US Sailing presented its annual national awards at the 2023 Sailing Leadership Forum in St. Pete Beach, FL on February 4. The Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association and Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound were well represented among the honorees.

Excellence in Instruction – Annie Longo (Groton, CT)

Annie Longo and presenter Rich Jepsen © Lexi Pline

This year’s recipient and currently ECSA’s Junior Chairperson, Annie Longo has been an ECSA instructor, race coach, and head instructor at junior sailing programs since 2014. She’s worked at Wadawanuck Club, Groton Long Point Yacht Club, Ram Island Yacht Club, and with the MudRatz. Longo has contributed much to ECSA, including an effort to reduce the environmental impact of their junior regattas, and the development of a weekly junior newsletter, which was cited as contributing to a 44% increase in 2022 ECSA youth participation. One student wrote in her nomination, “Annie has taught me many more things than just sailing. She’s taught me to always put my best foot forward, and to be kind to everyone, even if you don’t get along with that person.”


Creative Innovations in Programming – Mystic Seaport Museum Sailing Center (Mystic, CT) 

Liz Sistare and Jepsen © Lexi Pline

The extensive programs at Mystic Seaport Museum range from half-day summer camps to 10-day adventure sails aboard the schooner Brilliant. They connect sailing to everything from the history of trade to science, nature, design, art, boat building and other hands-on skills. They partner with their neighbors to provide hybrid experiences between sailing, water, and land activities to bring positive experiences to more young people. The award was presented to Liz Sistare, Supervisor of the Museum’s Sailing Center.


Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction – New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS) (Stonington, CT) 

Larry Ledgerwood (l), Jepsen, and Spike Lobdell © Lexi Pline

This award, given in honor of the lifetime achievements of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s first sailing master, is presented to an organization which has made an exemplary contribution toward improving the quality and safety in the training or instruction of sailors. This year’s recipient is NESS (accepted by Spike Lobdell and Larry Ledgerwood) celebrating its twentieth year of sailing instruction, leadership excellence, and work expanding the sport of sailing, with a particular emphasis supporting under-represented students. Students learn sailing fundamentals along with critical social and emotional skills via additional, accredited programming through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.


Virginia Long Sail Training Service & Support Award – Robert (Bob) Whittredge II (Larchmont, NY) 

Bob Whittredge © Lexi Pline

Since 2005, Bob Whittredge has served as the Executive Director of the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound (JSA), which coordinates sailing program activities for over 2,500 junior sailors at 43 Member Clubs. Whittredge has been a great resource to surrounding regions, including ECSA. Whittredge has worked tirelessly to organize meetings and clinics. He has been an effective organizer and collaborator of junior regattas on Long Island Sound and is constantly “on the lookout” for best practices around the country, bringing them back to JSA and neighboring regions.

To learn more about the awards, visit ■

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