2011 Awards Dinner

LtoR: Deb Capozzi, Molly Vanemoer, Anna Tunnicliffe, Rob Crane, Charlie Leighton, Zach Railey, Paige Railey, Bob Willis, Amanda Clark, Bob Billingham

Portsmouth, R.I. (February 7, 2012) – At the 2011 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Awards Dinner, the U.S. Olympic Sailing Committee presented  the “Charlie Awards” to the 2011 USSTAG athletes who achieved excellence in the following categories: Breakthrough Performance, Most Improved Fitness, Best Teammate, Best Individual Performance, Best Team Performance, Commercial Award, and Outstanding Service to the Team. The awards were presented Jan. 28 in Miami, Florida, following US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR, where USSTAG won five medals in SKUD-18, Finn, Laser Radial, Women’s RS:X and Women’s Match Racing.

“The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics ‘Charlie Awards’ are named in honor of our dear friend Charlie Leighton, who is the driving force behind our Team’s Medalist Donor Program,” said Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.), the Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program. “We have a terrific team of athletes of which the OSC and staff are extremely proud. There were many great moments in 2011, with the highlight of naming our Olympic and Paralympic Teams.”

The following awards were presented:

Breakthrough Performance: Rob Crane
This award is presented to the athlete who, over the previous 12 months, has begun Olympic or Paralympic Class competition for the first time, or switched to a new event, and achieved notable performance on the water.

Rob Crane

Rob Crane stunned the international Laser fleet on the final day of the ISAF 2011 Sailing World Championships by winning the 9th race and finishing a close second in the 10th. His commanding final day’s performance earned him the top American position (14th) in the Laser (men’s singlehanded dinghy) and with it, the selection to the US Olympic Team.

“We put in so much effort trying to do this and I’m so proud that I accomplished my goal,” said Crane the day after Olympic Team selection. “Without the support of my family I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

The award was presented by USSTAG High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.). 

Commercial Award: Amanda Clark
This award is presented to the athlete who has made an outstanding effort in support of the commercial and sponsorship activities of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.


Amanda Clark

“Whenever we have a speaking engagement or appearance, Amanda is 100% reliable to knock the socks off of any corporate executive,” said Katie Smith, (Newport, R.I.), USSTAG’s commercial manager. “She completely represents the ideals of USSTAG, the Olympic values and the qualities that we all strive toward.”

Upon receiving the award, Clark said: “I am so proud to represent our sponsors, our team and the USA at the Olympic Games. It is a dream come true.”

The award was presented by Smith and US Sailing’s Associate Executive Director/ Director of Development Dan Cooney (Marion, Mass.).

Most Improved Fitness:
Zach Railey
This award is given to the athlete who, over the previous 12 months, has made the most significant improvement to their physical fitness.

Zach Railey

In early 2011, Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) committed to a residency at the US Olympic Committee’s Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. and devoted every day to a full-time training regimen with the Center’s experts. In one year, under the guidance of USSTAG’s physical trainer Chris Herrera of Miami’s Jaguar PT/Bow Down Training, he put on over 35 pounds of muscle, improved his metabolic efficiency, endurance and strength.

The award was presented by USSTAG Olympic Coach Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.).

Best Teammate: Bob Willis and Hugh Freund

Hugh Freund

This award is given to the athlete who best exemplifies what it means to be a great teammate. This athlete has demonstrated commitment, flexibility, collaboration and generosity of spirit.

Bob Willis

“As many people know, the coaches vote for the winners in all categories,” said US Sailing Executive Director Jack Gierhart (Marion, Mass.), who presented the award. “In this category it was apparent that two people went above and beyond as good teammates… from driving their team’s boat around Europe to always being the first with a warm smile and a friendly word of encouragement.”

Best Team Performance: Team Maclaren – Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi
This award is given to the team who, over the previous 12 months, has produced the best overall performance on the water.

“This team exemplifies what it means to be a team,” said Charlie Leighton, US Sailing’s former executive director and for whom the awards are named. “They always start a sentence with ‘we’ and not ‘I’ and are respectful of each other. They support each other 100% in the good times and the bad. This past year has a been a remarkable year of accomplishment, including winning the Worlds.”

Debbie, Molly and Anna

In 2011, Tunnicliffe’s Team Maclaren — Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) — collected an impressive string of results at World Cup events, in Women’s Match Racing.

The year started with a silver medal at US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR and was followed-up by a bronze at Princess Sofia Trophy and gold at Skandia Sail for Gold.  The team ended the year with gold medal in the overall World Cup standings, a World championship title and a #1 international ranking.

Best Individual Performance: Paige Railey
This award is given to the athlete who, over the previous 12 months, has produced the best overall performance on the water by an individual.

Paige Railey

“Paige finished third overall at the ISAF Sailing World Championship, won gold medal at US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR, and bronze at the London 2012 Test Event, in August,” said Luther Carpenter (LaPorte, Texas), US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Olympic Coach and Paige’s coach. “She also represented the USA at the 2011 Pan American Games where she won a bronze medal. No matter what she does, she attacks it with a plan and sets a very high standard for herself.”

Railey ended the year with an overall bronze medal in the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.

Charles M. Leighton Award for Outstanding Service: Bob Billingham

This award is presented to the individual who has made a significant difference in the lives of the members of the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program.

“There are a number of things I can say about my friend Bob Billingham,” said Dean Brenner, OSC Chairman and presenter of the award. “He has been an invaluable member of the OSC and instrumental in the concept of our Team Shed in Weymouth. Without his guidance and leadership our Team may not have such a comfortable place to call our home away from home. It is, without a doubt, one of the keys to our Team feeling settled when we’re in England.”

USSTAG Annual Awards – Images by US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics
The Annual Awards were hosted at the Coral Reef Yacht Club.

About the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics
The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The members of the Olympic and Paralympic Teams are members of the 2012 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. US Sailing supports these elite athletes with funding, coaching and training. The title sponsor of the team is AlphaGraphics; other sponsors include Rolex Watch USA, Atlantis WeatherGear, Sperry Top-Sider, LaserPerformance, Harken Team McLube, Bow Down Training, New England Ropes, Group Experiential Learning and Trinity Yachts.


Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information about US Sailing, please visit: www.ussailing.org. For more information about the US Olympic Sailing Program and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, please visit: http://sailingteams.ussailing.org.




Contact: Dana Paxton, danapaxton@ussailing.org, 401-369-0490

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