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2006 Trophy Winner

Robin Wallace (Newport, RI)

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US SAILING has presented its Harman Hawkins Trophy for excellence in race management to Robin Wallace (Newport, R.I.). The award was presented earlier today at US SAILING's Spring Meeting in Chicago, Ill. Presented annually, US SAILING's Harman Hawkins Trophy is awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the field of Race Administration (Judging, Race Management, Appeals and Racing Rules).

Robin Wallace has a record of service in race management that is truly extraordinary. He is an indefatigable race officer, having served at all levels of the sport of sailing from the America's Cup Challenger Series to far less formal Wednesday night races. He has received well-deserved praise for his work as Principal Race Officer for fleet races, match races and team races. He currently represents US SAILING at the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) as an International Race Officer and as a member of the Race Management Sub-Committee, the Medical Commission and the World Youth Sailing Trust. In addition, Wallace has served Rhode Island sailors as Chair of the Rhode Island State Yachting Commission.

Wallace was presented with the Trophy by Dick Rose, Chair of US SAILING's Race Administration Committee, as well as by Ron Ward, who last year was the first recipient of the Trophy.

The Trophy is named after Harman Hawkins (1919-2002), whose extraordinary involvement in sailing and numerous chairmanships of the Appeals, Judges, and Legal Committees brought him many honors and awards, including US SAILING's prestigious Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy. In his lifetime, Hawkins served as a President of US SAILING, Commodore of Manhasset Bay Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club and President of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound.

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Comments made by Ron Ward prior to the award of the Harman Hawkins Trophy to Robin Wallace:

Before saying anything about Robin Wallace, just this little note about Harman Hawkins and the origins of the Judges Committee.

Harman was Chairman of the first ever USYRU Judges Committee in the late seventies. That formative committee met in Annapolis and had some heavy hitters as members. I was honored to be part of a group that included Dick Rose, and Mark Baxter, Janet's father. So three of us are together again tonight for this presentation in Harman's name, with Janet representing her father.

I will not talk about Robin's many achievements and contributions to sailing. Dick will do that in his comments. I want to say that two years ago when Jim Capron told me of the Harman Hawkins Trophy and that I would be nominated for it, I suggested immediately that Robin Wallace was a very likely candidate.

After being chosen as the first winner, I felt strongly that Robin truly merited the award and submitted his name formally as a nominee. I could not be happier that the selection committee agreed with me.

Robin was born in Birmingham, U K. Was educated at Hardye's School in Dorchester, received several degrees from Oxford University, and interned at London Hospital. He was a resident at Boston Children's Hospital starting in 1965, and joined the Aquidneck Medical Associates pediatric practice at Newport in 1968.

He was an active duty major in the U S Army Medical Corps 1969 to 71. He served for two years in Viet Nam where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He started sailing in Weymouth, U K in 16' Falcon centerboards and continued sailing in 'Alphas, International 12 Square Meter Sharpies, and Royal Burnham One designs while at Oxford and in Medical School. When he moved to Newport he joined the local Shields Fleet and started his career of race administration, which brings him here tonight.

His long list of accomplishments includes many triumphs and some not so glorious times. One year when people were still interested in competing in the Admirals Cup as part of a U S team, there were actually Admirals Cup Trials held in Newport and about forty boats competed. Robin was the principal race officer and set up perfect lines and courses. The fleet however was the most aggressive that I had ever seen and charged the starting line at every start. There were no black flags in those days, so there was general recall after general recall. After four hours of no starts, Robin had to send every one home to cool off overnight. So much for a talent for choosing good courses and square lines.

Among his honors, in addition to holding the Bronze Star, Robin was awarded the City of Newport Medal of Honor for services to sailing, and at Sail Newport there is a 'Dr. Robin Wallace Youth Sailing Center.' As Chairman of the Rhode Island State Yachting Committee he has provided vital fiscal support for innumerable sailing events in the state.

He has contributed greatly to sailing, about which you will hear more, but I point out the Robin Wallace who is quiet, patient, willing, and always a gentleman.

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Comments made by Dick Rose at the time of the award of the Harman Hawkins Trophy to Robin Wallace:

The community of sailors seems to me to be small and interwoven. My second boat was a treasured wooden Lightning that, as a teenager, I raced on Manhasset Bay. Invariably, Harman Hawkins was the chairman of the race committee for those races. So awarding a trophy in Harman’s name brings back great memories of some of my favorite sailing experiences.

The selection committee for this year's winner of the Harman Hawkins Trophy was US SAILING Past President Dave Irish, longtime editor of Sailing World, John Burnham, and the recently retired President of the Interscholastic Sailing Association, Larry White.

This year's winner, Robin Wallace, was picked for his many decades of service in race management, particularly as a Principal Race Officer. Robin has served on the Race Committees of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, since 1972, and the New York Yacht Club, since 1988. Here is a sample of the events at which Robin has served as PRO in Newport:

  • America's Cup Challenger Series in1977, 1980, and 1983

  • World Youth Championship

  • World Disabled Championship

  • MAXI worlds

  • ROLEX Women's Keel Boat Championship

  • UBS/Swedish Match match racing series

  • Patriots Cup - International Match Races

  • Alinghi/Oracle match races

  • ISAF 2005 World Team Race Championship last year 2005,

  • And as PRO for the Storm Trysail Club on Block Island.

He also is the PRO for many local events including the Ida Lewis Yacht Club's Wednesday Night Shields Fleet races - that's 21 Wednesday nights from early May until October. The fleet typically numbers 28-32 boats on the line! It's not uncommon at the end of an afternoon for Robin to jump off the signal boat for a US SAILING youth or Junior Olympics event and hop aboard the signal boat for the Shields just in time to start their race at 5:30.

In addition he assisted many times on the Newport committees for the Singlehanded Trans Atlantic races, the Newport/Bermuda and the Annapolis/Newport races. He was on the race committee for the 1986-'87 Louis Vuitton Races in Freemantle, and was advisor to the Royal Yacht Squadron for the 12 Meter Class during the 2001 America's Cup Jubilee in Cowes.

Robin is a member of the US SAILING Race Management Committee and the Sports Medicine Committee. ISAF Vice-President Dave Irish reported on Robin's contributions to ISAF. Robin currently represents US SAILING as an ISAF International Race Officer and has been selected by the ISAF Council to serve on the ISAF Medical Commission, the ISAF Race Management Sub-Committee and the World Youth Sailing Trust. Dave summed up his review of Robin’s contributions to ISAF by saying, "I have personal knowledge of the high regard in which Robin is held by the international sailing community."

I'd like to conclude with three short reports from others that I have received that, more than any list of regattas, captures why we are recognizing Robin tonight:

Robin is thorough. Consider this, told to me by Patty Payson, who served with Robin on the race committee for races during the New York Yacht Club's Annual Cruise.

I was running Robin's mark boat. Late one day during a long race the wind died and the current turned foul. It looked like we might have to blow the race off, but at last, a sou'wester came in like gangbusters. Robin radioed my boat to shorten and finish boats at the last turning mark. After all boats had finished, Robin told us to "pick up the finish mark and head in". I radioed back, "I think we have to leave it." When he asked why, I said I'd tell him after we got in, but he became insistent: we had to retrieve the mark, we couldn't come in without it. You could hear his mounting exasperation when I just kept saying: "I'm sure we have to leave it." The finish mark was red nun #8.

As a rules man, I particularly liked this report from John Burnham:

One thing I admire about Robin, besides his ability to get off good races in the fading and sometimes changeable breeze of a late afternoon, is upon occasion when a sailor bends the rules a bit and there hasn't been a protest. Robin will, as needed, drop by to have a word with the sailor about what the pertinent rules are and the importance of doing the right thing, and invariably this ends up with a quiet withdrawal and a lesson well learned without major upset or controversy.

Finally, Peter, also known as "Luigi", Reggio says of Robin's contributions to race management, "He does it all for the competitors, not for himself."