Commodores Celebration … plenty of commodores, much to celebrate!

It happened in a flash – another whole year of Arizona sailing has gone by. AYC wrapped-up this year’s racing, cruising, learning, and social activities with the annual Commodores Celebration, held at a very packed Culinary Dropout in Tempe with 80-members and guests on-hand. Fantastic food complimented by beverages that flowed as easily as the sailing stories and by great people – old members and new – made for an evening of fun, friendship, and laughter.

There was much to celebrate! The evening’s program began with recognition of our former commodores – 11 were in attendance! — and progressed to the presentation of awards. Among the many deserving and noteworthy awardees were:

  • Emory and Debbra Heisler: in one of the evening’s highlights, the Board of Directors recognized Emory and Deb with Distinguished Life Membership. This high distinction was earned for their many years of selfless contributions to AYC and Arizona sailing through various roles, including their service on the Board, where both served as Commodores. Emory has also dedicated years of his time to helping with the Arizona Sailing Foundation initiatives.
  • Jen Moffitt: for the second year running, Jen took first place in the Sunfish Fleet, then went on to compete in the Club Championship, taking on AYC’s top talent. After a day of intense, fun competition and good wind, she battled her way into the winner’s circle, again claiming AYC’s top honor – the coveted Club Championship trophy.
  • Cindy Pillote: recipient of the Volunteer Service Award in recognition of her years of leadership and service to both AYC and the Arizona Saililng Foundation (ASF).
  • Dick Krebill: recognized with the Sportsmanship Award for his gentlemanly demeanor, both on and off the water, over many years as a strong competitor in AYC racing.
  • Cade Miller: Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) “Heavy Lifting Award” recipient.
  • Razel Holloway: AYC Wayne Jason Tucker Award for Outstanding Junior Sailor.
  • Will Bailly: Turned Turtle Award, presented in fun by George Sheller to recognize his spectacular capsizing of Cindy Pillote’s Buccaneer during the Birthday Regatta, which was eventually righted – undamaged – with the assistance of a nearby scuba diver!

Out-going commodore Bob Naylor shared his parting thoughts on the year gone by, which included:

  • thanks and recognition to an outstanding Board of Directors for their strong engagement and many achievements this year.
  • thanks to our many members who furthered the Arizona sailing community over the course of the year.
  • recognition of Thomas Jensen, AYC’s 300th, and newest, member!
  • shout-outs and recognition to a host of members and club officers, including:
    • Joanne Aspinall for her leadership and volunteering in many areas, including arranging our annual Dairy Springs campout, serving as Co-chair for the Birthday Regatta (BDR), and as Chair for the next BDR.
    • Gordon Briner, who assisted with Adopt-a-Boat coordination this year.
    • Maryellen Ferring for her partnership with Rear Commodore Lori Reger in arranging for our many excellent guest speakers.
    • Rob Gibbs, who has served for years as the Club Scorer, diligently compiling and publishing racing standings every week.
    • Dave Henning and Will Nowak for their busy year as Membership Directors, during which AYC enjoyed a significant increase in membership.
    • Sadie Hoberman for her outstanding leadership of the ASU Sailing Team and her growing and strengthening of the ASU – AYC partnership.
    • Ed Huntsman for serving as AYC’s Safety Chair, during which he conducted a thorough powerboat certification class and chaired a safety incident review committee, which led to the approval of a standing Safety Committee. Ed and Deb were also responsible for arranging one of our power-house guest speakers this year – U.S. Sailing president Rich Jepsen.
    • Deb Huntsman for implementing a much-needed, fun, and entertaining instructional program – L.A.S.T. (Learn About Sailing Things) – for new and beginning sailors.
    • Jen Moffitt for leading our 20/40 Initiative focused on appealing to and increasing membership of young adult sailors. Jen also led the successful WAYC Women’s Racing Clinic.
    • Joe Motil for implementing a successful cruising program within AYC this past year, which included about a half-dozen Catalina cruises.
    • Fay Powell for her leadership in forming the Women of AYC Committee (WAYC), focused on improving the engagement and participation of women in all aspects of AYC and in club racing.
    • Lori Reger, who, in addition to her service on the Board, has cheerfully welcomed members and guests to our monthly meetings for the past 11 years as our friendly Greeter.
    • Tom Sinnickson who, as a new member, took on the role of Multi-hull Fleet Captain, creating a reinvigorated multi-hull fleet, and resulting in several new sailors joining AYC.
    • Ralph Vatalaro who, in partnership with Deb Huntsman’s L.A.S.T. program, implemented the FUN Fleet to provide on-the-water sailing experiences to new and beginning sailors.

Commodore Bob next introduced Dennis Lynde as the presiding Installation Officer responsible for relieving the outgoing Board and commodore, and installing the incoming leadership team. Of all the past commodores in attendance, Dennis has the longest AYC membership, spanning very nearly half-a-century. Dennis thanked the Board, relieved them of their duties, welcomed new board members Martin Lorch (Vice Commodore), Ed Scheletsky (Rear Commodore), and Olivia Jackman (Membership Director), and installed the new Board. Dennis then turned-over AYC’s helm to incoming Commodore Marshall Williamson.

Marshall kept the energy going, discussed his plans for the coming year, and ended the evening’s program on an upbeat and positive note. But not before the final voting on, and presentation of, one last award … Ye Blunder Bucket!

Throughout the evening, nearly a dozen Blunder Bucket nominations were offered, discussed, argued, and, well, laughed at. The competition was fierce, with multiple worthy capsizes, missed marks, bad racecourses, and other guffaws. As with the Club Championship this year, history has a way of repeating itself. Last year’s Commodore Celebration ended with Marshall taking home the trophy. We closed the party this year with Marshall again winning the Bucket … this time for an unfortunate voice-to-text email translation error. As far as anyone can recall, it was the first time that a newly installed Commodore also won the Blunder Bucket! Marshall definitely had a big night!

Please join me in wishing our new Commodore and Board the very best in the coming year, and provide them with your full support. Marshall’s leadership, extensive racing experience, passion for AYC and our sport, and his overall friendly good-nature, coupled with the Board’s considerable energy and experience, bodes very well for AYC in the coming year.

Many thanks to everyone who attended AYC meetings, cruised, raced, served on our Board and various committees, volunteered with our many functions and events, and joined in our social activities this past year. And, to all of our members, many of whom have been sailing Arizona with AYC for many decades, thank you for keeping this wonderful club strong and healthy for another year and into the future. And to all of our new members, welcome aboard and thank you for joining AYC. Lastly, to everyone who attended, and those who helped organize, the Commodores Celebration, thank you for an outstanding evening of fun, laughter, friendship, and camaraderie. What a great way to end a great year.

To see more photographs by Joanne Aspinall and Mike Ferring, click here: Commodores Celebration.