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Hutchinson, Tunnicliffe take Rolex honors

2009 March 1
Two sailors, both titans in the sport, were selected from a group of the best sailors in the United States over the past year to be named US Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Terry Hutchinson, the world champion of one of the world's most competitive fleets, and Laser Radial Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe received the honor.

Hutchinson served as tactician aboard Emirates Team New Zealand in the 32nd America's Cup before stepping behind the helm in the Transpac 52 class. There he continued to rack up victories aboard Quantum Racing, crowning his season with a win at the TP52 World Championship.

"This award is obviously an acknowledgement of a great year on the water," said Hutchinson. "But I would be incredibly remiss if I didn't acknowledge that it is a privilege to represent the bigger picture-the people I sail with and the teams on which I compete. I feel so strongly about the support they gave me; this wasn't just my achievement, it was the Barking Mad, Samba Pa Ti and Quantum Racing teams' too. Every morning I get up and go to work doing something that I love. Being recognized is just icing on the cake."

Hutchinson was chosen from a short list of nine male sailors for the Yachtsman of the Year award. Also on the list was Nick Scandone, who died January 2 of ALS, months after winning a gold medal at the Paralympic Games.

"How could you not be moved by Nick's story?" said Hutchinson. "When you compare what any of the nominees did this year to the struggle that Nick had in order to achieve the same kind of accomplishments. To win a gold medal while going through the battle he had . . . there are no words that describe Nick's effort and determination."

Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Hutchinson, a 40-year-old father of three, learned to sail at age 3 in a Dyer Dhow that was attached by a line to his parent's Concordia yawl. Going back and forth on the end of that line set him on a course to be a college star at Old Dominion University where he earned Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) All-American honors four times and was twice recognized as the College Sailor of the Year.

Tunnicliffe was the unanimous choice of the selection panel made up of sailing journalists. The lone American to win sailing gold at the Olympic Games in China, Tunnicliffe went into the Games ranked No. 1 in the Laser Radial.

"Winning the Olympic medal was a dream, and branching out to other boats and expanding myself as a sailor is one of my goals," she said. "I want to win another gold medal for the U.S.A., but I think it will take more than just Laser sailing."

Since the Olympics, Tunnicliffe, 26, has competed in a triathlon, won two match-racing events, and won the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Australia.