at Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans on October 14.
From the opening notes played by the US Marine Corps band to the closing gun fired by master of ceremonies and 2011 inductee Gary Jobson, the four living and five posthumously inducted sailors – including a Medal of Freedom recipient, the father of the yellow first-down line for televised football, and several Olympians – were celebrated for having persevered to succeed in the sport. The thread of overcoming adversity made the setting at Southern Yacht Club even more apropos: after fire ravaged the club in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, SYC was seriously impacted when Hurricane Isaac struck this past August – seven years to the day after Katrina had led to SYC being rebuilt. In the midst of cleaning up from this latest challenge, SYC didn’t miss a step in planning and executing the second-ever NSHOF induction.
“The reason why we really are all here is the overall long term commitment and enjoyment to the sport of sailing,” said Bruce Kirby (Rowayton, Conn.), one of the four living sailing icons who were celebrated for their impact on the sport. “No other sport can engage so many interests and such a broad range of intellects….Our sport is the purest and most challenging, the least harmful and the most restful pastime there is. Keep on sailing as long as you can, it’s real good for you.“
Kirby’s first career was a newspaper man in Ottawa and Montreal, and he later became editor of One Design Yachtsman, the predecessor to Sailing World magazine. However, the Canadian native (Ottawa, Ontario) is internationally best known as the designer of the Laser which is sailed in Olympic competition. Over 250,000 of the one-design single-person boats have been built since the early ‘70s. His designs also include the America’s Cup 12-Metres Canada I and Canada II, as well as the Ideal 18, San Juan 24 and the Sonar, which is raced in the Paralympics. Kirby represented Canada at the Olympic Games three times: sailing a Finn in 1956 and 1964, and a Star in 1968. At the young age of 82 he can still be found racing a Sonar – his favorite of the 63 boats he has designed – out of the Noroton Yacht Club in Darien, Conn.
2012 National Sailing Hall of Fame Inductees (alphabetical):
Peter Barrett (Madison, Wis.)
Bob Bavier (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
Gregg Bemis (Boston, Mass.)
Stan Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.)
Bruce Kirby (Rowayton, Conn.)
John Kostecki (San Anselmo, Calif.)
Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.)
Rod Stephens (New York, N.Y.)
John Cox Stevens (New York, N.Y.)
For more on this year’s inductees visit nshof.org