SAN DIEGO, Calif. (February 6, 2020) – US Sailing is proud to announce the winners of the annual Community Sailing and National One-Design Award, who have been chosen for their contributions to the sport of sailing in the United States. To celebrate the accomplishments of the individuals and organizations responsible for advancing sailing within both their respective areas of focus and their communities, US Sailing recognized these contributors on Thursday, February 6 2020, at the 2020 Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego, Calif.

Community Sailing and National One-Design Award winners:

  • Alicia Martorella Poole (Bronx, N.Y.) received the Jim Kilroy Award for Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion.
  • Max Maller (San Diego, Calif.) received the Award for Excellence in Instruction.
  • Holly Church (Milwaukee, Wis.) was named Outstanding Organizational Leader.
  • Joe Cannon (Chicago, Ill.) was named Volunteer of the Year for his ongoing dedication as a volunteer at the Columbia Sailing School.
  • Sail Chicago (Chicago, Ill.) received the award for More than Ten Years of Hallmark Performance for their continued commitment to community sailing.
  • Alexe Taylor (New York, N.Y.) received the award for Outstanding Program Director.
  • Mission Bay Aquatic Center (San Diego, Calif.) received the award for Creative Innovations in Programming.
  • Lakewood Yacht Club (Seabrook, Texas) received the National One-Design Club Award recognizing administrative excellence, fleet growth, creative programming, regatta support, and member contributions.
  • Ronnie Ashmore (Anderson, S.C.) received the National One-Design Service Award for his contributions to the Buccaneer 18 class.
  • Fred Roy (Newport, R.I.) received the National One-Design Leadership Award for his service and contributions to the Herreshoff S Class.
  • Michael “Spike” Lobdell (Stonington, Conn.) was awarded the Martin A. Luray Award for his outstanding and unselfish contributions to further public access to sailing.
  • Meredith Brody (Fort Pierce, Fla.) received the Dick Allsopp CREW Award from US Sailing.

Jim Kilroy Outstanding Outreach & Inclusion Award – Alicia Martorella Poole

Alicia Martorella Poole (Bronx, N.Y.) has made a life-long commitment to breaking down barriers to sailing and water access. In a little over two years at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, NY, she has truly embodied the college’s strategic plan for championing diversity and inclusion. In this short time at SUNY Maritime College, Alicia has exponentially increased the number of scholarships, awarding more than $30,000 in 2019. She has extended sailing opportunities for local middle and high school students by growing the high school racing program and creating an after-school adventure program for middle school students capped by hosting a clinic and regatta for students from neighboring programs.

Poole has evolved Fleet Week at SUNY Maritime College into a STEM Day by providing hands-on lessons, including several US Sailing Reach activities for 350 New York City schoolchildren. She hosted Boogie Down to (Long Island) Sound, SUNY Maritime College’s first community waterfront open house. Approximately 1,000 residents showed up to this free event. Attendees enjoyed sailing, STEM activities, paddling, and powerboat rides. Based on follow-up surveys, 60% of participants said that this was their first time sailing or boating.

Excellence in Instruction – Max Maller  

Max Maller (San Diego, Calif.) plays a critical role in the success of the sailing department at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center and has been supporting its programs for over five years. During that time, he has continuously worked to expand his skill set as a sailor, instructor, and role model. He has earned both his US Sailing Small boat, Keelboat, and Reach Educator instructor certifications.

Among Maller’s many accomplishments are the implementation of the Navy ROTC, adaptive sailing, and Reach programs. He has grown substantially in the past few years and has become extremely effective at addressing a wide variety of unique goals and challenges while prioritizing risk management and learning. He accomplishes all of this while going to school full time.

Maller stands out among his peers because of his work ethic and commitment to quality instruction. He is recognized as a leader among his coworkers, and has earned their respect and inspired them to develop as instructors. Maller can adapt his approach to fit the needs of any group. He can deliver digestible content in a fun and effective way. When he runs into something challenging, he still quotes his small boat certification course, “Monitor and Adjust.”

Whether through direct instruction or through his influence on all instructors in our program, Maller has contributed to the successful learning outcomes of thousands of sailing students.

Outstanding Organizational Leader – Holly Church

Holly Church (Milwaukee, Wis.) has supported Milwaukee Community Sailing Center for over 20 years through a variety of roles. Her dedication, knowledge, empathy and enthusiasm have made MCSC’s sailing program outstanding. She has steadily contributed to all aspects of the operation and is influential in the education and training of thousands of young sailors. Church has successfully structured, staffed, taught, mentored, administered and supervised programs for adult and youth basic, intermediate, advanced and special sailing skills.

She has been successful in growing the organization to new levels of membership, prestige and connections to the community, while staying financially solvent.

Her outreach has brought regional and national events to Milwaukee for disabled sailors and women competitors. Through support and partnership with the Milwaukee Harbor Police and Fire Patrols, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), she has organized the successful “Safety on the Lake” events that benefit the entire community.

Church maintains her commercial captain licenses and professional training credentials, accepts command accountability, acts with confidence and humility, and has earned the respect and appreciation of her members and program participants. She is a beacon of light touching so many lives with a positive experience.

Volunteer of the Year – Joe Cannon

When Joe Cannon (Chicago, Ill.) learned about US Sailing’s Reach program and the Columbia Sailing School’s goal to get as many students from Chicago connected with free marine-based STEM education and an introduction to sailing on Lake Michigan, he immediately wanted to be part of it. Cannon has been instrumental in several areas at the Columbia Sailing School ever since.

He has added to the STEM curriculum, been involved in nearly every field trip, worked with students of all grade levels and has always found ways to connect with students to make their learning experiences exciting. Cannon also donates time for fleet maintenance and gives feedback and suggestions for grant writing.

The impact Cannon has had on Columbia Sailing School is immeasurable. His contributions and staff commitment have led to Columbia’s recognition as a US Sailing Reach Midwest Center of Excellence, a US Sailing accredited Community Sailing Center and the Primary Siebel Sailing Center for the Midwest. Since he started volunteering, his attitude has been – if it’s for the betterment of the kids, then I want to help. He puts the students before himself and is an amazing resource and mentor for both our staff and students alike.

More than Ten Years of Hallmark Performance – Sail Chicago 

Sail Chicago (Chicago, Ill.) has been around since the late 1950’s as an all-volunteer, non-profit community sailing organization, offering a sailing experience that is affordable, accessible and fun for all.

With close to 300 members, the organization introduces beginner sailors to the sport, while also initiating 40 to 50 new Basic Keelboat skippers to the Chicago sailing community each year. These 50 volunteer instructors passionately teach sailing on their own time, schedule programs, and conduct fleet maintenance.

In addition to Basic Keelboat classes, Sail Chicago offers cruising and women-only classes. Their youth programming includes three different outreach programs in the summer to introduce sailing to underserved populations in the city. As their website clearly states – Working together not only builds a thriving organization, but also lasting friendships.

Outstanding Program Director – Alexe Taylor 

Alexe Taylor (New York, N.Y.) has consistently excelled both as an educator and an advocate for the students in the numerous roles she’s held at Hudson River Community Sailing. Taylor teaches STEM-based after school programs, oversees the popular youth racing program, and serves as director of all youth sailing programs within the organization.

Her implementation of the US Sailing Reach curriculum brought exciting, hands-on modules to the boathouse, which she adapted over time into a rich, year-long curriculum that immerses 10th graders in Hudson River’s ecological environment.

Her tireless dedication to her programs motivates her to take on new projects. She oversees and trains students as they transition to paid interns and employees, delivers safe powerboating courses for launch drivers, leads resume workshops, and organizes programming trips. Her work ethic, enthusiasm, and devotion to her students color all aspects of her work, whether she’s teaching advanced sail controls and spinnaker use to youth racers, surveying the quality of the water in the river, or revising safety policies within the organization.

Taylor also finds time to expand the horizons of her own sailing experiences frostbiting in the winter. This past summer, she took three weeks to race in the TransPacific Yacht Race. To the 150 plus students who interact with her regularly and the adults that work with her, she is a constant source of support and a wealth of knowledge.

Creative Innovations in Programming – Mission Bay Aquatic Center

For over 45 years, Mission Bay Aquatic Center has provided access to the best water sports experiences in a safe, fun, and sustainable environment. MBAC serves as a primary gateway for youth and adults from all walks of life to become sailors and maintain an easy and affordable way to get on the water. MBAC is a multi-sport instructional facility and this gives the program a unique opportunity to expose students to multiple watersports disciplines. Most youth sailors at MBAC also participate in other sports including kayaking, stand-up paddling, marine science, towed watersports, and surfing, creating well-rounded water users.

As US Sailing’s Southern California Reach Center of Excellence, Mission Bay Aquatic Center is a leader in integrating STEM education into traditional watersports instruction. Since implementing US Sailing’s Reach Program and STEM education into youth curriculum in 2017, MBAC has impacted more than 10,800 students. MBAC has relied on the Reach modules to improve current programs and create new opportunities, such as the classroom-to-coast program, field trip program for schools, general public/non-sailor STEM exploration classes, and homeschool enrichment activities to create access to sailing and group learning activities for students participating in alternative education. MBAC also exposes non-sailors to US Sailing and Sailors for the Sea curriculum through the Marine Science program and by adding STEM components to non-sailing youth programs.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center’s creative approach to integrating STEM and dedicated leadership as the Southern California Reach Center of Excellence is paving the way for new programs and partnerships across the state and country.

National One-Design Club – Lakewood Yacht Club

Lakewood Yacht Club (Seabrook, Texas) has grown from a powerboating club to being world-renown for its sailing events. In 2019, the club hosted its annual J-Fest regatta with 65 boats, ranging in size from the J22 to the J122. Lakewood also hosted its 33rd Annual Harvest Moon Regatta, a long-distance offshore race from Galveston to Port Aransas, the largest regatta on the Gulf Coast with 133 boats in the 2019 fleet, which was preceded and enhanced by a Safety Day.

PHRF fleet racing remains strong along with pursuit races and other interesting formats. Under the guidance of Past Commodore Ash Walker, the club in 2019 purchased a new fleet of RS-21s for training and member racing. The inspiration behind this effort was to encourage one-design sailing from learn-to-sail programs through advanced racing clinics, to grow participation by youth, women, and younger members. The “pay to play” format where members can sail versatile, high quality boats that offer convenience and affordability to younger members (college and post-college age or those with young families) provides high value for the membership without the hassle and cost of boat ownership. Lakewood is building off the successful J105 North American Championship in 2017 to host the 2020 Opti Team Trials World Qualifier.

National One-Design Service Award – Ronnie Ashmore

Ronnie Ashmore (Anderson, S.C.) of the Buccaneer 18 class is the recipient of the One-Design Service Award. Ashmore tirelessly and selflessly supports his national class association. His nominator noted that “there is not enough room on the form to convey the contributions that Ronnie Ashmore has made to the Buccaneer 18 class over the years, especially during 2019. He is the most generous and helpful sailor imaginable, and a leader in our sport.”

Ashmore attends every Buccaneer National Championship, not only getting his own boat and team to the event, but comes to the assistance of others to support their participation. Ashmore is a recreational sailor and a member of the Western Carolina Sailing Club (WCSC). This past year, he was the Regatta Chairman for the local Hospice Regatta. Ashmore encouraged sailors from around the country to come to the event, organized for them to leave their boats at WCSC, and then loaded boats and trailers behind his van to haul them to the Nationals in Arizona over 1,800 miles away. After sailing in the Nationals, he then spent time helping sailors replace wheel bearings and other things so they could safely make it home.

National One-Design Leadership Award – Fred Roy

Fred Roy (Newport, R.I.) has logged countless hours of dedication and service over the years to the Herreshoff S Class. Last year was no different. His efforts went above and beyond his “normal” contributions in this Centennial year of the S Class.

Roy’s selfless commitment and devotion to the legacy of these classic yachts has contributed immeasurably to the endurance and viability of the Herreshoff S Class. Roy has devoted countless hours to the mission of the S Class during his term as commodore, and in his many years as captain of S boat, Surprise. His craftsmanship in wooden boat maintenance and restoration are equally matched by his skills as an expert helmsman and his Corinthian sportsmanship. His balanced judgment based on a lifetime of experience with the Herreshoff S Class has been of immeasurable value to his fellow sailors on countless occasions.

Throughout the S Class, and indeed everywhere in the world of classic yachting, Roy is held in the highest esteem. His service remains ongoing as he continues to contribute generously to the health and growth of the Herreshoff S Class.

The following tribute to Roy was entered into the Congressional Record on February 4, 2013 by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “Ninety-five years after the first S boat splashed into Bristol Harbor at the Herreshoff boatyard, the fleet is active and growing, with boats being restored to join the class. This success and growth in much thanks to fleet commodore Fred Roy. Fred brought buoyant enthusiasm and cheerfulness to the Narragansett Bay Herreshoff S Class Association, and all who love our Bay and its special sailing traditions, join in appreciation of Fred Roy. Fred has brought the spirit of the S boat, rail down and surging forward, to this part of our ongoing history and maritime culture.”

Martin A. Luray Award – Michael “Spike” Lobdell 

As the founder and current president of the New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS), Michael Lobdell (Stonington, Conn.), whom most of us know as “Spike,” has been responsible for guiding NESS’s vision, directing the execution of its strategy, organizing its governance, overseeing its staffing, managing the facility, directing community relations, and driving growth.

He established NESS in 2002 as a community sailing program with just 14 students. NESS is focused on the core value of inclusion, and aims to get students out on the water who might otherwise not have had the opportunity. Today, NESS teaches over 9,000 students annually, operating across New England and partnering with over 50 schools and organizations. Approximately half of NESS students receive financial aid to participate in the programming, and many have never been on the water before.

The number of young people (estimated to be 35,000 since the start of the program) whom Lobdell has empowered to get out on the water, to engage in STEM learning, and most importantly, to acquire the life skills that arise naturally from ocean adventure education, is inspirational.

It is with Lobdell’s direction that, in November of 2018, NESS became accredited as a school partnership program, to reflect the quality of the education students receive. NESS is the first school partnership program in the country to be accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). NEASC is the nation’s oldest accreditation agency and accredits many of New England’s schools and colleges, such as Harvard and Connecticut College.

Lobdell has shared his wealth of knowledge, his program resources, and his support with countless sailing centers and individuals across the country, and has grown community sailing immensely. These efforts, along with his direct work with NESS, reflect Lobdell’s vision, leadership, and, importantly, belief in water as a platform for learning.

Dick Allsopp CREW Award – Meredith Brody

This year’s CREW Award recipient is one of US Sailing’s hardest working employees. She has the unique ability to foster teamwork and collaboration effectively, while working remotely. Meredith Brody (Fort Pierce, Fla.) encounters people from across the world and treats everyone, from a young ODP (Olympic Development Program) athlete to a World Sailing executive, with equal importance and attention.

Brody dedicates her time to ensuring that the needs of our US Sailing Team athletes are met. Just as our athletes strive to achieve competitive excellence, Brody always strives for excellence in serving our athletes and team. She sees the direct connection between her responsibilities and the success of the team – anything less than excellence isn’t enough. She consistently pushes her fellow staff members and volunteers to reach their potential and strive for efficiencies and improvement, knowing that they are an extension of the team.

With her as the Olympic Director, US Sailing and the US Sailing Team are now more connected than ever. This is due to Brody and her endless energy and expertise, as well as her incredible work ethic.