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For the first time, Newport is hosting the National Sailing Hall of Fame Induction. Today, eight (five living and three posthumous) Inductees will be celebrated for their impact on the sport. The National Sailing Hall of Fame, headquartered in Annapolis, Md., has previously recognized 57 Inductees, including Newport locals Harry Anderson Jr., Betsy Alison and Bob Johnstone, along with noted America’s Cup sailors Ted Turner and Gary Jobson, all of whom are on hand for today’s event.
The eight people who will be inducted today: Bill Bentsen (Chicago, Ill./Lake Geneva, Wisc.), a two-time Olympic medalist – bronze in 1964 and gold in 1972 – who has created an indelible legacy for the sport through his contributions as a racing rules and race administration expert; 5.5 World Champion Ray Hunt (Duxbury, Mass.), the innately talented yacht designer of both sail and power vessels; boatbuilder Clark Mills (Clearwater, Fla.), best-known as the designer of the wildly popular Optimist dinghy used by children under age 16; windsurfing superstar Robby Naish (Haiku, Hawaii), who won his first world championship title at age 13 and went on to build a multi-million dollar watersports business; two-time Tornado Olympic Silver Medalist Randy Smyth (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.), whose expertise as a catamaran sailor led to, among other things, work on major motion pictures; and noted America’s Cup sailor Tom Whidden (Essex, Conn.), the industry giant who recently celebrated 30 years with global brand North Sails. Two additional Inductees are being recognized with the NSHOF Lifetime Achievement Award: avid sailor Bill Martin (Ann Arbor, Mich.), whose leadership roles in business and sailing – including the Presidency of the U.S. Olympic Committee – led to a noteworthy 10 years as Athletic Director at the University of Michigan, and Corny Shields (New Rochelle, N.Y.), winner of the inaugural Mallory Cup which earned him national recognition on the cover of Time magazine in 1953, who conceived the Shields one-design in 1964 and founded the I.O.D. class.
Following a two-month period this spring during which sailors from all corners of the country nominated their choice for induction, a selection committee – made up of representatives from the national governing body, the sailing media, the sailing industry, community sailing, a maritime museum, NSHOF founding yacht clubs and the 2011 class of inductees – reviewed the broad spectrum of nominations.
Inductees are American citizens, 45 years of age and up, who have made significant impact on the growth and development of the sport in the U.S. in the categories of Sailing, Technical/Design and Contributor (coach, administrator, sailing media). Nominations of non-citizens were also considered if they influenced the sport in the U.S., and posthumous nominations were also accepted. The undertaking to recognize Americans who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing is central to the mission of the NSHOF which was formed in 2005 and has completed phase one of its plan to establish a permanent facility on the historic waterfront of Annapolis, Maryland.
2017 National Sailing Hall of Fame Inductees (alphabetical):
Bill Bentsen (Chicago, Ill./Lake Geneva, Wisc.)
*Ray Hunt (Duxbury, Mass.)
Bill Martin (Ann Arbor, Mich.) – 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award
*Clark Mills (Clearwater, Fla.)
Robby Naish (Haiku, Hawaii)
*Corny Shields (New Rochelle, N.Y.) – 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award
Randy Smyth (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.)
Tom Whidden (Essex, Conn.)
About the NSHOF: The National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to: preserving the history of the sport and its impact on American culture; honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing; the teaching of math, science and American history; inspiring and encouraging sailing development; and providing an international landmark for sailing enthusiasts. The NSHOF is partnered with US SAILING and the U.S. Naval Academy, and is associated with the Herreshoff Marine Museum, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and yacht clubs throughout the country in its efforts to recognize role models of outstanding achievement. For more information on the NSHOF, please visit: www.nshof.org