Yacht racing is a test of will and wit in which crucial decisions are made with split-second precision. Preparation is rigorous and team spirit is paramount. Rolex has forged a privileged relationship with prestigious regattas as well as exciting yachtsmen and women, sharing the values inherent in every sailor. (from Rolex website)
Rolex President and CEO, Stewart Wicht presented Annie Haeger of Lake Beulah with her prestigious award noting the qualities of Rolex - integrity, excellence and endurance. After spending a lunch with both Annie and Steve Benjamin, he recognized the same qualities in the 2015 recipients of the Rolex awards.
The affair itself is phenomenally impressive from the NYYC itself with all its history and artifacts; the congregation of US's finest sailors and promoters; the exquisite attention paid to detail with dinner, decorations, momentos for attendees; the generous sponsorship by Rolex and, lastly, to the acceptance speeches themselves.
Annie Haeger is the second youngest recipient of the award; Benjamin the oldest. The contrast in the speeches provided a view into the career of a sailor. Yet, the similarities abounded - the dedication to the sport, the teams required to achieve goals, the personal sacrifice, the "endurance" mentioned by Rolex. It was an emotional expression of gratitude from both.
Annie's love for Lake Beulah and the ILYA was evident. Her large "entourage" in attendance spoke volumes about those who have supported, followed, challenged her. She is one loved young lady. JJ Fetter, four-time YOY, introduced Annie and beamed at the opportunity to welcome another 470 sailor into the fold. Additionally, she remarked on the rapid rise to the top in a boat with such technical complexity.
The most poignant moments came when thanking her parents individually - her dad for mentoring, supporting and someone for who she works to make proud; her mom, for setting a moral standard and teaching her to be kind in all situations. A direct quote from Will and Annie Haeger - "she's a saint". Past ILYA Commodore grandfather Milt Haeger beamed, beamed, beamed as he celebrated Annie's accomplishments and his 80th birthday in NYC.
And no less proud than her parents were the 25 of her Lake Beulah friends who could barely contain themselves.
Our second year in a row tells the tale of Kent Haeger and his vision some 15 years ago to establish a path for the development of champions. His legacy is numerous with college All-Americans, national champions in varying classes and all-around families who love to sail.
Annie's bid for the 2016 Rio games will be determined at the 470 Europeans, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, April 5-12. She is in the lead but only with a small margin. As an aside, in the photo above, back row, fourth from left is Luke Ramsey, named this week to the Canadian Olympic path.