The National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) today announced the six people who will make up its 2018 class of inductees: famed yachting cinematographer John Biddle (Philadelphia, Penn./Jamestown, R.I.); three-time Soling World Champion, Brazilian-American Olympian Vince Brun (San Diego, Calif.); and shipbuilder and naval architect William Webb (New York, N.Y.). Three additional Inductees are being recognized with the NSHOF Lifetime Achievement Award: the late Greek-American shipping magnate and veteran offshore sailor, George Coumantaros (New York, N.Y.); businessman, noted maritime memorabilia collector and 1992 America’s Cup winner, Bill Koch (Palm Beach, Fla./Osterville, Mass.); and 1975 Star World Champion Ding Schoonmaker (Naples, Fla./Watch Hill, R.I.), who was not only instrumental in the founding of the US Sailing Center in Miami but also was a tireless advocate for the sport through his involvement with the national governing body, as well as the International Sailing Federation, now known as World Sailing, of which he served two terms as Vice President.
The members of the class of 2018 join 65 previously-recognized individuals as the National Sailing Hall of Fame continues to fulfill its mission by drawing attention and recognition to Americans who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing.
Left to right, top to bottom:
John Biddle, Vince Brun, George Coumantaros, Bill Koch, Ding Schoonmaker and William Webb
“On-the-water and off, the notable achievements of this group of inductees are shining examples for sailing’s next generation,” said Gary Jobson, President of the NSHOF. “The NSHOF is proud to recognize the legacy of these contributors, by preserving and sharing their stories.”
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 US Sailing, the sailing media, the sailing industry, community sailing, a maritime museum, a previous inductee, and the NSHOF Board – reviewed a wide range of nominations.
Inductees are American citizens, 45 years of age or older, 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.
The Lifetime Achievement Award inducts an American citizen, 55 years of age or older, who has had consistent involvement in sailing for a majority of his or her life and had success in the sport while also becoming successful and achieving noteworthy stature in a non-sailing career.
The 2018 class will be formally celebrated on Sunday, November 11, 2018, with an Induction Ceremony hosted at Lauderdale Yacht Club, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Induction Weekend has become notable as a reunion of sailing’s Who’s Who with attendance already confirmed by these previous Inductees: Peter Harken, Gary Jobson, John Kostecki and Tom Whidden.
The invitation only event is sponsored by VCFA Group/Dayton Carr. Additional support is provided by Rolex Watch U.S.A., CBIZ Property & Casualty, Heineken Light, Mount Gay Rum and WX Wines. The NSHOF will dedicate the 2018 Induction to the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation which is committed to educating future sailors, primarily between the ages of eight and 18.
2018 National Sailing Hall of Fame Inductees (alphabetical):
- *John Biddle (Philadelphia, Penn./Jamestown, R.I.)
- Vince Brun (San Diego, Calif.)
- *George Coumantaros (New York, N.Y.) – 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
- Bill Koch (Palm Beach, Fla./Osterville, Mass.) – 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
- Ding Schoonmaker (Naples, Fla./Watch Hill, R.I.) – 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
- *William Webb (New York, N.Y.)
Details on the two Rhode Islanders who were today named as 2018 Inductees to the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Posthumous Inductee John Biddle (June 7, 1925 – October 1, 2008). Born into two prominent Main Line Philadelphia families (Biddle and Wharton), Biddle started experimenting with his father’s movie camera and, after mastering ocean sailing, used his siblings and cousins as film subjects on Narragansett Bay. After stints in World War II and the Korean War, Biddle spent several years working as an engineer while photographing weddings and babies on the side. A skiing film led him to think he could do the same for sailing, and, the following summer, the 1956 Newport Bermuda Race became the key part of his first film and subsequent lecture show. Using a 16mm film camera, Biddle shot from 130’ above the deck of square rigged ships and 15’ under water. He filmed in Greenland, and from Greece to New Zealand. He filmed the Newport Bermuda Race a remarkable 11 times, the only film-maker to have focused on the iconic race. He chronicled the America’s Cup 10 times during its 12 Metre heyday. His sailing proficiency allowed him to capture the action while staying clear of the racing crew. Biddle’s 140 sailing films were shown at his annual lectures between 1956 and 1996, and his film archive of the sport is considered one of the most comprehensive and important in existence.
Inductee Ding Schoonmaker (1933- ) is also a recipient of the NSHOF Lifetime Achievement Award. While he has sailed many classes – including X Dinghy, Thistle, Flying Dutchman, Soling, Finn, and Laser – it is the Star class with which Schoonmaker is most closely associated, as both champion and dedicated supporter. He started sailing as a youngster while summering in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and at age 16, he was asked by Miami sailor Jack Price to crew for him in a Star. Schoonmaker is quoted as saying “he immediately fell in love with the boat.”
In 1951, crewing for the legendary Bahamian sailor Durward Knowles, Schoonmaker won his first Bacardi Cup in Havana. Schoonmaker would go on to win the high-profile Star class event, as a skipper, an additional seven times (1953, 1964, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1976 and 1977). Schoonmaker’s involvement in Olympic sailing started in 1952 when a second-place finish in the Star U.S. Olympic Yachting Trials earned him the position of reserve helmsman at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki; he would repeat that role at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
The highlight of his sailing career came in 1975 in Chicago where he won the Star World Championship in a fleet of 73 boats. He is a 12-time Star Continental Champion and the 1971 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.
Not content to limit his participation in the sport to on-the-water achievements, Schoonmaker has been successful and influential on shore as well. One of his most significant contributions began in the early 1980s when he was a key player in the development of a Miami-based winter training site for Olympic sailing aspirants. The location, next door to the Coral Reef Yacht Club of which he is a long-time member, opened in 1985 with only a boat storage area, a ramp and two hoists; a year later an office trailer was added. In January of 2003, the US Olympic Sailing Center Miami – one of only 18 official US Olympic Training sites sanctioned by the US Olympic Committee – dedicated a permanent building. Over the years the facility has brought thousands of world class sailors to the waters of Biscayne Bay for competition and training.
For more on the Inductees, please visit: https://nshof.org/hall-of-