Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2015 Training and Community sailing award winners announced in New Orleans at NSPS on Saturday, January 24!

Virginia Long Sail Training Service & Support Award
Richard Jepsen (Berkley, CA)

Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction
Oakcliff Sailing Center (Oyster Bay, NY)

Marty A. Luray
John O’Flaherty (Providence, RI)

Ten Years of Hallmark Performance
Westwind Sailing (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Outstanding Organizational Leader
John Lackey (Tampa, FL)

Outstanding Community Sailing Director
Alicia Martorella (Oyster Bay, NY)

Outstanding Community Sailing Program
Traverse Area Community Sailing (Traverse City, MI)

Creative Innovations in Programming
Young Mariners Foundation (Stamford, CT)

Excellence in Instruction
Hallie Payne (Mystic, CT)

Outstanding Outreach & Inclusion
Nantucket Community Sailing (Nantucket, MA)




Sail Training Service and Support Award in Honor of Virginia Long: Richard Jepsen (Alameda, CA)

OCSC-SAILING-Richard-Jepsen-09His numbers include serving as Commercial Committee Chair for four years, on the Board of Directors for six years and serving as the Chair of the Training Committee for 18 years. The list of accomplishments is lengthy and legendary. But the numbers do not tell the fullness of Rich’s contribution to the sailing community both inside the organization and beyond. Below are comments from several of the many people who contributed to honoring him for all he has contributed.

“Rich has dedicated an unselfish drive to promote education and safety to sailors of all skill levels over many decades. It would be hard to adequately describe the size of his contribution to and impact on our sailors and racers nationwide. His contribution surely ranks among the most valuable in creating opportunities to enhance the safety and enjoyment of sailing.”

“Rich has moved US Sailing’s approach to training to a more encompassing role. He embodies the model of professional and volunteer collaboration both in his career at OCSC and in his leadership of the Training Committee. He has brought his love of sailing to making the sport accessible not just to learn to sail, but to a life long activity that can be enjoyed in different ways at different times of life. He knows sailing from the 30,000 foot view to the most granular detail.”

“As the Training Committee chair, Rich has lead a group of people who at times have differing opinions to forming a consensus on many issues.  He has been fair and forthright, summing up the discussion and moving the group forward.  At Annual General Meetings he has rallied for training and pushed board members to give the well-deserved support to training.   Outside of meetings Rich has continued to listen to concerns from all who seek him out.  He has a great balance of integrity and playfulness.  He is a fun guy to be around whether discussing sailing topics or shooting a game of pool.”

“In his mentoring, guidance and support of the US Sailing staff the Training Department staff can always count on Rich to give an unbiased approach to an issue helping us to see all sides.  His door is always open and for that I am thankful and grateful for Rich Jepsen.”

“Rich is one of the most intellectually generous people I have ever had the privilege of spending time with. He possesses a startling amount of knowledge, not just about sailing but about teaching, business management, staff management, long term planning, life in general, you name it. Coupled with a fantastic sense of humor, he is one of the most enjoyable conversationalists I know and I am always excited to dig in to any topic with him. Rich’s dedication to the sport is invaluable and his contributions have helped shaped sailing instruction as we know it today.”

“It would take me sixty days to count the ways in which Rich has impacted the sport of sailing, sail training and those if us fortunate enough to work and volunteer alongside of him.  Mentor, visionary, advocate, partner, friend.  Thank you Rich, for everything past, present and future.”

“When I think of Rich and his contribution to sailing what comes to mind is tireless, insightful, detail-oriented, welcoming, fully-engaged, and an oracle of sail-training knowledge.”


Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction: Oakcliff Sailing Center (Oyster Bay, NY)

The founders of this program started with a love of sailing, but then stepped back to ponder the question what is missing in teaching and coaching competitive sailors. They deplored the thin ranks of Americans winning international competition from the Olympics to the America’s Cup.

Their answer has been to build a comprehensive approach to develop world-class sailors with solid experience in performance monohulls and multihulls, in boat preparation and maintenance, and in program management which includes business ethics and project funding.

Their program’s mission was a novel untested idea, Today it is clear that deteoakcliffrmined funders and professional staff have created an unparalleled approach for training and coaching performance sailors to the highest levels of competition — both for around the buoys and around the world — using their fleet of 82 boats that include 24 Olympic skiffs and cats.

They have programs for sailors 15 years old and above, who get to match race and fleet race one-designs, make offshore passages, and master high performance dinghies. All training stresses safety and personal improvement.

Positive results are piling up. Their sailors logged almost 8,500 “sailor-days” (number of sailors times days on the water) in 2014.
•    Graduates Charlie Enright and Mark Towill are racing Alvamedica in the Volvo Ocean Race.
•    A team just returned from racing a new Class 40 and placing second in the RORC Transatlantic Race.
•    Teams will be seen at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami next week.

Importantly, the organization has attracted excellent talent from the U.S. and around the world to grow their programs and expand their facilities.

Its founders, Board of Trustees, and the professional staff led by Dawn Riley have thought, in planning and execution, ”outside the box” and built a new model for excellence in sail training.


Marty A. Luray: John O’Flaherty (Providence, RI)

During OFlaherty_photohis tenure as the Executive Director of the Community Boating Center (CBC) in Providence, John O’Flaherty has managed to build one of the most diverse community sailing programs in the country. He’s created programs that allow children from various socio-economic backgrounds to go sailing for little to no cost. Last year alone over 1,700 children were involved with CBC’s outreach programs, and many of those were recruited through liaisons with structured organizations in the Greater Providence area. Additionally, by developing a vibrant adult program CBC has been able to provide affordable access to the city of Providence and the surrounding communities.

John’s vision for Community Boating has helped the organization experience unprecedented growth. A strategic thinker, he always identifies the right move three steps before it’s required. He had the forethought to approach US Sailing about developing a STEM program and has been  intimately involved with the development of US Sailing’s Reach Program. In any room where STEM is being discussed, there’s a good chance that he’s at the center of the group. Additionally, John is consistently gracious with his time. He’s always willing to answer questions from originations that are looking to dive into STEM or have questions about connecting with like-minded organizations. His demeanor makes him eminently approachable and his expertise makes him an unquestioned leader in his field.

John’s role at CBC suits him perfectly. Prior to joining CBC in 1994, John held various marketing roles as V.P. of Corporate Development for an advertising and graphic design firm, Advertising and Communication Manager for a medical equipment manufacturer, and Marketing Communications Manager for Schaefer Marine. His experience gives him a unique perspective when it comes to promoting CBC to potential donors or sponsors. In short, he speaks their language and that ability to communicate successfully has translated into marked growth for CBC.

Ten Years of Hallmark Performance: Westwind Sailing (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Westwind Sailing is celebrating their 28th year of teaching sailing and safe boating education at the Orange County Sailing and Events Center (OCSEC). The OCSEC was developed with California Coastal Commission Division of Boating and Waterways and the Sate Tideland Grant funds specifically for the purpose of providing low cost public access of educational and recreational boating. Since inception Westwind has been fulfilling its mission to provide the general public community sailing and boating safety education, which inspires responsibility for the aquatic environment; to promote overall health and wellness through sailing and boating instruction; and to create an atmosphere that is safe, fun, and encourages personal growth.

In celebrating 27 years of offering services, Westwind has made it through the ups and down of the economy determined to do what was necessary to keep doors open for the community. For example, in 1984 the Orange County bankruptcy led to significant changes in the county’s
programs. In order to keep Westwind’s programs running, Westwind took on all the costs associated with creating and printing the annual brochures, which many programs in the Dana Point Harbor are advertised in, as well as staff going six months with no pay. Through being creative and constantly seeking new avenues of providing services to the community, Westwind has been able to show steady growth.

In 2008, Westwind partnered with the Kinesiology department of Saddleback College and launched the adaptive boating program . This program is designed to provide on-the-water therapy and to teach safe boating and sailing to individuals with special needs. Accessible sailing, which is a section within our adaptive program, is dedicated solely to train our sailors with physical limitations. This population is often under served, and being able to provide these programs has been a blessing to everyone involved.

One example of a program that has proven success is with the Wounded Warriors. This program is designed to give back to our service men and women who have overcome mental and physical challenges through offering aquatic sports (with assistance if needed), and a safe
educational aquatic environment.

In 2010, Westwind Sailing partnered with the Dana Point Aquatic Foundation (DFAP) as the service provider for programs in order to acquire funds allowing Westwind to implement a scholarship program serving underprivileged youth who may not otherwise have access to sailing programs. The US Sailing – REACH Program Grant and the California Division of Boating and Waterways – Aquatic Center Grant provided funding for the first ever Sail into Science course at the OCSEC this fall. This course is part of the nationwide Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative that US Sailing has launched. 15 students from our local nonprofit youth organizations: The Boys and Girls Clubs and Great Opportunities were served. The students have not only been able to share the theories they have learned in school, but they have also been able to apply their knowledge first-hand and sail, kayak, and paddle board. The DPAF aims to provide funding for more Sail into Science courses this coming spring and fall due to the high demand of programming of this kind in our community.

In 2013-2014, with plans to continue, Westwind reached out to neighboring clubs and youth organizations to build a partnership to create a fun evening of sailboat racing, called Soda Pop Racing. The races are for anyone from 10 to 40 plus years old. There is a family, friendly, and competitive environment that provides an opportunity for the participants to use their skills and enjoy an evening on the water. Another creative program that Westwind launched is the Stand Up Paddle (SUP) and kayak rentals. Offering individual and group lessons, along with hourly rentals allows for year round operation, and it serves a larger population of people that will be introduced to safe boating education.

Westwind has successfully served over 40,000 people over the last 27 years, and looks forward to reaching more people through innovative opportunities and partnerships with local community partners.

Outstanding Community Sailing Director: Alicia Martorella (Oyster Bay, NY)

Alicia_USSailingAlicia started working at The WaterFront Center in 2008. Her true potential and talent shone through immediately. From her first day, she was an invaluable member of the team. In 2010, she became the first year-round program director. Her focus on program development and diversification has helped to grow and engage more people in the sport through every level of sailing education, recreation, and competition. Being part of The WaterFront Center ignited her excitement about community sailing. What’s missing from our programs? What would encourage more people to sign up? What would optimize people’s experience? What new demographic can we attract? These are the questions that constantly run through Alicia’s mind. Each year the programs continue to evolve and grow based on feedback, registration, and evaluations. From junior summer programs to racing to captained cruises to thirty-two hours of basic keelboat practical training, Alicia has sculpted sailing courses that suit every level of interest. Each year The WFC programs serve more people. Alicia’s attention to detail and desire to spread her passion with others is a driving force behind that result.

It would be impossible to list all of the ways Alicia has grown The WFC’s programs. However, one of her more notable successes is how her leadership transformed the face of High School Sailing on Long Island. She started a team at The WFC with a handful of students. Fast-forward a few years and The WFC now has a fleet of nineteen 420s and over thirty high school sailors. Alicia serves as the NYISA-SE League Director—scheduling and arranging regattas for the high school teams on Long Island while trying to strengthen and build the presence of the region on a national scale.

As the programs at The WaterFront Center continue to grow, training for staff grows too. Alicia starts off every season with training for all of her employees—new and old—to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Sailing instructors are briefed on new programs and updates to old programs. All of the programs have a written curriculum to provide continuity for participants. After each day of the Junior Summer program, Alicia meets with her staff and they review the day’s successes, areas of growth, and the game plan for the following day. Alicia frequently checks in with adult keelboat instructors too. Her goal is to provide her staff with all the tools they need to flourish. Alicia not only teaches WFC staff, but presents and teaches courses to others in the region. She is a US Sailing Small Boat Coach, Instructor Trainer, Keelboat Instructor and Race Officer. She actively leads workshops in sail training development, program development and instructor training and especially enjoys mentoring developing instructors and racers.

The one thing that is stressed more than anything else (besides fun) in Alicia’s trainings is safety. It’s paramount. Alicia is an EMT and a lifeguard. She’s also the Safety Officer on the MASSA Board of Directors. The WaterFront Center staff members are CPR and First Aid certified. Her sailing instructors have concussion training. Emergency action plans are discussed. First aid buckets and VHF radios are carried at all times. Alicia stresses to her staff that safety is no accident. All injuries cannot be avoided, but their impact can be lessened when handled well.

Though all of the aforementioned items assist in painting the picture of why Alicia is an awesome program director, what truly makes her a superhero is her personality. Her dedication to her profession and growing community sailing is commendable. She provides an amazing example for her staff to follow. Her leadership ability is a major part of why The WaterFront Center’s programs are so successful. One can’t help but respect her. Her love for The WaterFront Center rubs off on everyone around her. Her staff members strive to make her proud and consistently rise to meet her expectations. “The WaterFront Center way” is a catchphrase heard often in our building—it describes the teamwork, camaraderie, inclusion of all, and respect that all of our programs are built on. Alicia encourages her staff to embrace The WaterFront Center way, so they can provide a complete life experience for students beyond rigging and sail trim.

It’s hard to express in words how big of an impact Alicia has had on The WaterFront Center and community sailing. She’s smart, talented, respectful, respected, well spoken, hard working, selfless, compassionate…the list of positive attributes can go on. Even on the busiest summer day, she is always willing to lend a hand. Whether it’s covering a beginner Opti program, teaching a marine science course, helping the front desk sort out the weekend schedule, assisting a high school sailor write his resume, or simply just listening to a coworker’s problems and giving great advice, Alicia saves the day time and time again. No cape or costume necessary, just the pure passion of providing as many people possible access to the sport of wonderful sport of sailing.

Outstanding Community Sailing Program: Traverse Area Community Sailing (Traverse City, MI)

Traverse Area Community Sailing was formed in 1994 by a small group of local sailing enthusiasts and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It has grown from a small handful of participants and volunteer instructors sailing borrowed boats to serving around 500 youth and adults each year with US Sailing certified instructors and a fleet of over 100 sail and power boats.

Starting as a Youth Learn to Sail Program, the all-volunteer Board of Directors has guided the growth of TACSTACS Burgee to include Adult Learn to Sail, Advanced Sailing, Adaptive Sailing, Open Sailing, High School Racing Team, and Keelboat programs. Currently, an agreement with Disability Network is being negotiated to increase the capacity of our Adaptive Program and an Adventure Sailing Program is being planned for next season which will include Windsurfing, Mulithulls, and more.

TACS primary location is on Boardman Lake, a small protected body of water near downtown Traverse City, which is the site of the Cornwell Family Sailing Center. Also at this site is an all-purpose building built by the City which allows TACS the use of an office, extra storage, and a staging area for their various programs. All this was made possible through a strong partnership with the City. TACS has presence on West Grand Traverse Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan, at the Discovery Center Great Lakes (DCGL), the Grand Traverse Yacht Club (GTYC), and also a new partnership with the Great Lakes Sailing Co., a local yacht charterer. The High School Racing Team is affiliated with the Midwest Interscholastic Sailing Assoc. and participates in regattas throughout the Midwest in the Spring and Fall each year. As part of this affiliation TACS has organized and held 3 or 4 regattas each year with up to 100 young sailors participating. The high point came this past summer when TACS co-hosted with GTYC a highly successful CHUBB USSailing Junior National Championship Regatta. 93 young sailors from around the country competed for the Sears, Bemis, and Smythe Trophies and were housed for the week by volunteers from the 2 organizations. The volunteer effort to make this event happen was both amazing and heartwarming.

Financially, TACS has proven to be a huge success. Through grants, fundraising campaigns, and funds generated from donated boats TACS was able to build their boathouse after what seemed like a never ending campaign with an ever increasing goal. Since the boathouse was completed 6 years ago, funds necessary to add new programs and to increase the fleet of small sailboats and safety boats have been raised through various fundraisers throughout the year. The network of TACS supporters has shown tremendous ongoing support. A partnership with the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation (GTRCF) formed during the Boathouse Fundraising Campaign resulted in TACS receiving a $100,000 Kellogg Foundation Access to Recreation Grant that was a large part in meeting the Boathouse goal and was also one of the precipitating factors in the formation of the Adaptive Sailing Program. An endowment fund was also established at the same time with the GTRCF that is now reached nearly $50,000. Income from this fund is used for TACS scholarships. In summary, TACS has shown steady progress and growth over 20 years and is now recognized as a tremendous asset to the community. They have lived up to their mission statement making sailing accessible to all in the area and is truly an outstanding community sailing program.

Excellence in Instruction: Hallie Payne, Mystic, CT

As the Camp Director and Supervisor of Overnight and Community Sailing  for Mystic Seaport , Hallie Hallie-PaynePayne has been involved with all aspects of the program’s growth.  During her ten years as an instructor and Director, Hallie has played a prominent role in the education of more than 6,000 students.  While her current position has significant administrative requirements, she still manages to stay extremely involved in the hands on aspect of sailing instruction at Mystic Seaport. She has done an outstanding job providing guidance to both new and veteran instructors alike. Additionally, she has consistently demonstrated strong leadership to those involved in Mystic’s  intensive overnight residential summer sailing camp and community sailing programs.   As a former member of the overnight program herself as a youth, she has been able to take her experiences and help provide the best opportunities for those in her care. Her passion and dedication, combined with her superior technical sailing skills and sense of humor, make her a wonderful teacher and mentor.

Outstanding Outreach & Inclusion: Nantucket Community Sailing

ncsThe Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion Award is given annually to a Program Director or Program that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing by finding and including people in their program that would normally have no access to sailing.

Nantucket Community Sailing (NCS), located in Nantucket, Massachusetts, was founded in 1994 by a group of local island residents as a non-profit educational organization. Their mission is to engage people of all ages in the joy of sailing, offering access to all Nantucket’s youth, and teaching every participant in their programs enduring life and leadership skills, with a deep respect for the marine environment.

In 2014, NCS served over 1,000 children in its youth sailing programs (30% Nantucket residents) and provided $80,000 in 200 scholarships for Nantucket resident-youth, who otherwise would not be able to afford sailing lessons. Additionally, more than 2,000 youth and adults utilized our rental site, whether as paying customers or through a free outreach program.

Additionally,  in an effort to further its mission, NCS once again provided $50,000 in free community outreach programming to more than 350 island residents by partnering with seven local organizations: The Nantucket High School, the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club, Nantucket S.T.A.R. (Sports and Therapeutic Accessible Recreation), Adam’s Camp Nantucket, Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket (PASCON), the Saltmarsh Senior Center, and Mentoring Youth Nantucket. They have seen from their continued work with these programs that providing an opportunity to spend time on the water is a fun, enjoyable activity that can also be extremely therapeutic for the guests and students. 

Creative Innovations in Programming: Young Mariners Foundation (Stamford, CT)

The Creative Innovations in Programming award recognizes those programs, or individuals, who have successfully found new, and different, methods for teaching sailing. This purpose of this award is to highlight those that think “outside the box” and through their ingenuity have further connected their organization to the community.

The Young Mariners Foundation of Stamford, young mariners foundationConnecticut is a not-for-profit STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) after school enrichment program and summer sailing camp for at-risk, under-served and English Language learners (EL) in the Stamford and Greenwich public schools. Their unique programs are designed to increase academic and life skills achievement through the universal principles of sailing. The goals and objectives of all their programs are based on the best practices of Out-of-School Time (OST) and STEM-based curriculum set forth in a report conducted by The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering entitled, “Evaluating the Impact of Supplementary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Educational Programs, 2006.”  They’ve partnered with seven Stamford public schools and since 2010, the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich to provide a once-a-week after school academic enrichment program for over 150 children who are under-served, at-risk for academic failure and EL middle school students.

This school year they partnered with the Stamford Public Schools Office of Community Engagement and the Stamford YMCA to pilot a two-day Young Mariners Middle School Scaling Initiative at Rippowam Middle School with several goals and initiatives, including creating age-appropriate after school programming for middle school students that encourages fun and play, and that meets curriculum needs while also encouraging curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning.

Outstanding Organizational Leader: John Lackey, Davis Island Youth Sailing Foundation (Tampa, FL)

For the past four years, John Lackey has provided leadership to Davis Island Youth SailingIMG_19610933142760 Foundation both as a Board member and a supportive parent. Each year, Lackey chairs the first High School SAISA (South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association) regatta of the sailing season and also the High School SAISA Girls Regatta in the spring, held at Davis Island Yacht Club. Lackey, rallies volunteers, using his trusted volunteer spreadsheet, making sure every aspect of the regatta is managed well. The SAISA Girls regatta had started off small in its early years, but has now with John’s help, has grown into an well run event with strong competitors in attendance. 

John’s leadership on the Board for DIYSF has launched a new Capital Campaign to replace out aging fleet of sailboats and power assists. In the past years, Lackey has single handedly managed the Foundation’s Summer Learn to Sail program, from hiring the staff, to registrations of over 200 campers, and the day to day oversight of the program. Without John’s guidance and leadership, the Foundation’s ability to offer affordable sailing classes to the children in our community would surely have fallen by the way side.

When John is not volunteering for DIYSF, you can often find him sailing or helping out on Race Committee for major regattas hosted by DIYC. Being the Board member that has lived a stone’s throw away from the Yacht Club, John has often been called upon when an extra hand is needed, and he happily servers both the Foundation or the Club. 

Learn about the past awards winners