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Rookie of the Year



The next award is for Rookie-of-the-Year. This award was given out for the first time in 2005 to Chris Zibailo. Other former winners include Geoffrey Roth, Bill Finn and Francis Shiman-Hackett, and Tom Zampini.

So it gives me great pleasure to present this award to a friend of mine and a fellow member of the Constitution Yacht Club fleet. As is often the case for the “rookie” award, the recipient isn't a rookie to sailing. He started learning to sail in 2007, bought his current boat in 2009, and did a lot of New England cruising between then and 2015.

In 2015, he participated in his first race ever, which also happened to be the first race of the year, the Constitution Yacht Club New Year's Day race.Given that it was his first race, he finished a respectable 6th out of 9 in his class. He was bitten by the bug, and he wanted to race more. That year, he entered the CYC Wednesday Night Series and competed consistently from May until September. He told me that each time he went out, he learned something he didn't know before about his boat. He told me most of his sailing education up to this point was from reading, watching videos, and talking to people for their ideas, but this was a practical education about the importance of maintenance, cleaning, sail shape, and teamwork. And despite ending his season toward the bottom of his class, he told me at the end of season awards how much fun he had had, and that his 2016 would be different. And different it was.

In 2016 in the Wednesday Night series he placed a respectable 3rd overall for the season. He finished 3rd in the DH division in the Beringer, participated in the Offshore 160 in Newport in the solo division, and sailed in Figawi, among other races. The more he raced, the better prepared he was, and – as is often the case with this man – he had a plan, and each of his steps brought him closer to his first sailing Everest.

That Everest moment came in 2017, where, in addition to continuing his Wednesday successes and finishing 1st in the Beringer DH division, he took on the challenge of the Bermuda 1-2. It wasn't just about the seamanship, it was about the personal challenge of a 635 nautical mile passage, the planning and endurance. In his first ever Bermuda 1-2, he was 4th on the SH leg, 3rd on the DH leg, and finished 3rd overall in his class. Not a bad performance for someone in only their 3rd full year of racing.

As great as his race results have been, though, even greater has been his approach to the sport, and is part of why he is the Mass Bay choice this year for this award. He's inquisitive, always learning. He's always asking questions. He brings smart people aboard to help him learn how to get the most out of his boat. Yet at the same time he's giving back to our sport. Hehas gone out of his way to bring new sailors aboard to help cultivate the next generation of big boat racers. He's become actively involved in the CYC board, and advocates at every opportunity to help build the sport that we all love so much. He told me once that he had learned more about sailing in his first 2 years of racing than he had in his previous 8 years of cruising. It shows in his results and his attitude, and without giving anything away, we should all keep our eyes on him as he prepares for his next sailing Everest. Without further ado it is my pleasure to award the 2017 Rookie of the Year to my friend, the skipper of Prairie Gold, Phil Haydon!

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