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America and the Sea Award

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret)

Mystic Seaport Museum presented its 2023 America and the Sea Award to Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), a decorated sailor, author, consultant, and businessman contributing to the American maritime culture through his nearly four decades of service and numerous books and articles on related subjects.

In the early pages of his book Sea Power Admiral Stavridis speaks of his first voyage on the Pacific: “As I emerged from the dark passageway of the ship, I was simply stunned by all the sunshine, the salt air and vast ocean in front of me…The Pacific grabbed me by the throat and said quite simply, ‘You are Home’ and I have never looked back.”

A Florida native, Jim Stavridis attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent 37 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of 4-star Admiral. Among his many commands were four years as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, and counter piracy off the coast of Africa. He also commanded US Southern Command in Miami, charged with military operations through Latin America for nearly three years. He was the longest serving Combatant Commander in recent US history. Following his military career, he served for five years as the 12th Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

In the course of his career in the Navy, he served as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense. He led the Navy’s premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Admiral Stavridis was promoted directly from 1-star rank to 3-star rank in 2004. He won the Battenberg Cup for commanding the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet and the Navy League John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational leadership, along with more than 50 US and international medals and decorations, including 28 from foreign nations. He also commanded a Destroyer  Squadron and a Carrier Strike Group, both in combat.

In 2016, he was vetted for Vice President by Secretary Hillary Clinton, and subsequently invited to Trump Tower to discuss a cabinet position with President Donald Trump. He earned a Ph.D. from The Fletcher School at Tufts, winning the Gullion prize as outstanding student in his class in 1983, as well as academic honors from the National and Naval War Colleges as a distinguished student. He speaks Spanish and French.

Admiral Stavridis has published twelve books on leadership, character, risk, the oceans, maritime affairs, and Latin America, as well as hundreds of articles in leading journals. An active user of social networks, he has tens of thousands of connections on the social networks. His TED talk on 21st-century security in 2012 has close to one million views. He tweeted the end of combat operations in the Libyan NATO intervention. Two of his most popular books are “Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character” published in 2019 and the novel “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” in 2021, which was a New York Times bestseller and is being published in 22 languages. His most recent book is “To Risk It All: Nine Crises and The Crucible Of Decision.” Admiral Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News.

He is happily married to Laura, and they have two daughters – one working at Google and the other a Nurse Practitioner and former naval officer, both married to physicians.

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America and the Sea Award

William “Bill” Pinkney: 2022

William "Bill" PinkneyMystic Seaport Museum recognized Capt. Bill Pinkney by awarding him the America and the Sea Award at a black-tie gala on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. To view a tribute video, award presentation, and an interview with Captain Pinkney conducted by 2013 America and the Sea Award recipient, Gary Jobson, please visit here.

William Deltoris Pinkney was raised in Chicago in the 1930s and 1940s. In elementary school he discovered Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry and resolved to have a great adventure when he grew up. In high school, Pinkney joined the Naval Reserve and after graduating from Tilden Tech High School, he trained as an X-ray technician, followed by active duty with the Navy, beginning at the Naval Hospital Corps School in Bainbridge, Maryland. He was then stationed in Puerto Rico, where he settled after his discharge years later and where he learned to sail and developed the sailing prowess that would serve him well in the adventures to come.

Pinkney eventually returned to Chicago, where he continued sailing and began racing. In 1977 he bought his first sailboat, a 29-footer that he sailed out of Belmont Harbor in Chicago. Often without a partner available, he learned how to sail single-handedly. As he approached the age of 50, he began to think about what legacy he would leave for his grandchildren. His mind returned to the idea of the great adventure he had promised himself when he was 12. He thought that sailing around the world would show his grandchildren how a person could apply the things that were learned in school to real life.

While Pinkney was planning for the circumnavigation, the principal of Douglas Elementary School, his alma mater, suggested that he use the trip to inspire a wider range of children. The project grew, funded by investors, and true adventure ensued in 1990 as Pinkney embarked on his solo circumnavigation of the globe on his 47-foot cutter, aptly named The Commitment, traveling from Boston around the five southern capes and back to Boston, spanning 27,000 miles and 22 months. The voyage had developed into the educational opportunity of a lifetime for so many children via video diaries, phone conversations, opportunities to track his progress through satellite technology, and lesson plans that included nautical calculations and the influence of faraway cultures brought to America from across the sea.

He departed on Sunday, August 5, 1990, sailing out of Boston Harbor. His first stop was Bermuda. From there he sailed to Salvador de Bahia, a province of Brazil that had been settled by enslaved people from Africa. From Brazil, he sailed across the Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa, a voyage of over 3,000 miles that took 34 days. After another 56 days, Pinkney completed the 5,300-mile leg from South Africa to Hobart, a port on the island of Tasmania that is part of Australia. He arrived in April of 1991, winter in Australia. Too late in the year to attempt the passage from Australia to South America, Pinkney took a six-month hiatus, returning to the United States and visiting schools to tell of his adventures up to that point in the voyage. He returned to Hobart in October of 1991 for the 4,600-mile journey to Cape Horn that took 65 days. Pinkney was greeted in Cape Horn by unceasing wind and waves, and despite having lost the aid of many of his instruments that had failed during the long crossing, Pinkney and The Commitment persevered, rounding Cape Horn successfully on Valentine’s Day 1992. When he sailed back into Boston Harbor on June 9, 1992, after having successfully circumnavigated the globe, he became the first Black man to sail around the world solo via Cape Horn. Gathered around to meet him and celebrate the day were hundreds of schoolchildren from schools all around Boston who had been following Pinkney’s voyage for two years, tracking his progress in their classrooms. A week later, Pinkney met another cheering crowd of adults and schoolchildren in Chicago, including students from over 150 schools who had followed his voyage. In the crowd were his two grandchildren, who had inspired the voyage.

In 1994 Pinkney joined the Board of Mystic Seaport Museum, serving for 14 years. During this time, he led a journey through the Middle Passage, the stage of the Atlantic slave trade in which millions of enslaved Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas as part of the triangular slave trade. He recruited teachers to sail with him while developing curriculum for their students. Departing in 1999 on a 78-foot ketch, The Sortilege, Pinkney, teachers, and the crew traveled a 12,000-mile route in six months, sailing first from Puerto Rico to Brazil where they visited the sites of former slave markets. They then sailed across the Atlantic to Accra in Ghana, and to Dakar in Senegal, where they also visited the infamous “Door of No Return,” a small island off the coast of Senegal, where enslaved people were loaded onto ships. On this trip, they were able to communicate with students in several hundred schools back in the United States via online computer service and satellite TV. This remarkable journey, shared with educators and classrooms across the country, brought to life personal connections to the history of slavery and the crucial role that seafaring played in that history.

Also, while a Mystic Seaport Museum Trustee, Pinkney became the first captain of the replica schooner Amistad, which was the first vessel constructed from the keel up at Mystic Seaport Museum.

The story of the original Amistad is one of remarkable bravery and great historic significance. In 1839, Mende captives from Sierra Leone had taken control of the Amistad, the ship transporting them to slavery. Unable to navigate back to Africa, the ship was captured and towed into the port of New London in Connecticut. The Mende were faced with slavery or execution, and their cause was taken up by many residents throughout Connecticut. U.S. Circuit and District courts ruled in favor of the Mende. This case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1841 the court agreed with the lower court decisions and the Mende captives were ordered freed.

Pinkney served as captain of the replica schooner Amistad from 2000 to 2003. Following retirement, he settled back in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, where he became the captain of the term charter catamaran Lady Dee cruising the U.S., British, and Spanish Virgin Islands.

Pinkney and his hometown friend Paul Mixon developed the Black Boaters Summit, a gathering of Black sailors and would-be sailors to bring the joy of sailing to a group that had not yet had the opportunity to go to sea. Over 20 years they have introduced more than 5,000 men and women to the sport. Many of the early attendees have developed new groups that have expanded the reach to others who have now sailed in faraway places such as Croatia, East Africa, and the Seychelles.

Pinkney has written two children’s books: Captain Bill Pinkney’s Journey, which became part of the Open Court Reading series for schools and the first-grade reading program of SRA/McGraw-Hill in 1994, and the recently published Sailing Commitment Around the World.

Pinkney is a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Belmont Yacht Club (Past Commodore), and the International Association of Cape Horners.

He has received the following awards and honors:

  • Recognized by President George H.W. Bush, Lord Mayor of Hobart (Tasmania, Australia), the Premier and President of Bermuda, and Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Paul Simon (D-Ill.), and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).
  • Recipient of honorary degrees from Becker College, Southern Connecticut State University, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
  • Chicago Yacht Association Yachtsman of the Year in 1992.
  • Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine in 1999.
  • Illinois Governor’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
  • Received the George Foster Peabody Award for the Documentary, The Incredible Voyage of Bill Pinkney.
  • Received the John Southam Award for the autobiography As Long as It Takes.
  • The account of his voyage was read into the Congressional Record of 102nd Congress by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2021.

Aside from his significant maritime adventures, Pinkney’s career took many turns following his discharge from the Navy. While in Puerto Rico he worked as a stringer for a local newspaper, as an elevator mechanic, and as a professional limbo dancer (after proving his skill in Friday night limbo contests in local clubs). He was a makeup artist, a product developer for Revlon and Johnson Products Company, and the Director of Program Services for the City of Chicago’s Department of Human Services.

The America and the Sea Award recognizes those individuals and organizations whose extraordinary achievements in the world of maritime exploration, competition, scholarship, and design best exemplify the American character. As a former trustee of Mystic Seaport Museum, and an ambassador to those who believe the maritime world is not their world, Capt. William “Bill” Pinkney has proven adept in showing everyone that the sea connects us all, embodying the Museum’s mission to inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.

Past recipients of the America and the Sea Award include outstanding yachtsman Terry Hutchinson; America’s Cup Hall of Famer Tom Whidden, one of the most acclaimed sailors of all time; American businesswoman and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, whose ocean explorations have advanced our understanding of the ocean’s biodiversity and vulnerability; groundbreaking Whitbread and America’s Cup sailor Dawn Riley and Oakcliff Sailing; philanthropist and environmentalist David Rockefeller, Jr., and his Sailors for the Sea; boat designers Rod and Bob Johnstone and their company J/Boats; author and historian Nathaniel Philbrick; maritime industrialist Charles A. Robertson; Hall of Famer sailor and author Gary Jobson; WoodenBoat Publications founder Jon Wilson; former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman; oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle; America’s Cup sailor William Koch; President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley; historian David McCullough; and our first honoree, legendary yacht designer Olin J. Stephens II.

 

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America and the Sea Award

Terry Hutchinson: 2021

Terry HutchiinsonTerry Hutchinson, one of the most admired and respected sailors in the yacht racing circuit and most recently the skipper, executive director, and tactician for the New York Yacht Club American Magic campaign for the 36th America’s Cup, is the 2021 recipient of the America and the Sea Award.

Hutchinson was honored for his storied record as an outstanding yachtsman, his multiple world championship wins, his courageous America’s Cup campaigns, but most especially for the leadership, integrity, courage and humility he has demonstrated as the leader of the American Magic campaign. Hutchinson exemplifies the very pinnacle of competitive sailing, both in victory, and in defeat.

“What truly sets Hutchinson apart is his leadership. He held his team together to compete in the America’s Cup, battling COVID-19 restrictions and numerous changes in fortune, including a severely damaged boat. Hutchinson led his team with the humble charisma that has defined his entire sailing career, indicative of the American spirit that the America and the Sea Award seeks to honor,” said Mystic Seaport Museum President Peter Armstrong.

“I am incredibly humbled by this honor,” Hutchinson remarked upon receiving the invitation to accept the 2021 award. “Tom Whidden, the 2020 award recipient, has been a great mentor, friend, and leader in our sport. To follow in his footsteps and that of the other great recipients is an absolute honor.”

Hutchinson’s reputation as an outstanding sailor and teammate began with his college sailing career at Old Dominion University, where he helped lead the team to four national championships, and continued through 16 World Championship wins, and 5 America’s Cup campaigns. Hutchinson was named the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year twice, which is a testament to the respect and admiration the sailing community has for him.

Mystic Seaport Museum recognized Hutchinson’s exceptional career by awarding him the America and the Sea Award at a black tie gala on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at the Metropolitan Club in New York City.

Past recipients of the America and the Sea Award include America’s Cup Hall of Famer Tom Whidden, one of the most acclaimed sailors of all time; American businesswoman and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, whose ocean explorations have advanced our understanding of the ocean’s biodiversity and vulnerability; groundbreaking Whitbread and America’s Cup sailor Dawn Riley and Oakcliff Sailing; philanthropist and environmentalist David Rockefeller, Jr., and his Sailors for the Sea; boat designers Rod and Bob Johnstone and their company J/Boats; author and historian Nathaniel Philbrick; maritime industrialist and NYYC Commodore Charles A. Robertson; Hall of Famer sailor and author Gary Jobson; WoodenBoat Publications founder Jon Wilson; former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman; oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle; America’s Cup sailor William Koch; President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley; historian David McCullough; and our first honoree, legendary yacht designer Olin J. Stephens, II.

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America and the Sea Award

Tom Whidden: 2020

Tom Whidden, one of the most applauded sailors of all time, member of both the America’s Cup Hall of Fame and the National Sailing Hall of Fame, and President and CEO of North Technology Group, parent company of North Sails, is the 2020 recipient of the America and the Sea Award.

Mystic Seaport Museum President Steve White remarked, “Tom is a perfect fit for this award. Not only does he have a distinguished record as a competitive sailor, but he has also served as an important ambassador for the sport and the maritime community. For young sailors across the country and beyond, he has been a positive role model and mentor.”

Whidden will be honored for his remarkable accomplishments in competitive sailing and his leadership in the design and manufacturing of technologically advanced sails at North Sails. “I have spent my life racing sailboats and making products that make those boats perform their best. For me to be recognized by the most prominent maritime museum in the United States, for doing what I love most, is a dream come true,” remarked Whidden.

Whidden’s career soared in 1979 when he joined Dennis Conner in a total of eight America’s Cup campaigns, racing as tactician in five series races and winning three times: 1980, 1987 (regaining the cup after Australia’s 1983 victory), and 1988. He has won the Newport-Bermuda Race five times, and had repeated wins on the European racing circuit.

Following his racing success, Whidden joined North Sails in 1987, building it into the largest sailmaking company in the world, and later becoming CEO and co-owner of North Technology Group. He led North Sails and North Technology Group through decades of evolution from manufacturing paneled sails in a vast network of sail lofts to the current centrally managed, technologically driven, manufacturing system.

In 2004, Whidden was elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame “for his brilliance as a tactical advisor, his soundness as a crew organizer, and his mastery of winning in difficult boats under the most demanding conditions.” Most recently, he was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

Mystic Seaport Museum will recognize Whidden’s remarkable career on and off the water by awarding him the America and the Sea Award at a black tie gala in Mystic, CT, on Friday, October 23, 2020. This affair is the premier fundraising event for Mystic Seaport Museum.

Past recipients of the America and the Sea Award include American businesswoman and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt; America’s Cup sailor and trailblazer Dawn Riley; philanthropist and environmentalist David Rockefeller Jr.; celebrated sailors and co-founders of J/Boats, Rod and Bob Johnstone; New York Times best-selling and National Book Award winning author Nathaniel Philbrick; oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle; former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman; WoodenBoat Publications founder Jon Wilson; yachtsman and author Gary Jobson; maritime industrialist Charles A. Robertson; among other maritime greats.

For invitations, please email advancement@mysticseaport.org/ or call 860.572.5365.

 

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America and the Sea Award

Wendy Schmidt: 2019

Businesswoman and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, who has built an incredible portfolio of work devoted to our oceans made possible through the many organizations she has founded, led, and inspired, is the 2019 recipient of the America and the Sea Award. The award is presented by Mystic Seaport Museum to individuals and organizations whose extraordinary achievements in the world of maritime exploration, competition, scholarship, and design best exemplify the American character.

“We are delighted to honor Wendy’s passion for and dedication to the sea,” said Mystic Seaport Museum President Steve White. “She stands as an exemplar for maritime studies and stewardship, and thus it is an honor for us to call more attention to her noteworthy work.”

Schmidt is President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, which supports programs in renewable energy, healthy food and agriculture, and human rights. Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, an additional foundation program, supports the development of new ocean technologies with applications for conservation and research in areas including habitat health, marine plastic pollution, and sustainable fisheries. Schmidt has worked to advance the science and knowledge about the impact that climate change is having on ocean health and sea level, something directly affecting Mystic Seaport Museum.

In March, Mystic Seaport Museum announced an initiative to work toward eliminating single-use plastics on its 19-acre site on the Mystic River. The program is being developed and implemented through the leadership of a staff Sustainability Committee in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.

Schmidt is co-founder, with her husband, Eric, of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which operates the research vessel Falkor, a mobile platform to advance ocean exploration and discovery, using open source data to catalyze the sharing of information about the oceans. Since 2013, more than 500 scientists from 165 institutions and 30 countries have conducted research on R/V Falkor.

She has sponsored two XPRIZE Challenge Prizes focused on ocean health and currently serves as the lead philanthropic partner of the New Plastics Economy Initiative, driven by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Schmidt has extended her oceans-focused work to the sporting world through 11th Hour Racing, partnering with the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race and the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team to put sustainability at the core of their operations, empowering race managers and athletes to be leaders and spokespeople on restoring ocean health.

In 2017, the Schmidts launched the Schmidt Science Fellows program, a post-doctoral fellowship that provides the next generation of leaders and innovators with the tools and opportunities to drive world-changing advances across the sciences and society. With an initial commitment from Schmidt Futures of at least $25M for the first three years, the effort is the beginning of a broader $100 million commitment to promote scientific leadership and interdisciplinary research.

A black tie gala was held in Schmidt’s honor in New York City Wednesday, October 30, 2019. This affair is the premier fund-raising event for Mystic Seaport Museum. Past recipients of the America and the Sea Award include America’s Cup sailor Dawn Riley, philanthropist and environmentalist David Rockefeller Jr.; oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle; historian David McCullough; legendary yacht designer Olin Stephens; President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley;  philanthropist William Koch; former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman; WoodenBoat Publications founder Jon Wilson; yachtsman and author Gary Jobson; maritime industrialist Charles A. Robertson; author Nathaniel Philbrick; and Rod and Bob Johnstone and their company J/Boats.

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America and the Sea Award

Dawn Riley and Oakcliff Sailing: 2018

Mystic Seaport Museum presented its 2018 America and the Sea Award to Dawn Riley and Oakcliff Sailing. The prestigious award recognizes those individuals and organizations whose extraordinary achievements in the world of maritime exploration, competition, scholarship, and design best exemplify the American character.

Riley stands alone as the first woman to compete in both the America’s Cup and in the Whitbread Round the World Race, two of the pinnacles in the sport of sailing that prior to her had been all but closed to women sailors. Riley also went on to become the first American, male or female, to sail in three America’s Cups and two Whitbread Round the World Races.

Mystic Seaport Museum President Steve White remarked, “Dawn Riley’s impact on international sailing speaks for itself, and this award gives the Museum the opportunity to call greater attention to the extraordinary accomplishments of this courageous woman.”

Riley trains premier-level American sailors for future Olympic, America’s Cup, and other world-class level sailing competitions, and leads a movement to reinvigorate the sport in this country. One nexus of this movement is Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, N.Y., where Dawn serves as Executive Director. A high-performance training center for sailors who have progressed beyond traditional coaching methods, Oakcliff’s vision is to “Build American Leaders through Sailing.” Riley’s leadership and the quality of the programs she oversees were recognized recently by New York Yacht Club’s American Magic, which is currently preparing a challenge for the 36th America’s Cup. This syndicate is partnering with Oakcliff to recruit and train members for their America’s Cup Team.

Riley pursued an impressive racing career on the water punctuated by unprecedented accomplishments such as her role as the watch captain/engineer on Maiden, the first all-women’s team in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race; pit person for America3, winner of the 1992 America’s Cup and first woman to have an active role on an America’s Cup team; skipper of Heineken, the only all-women’s entry in the 1993-94 Whitbread Race; team captain of America3, the women’s team in the 1995 America’s Cup; 1999 US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year; America True CEO and Captain in the 2000 America’s Cup; and winning skipper at the 2002 IC45 World Championships.

A black tie gala was held in honor of Riley and Oakcliff Sailing in New York City Wednesday, October 3, 2018. This affair is the premier fund raising event for Mystic Seaport Museum. Past recipients of the America and the Sea Award include philanthropist and environmentalist David Rockefeller, Jr. ; oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle; historian David McCullough; legendary yacht designer Olin Stephens; President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley;  philanthropist William Koch; former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman; WoodenBoat Publications founder Jon Wilson; yachtsman and author Gary Jobson; maritime industrialist Charles A. Robertson; author Nathaniel Philbrick; and Rod and Bob Johnstone and their company J/Boats.

We sincerely thank the following sponsors:

Platinum
William I. Koch
Betsy and Hunt Lawrence

Gold
Peggy and Grant Cambridge
J. Barclay Collins, II
Gowrie Group
Travelers

Silver
Irene and Charles Hamm
KPMG
Joanne and Michael T. Masin
Cayre and Alexis Michas
The Northern Trust Company

… and our 12 Bronze sponsors.

 

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America and the Sea Award

David Rockefeller Jr. and Sailors for the Sea: 2017

“We are proud to recognize the tremendous contribution David Rockefeller Jr. and Sailors for the Sea have made to educate and activate the maritime community in the goal of conserving and protecting the health of our oceans.  By forging a connection between boaters and ways in which they can help conserve the environment, they inspire all of us to take better care of the world in which we live,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.

David Rockefeller Jr., Chairman of Rockefeller & Co., is an active participant in the nonprofit arena, especially in the areas of the environment, the arts and philanthropy.  He served as a member of the Pew Oceans Commission from 2000-2003, and he founded Sailors for the Sea to educate the recreational boating community about significant challenges to ocean health and to motivate them to become ocean stewards. Sailors for the Sea is located in Newport, RI, with satellite offices in Japan, Portugal, and Chile.“Sailors for the Sea and I are incredibly honored to join the illustrious roster of America and the Sea Award recipients. Through this opportunity we look forward to fostering an even deeper collegial relationship with Mystic Seaport, broadening the scope and outreach of both organizations. It paves the way for our two organizations to collaborate more directly on projects that serve our shared ideals, and raise awareness of the issues both organizations hold dear, our maritime past and present and the future vitality of our oceans,” said Rockefeller.

Rockefeller is a Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Cultural Council and the David Rockefeller Fund.  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Former foundation affiliations include service as Trustee and Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, President of the Rockefeller Family Fund and Director of the Boston Foundation.  He is the former chair of the North American Nominating Committee for the Praemium Imperiale, the Japanese prize for outstanding international achievement in the arts.

He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and is married to Susan Cohn Rockefeller, an artist and filmmaker.

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America and the Sea Award

Rod and Bob Johnstone – J/Boats: 2016

Mystic Seaport honored Bob and Rod Johnstone – J/Boats with the 2016 America and the Sea Award. Presented annually by the Museum, the prestigious award recognizes an individual or organization whose contribution to the history, arts, business, or sciences of the sea best exemplify the American character.

The Johnstones received the award October 22 at a gala dinner held in their honor at the Museum. The gala will be the first and only dinner held in the Collins Gallery in the new Thompson Exhibition Building prior to its present use to display exhibitions.

“Over the past 39 years, the Johnstone family and their company have influenced American yachting and sport of sailing in incomparable ways. They have established a record of accomplishment that few will ever challenge, and they have instilled in countless Americans a passion for enjoying time on the water with family and good friends aboard good boats,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “For these reasons and many more, Mystic Seaport was proud to bestow its America and the Sea Award to Bob and Rod Johnstone – J/Boats.”

The J/Boats story began in 1974 when Rod, then an ad salesman for Soundings Magazine, designed and started building the 24-foot sailboat Ragtime in his Stonington, CT garage. Launched in the Spring of 1976, it beat everything in sight.

Bob, then vice president of marketing at AMF Alcort, saw the potential in Rod’s design and a 50/50 partnership was formed in February 1977 to build and market the J/24. Today, some 14,000 “J’s” in 40 different designs are sailing in more than 35 countries. “J” owners have won silver in major sailing events worldwide including Fastnet, SORC, Transpac, Pacific Cup, Swiftsure, Ensenada, Middle Sea, Sydney-Hobart, OSTAR, Chicago-Mac, and the Bermuda Race. The J/24 was named “Best Keelboat in 30 years” by SAIL Magazine in 1981. A decade later, the J/105 revolutionized keelboat design with its retractable bowsprit and asymmetrical spinnaker. Nineteen other “J” designs have earned Boat-of-the-Year or Hall of Fame recognition. Five designs have achieved World Sailing’s International Class status. J/Boats Inc. was named by Fortune in 1991 as one of America’s Best 100 Products. J/Boats in the USA are built in Rhode Island and by licensed builders in France, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, and China. J/Boats remains a family business.

Bob and Rod grew up racing LI One-Designs and Lightnings at the Wadawanuck YC in Stonington CT, where from 1947 to 1954 they took home many club and ECYRA trophies. With their father, Rob, they built Lightning #3310 in a suburban Glen Ridge, NJ, garage, setting them on a course of sailing for life.

After Princeton (’56), Bob spent 17 years managing Quaker Oats subsidiaries in Colombia and Venezuela. Returning to Chicago, he became Quaker’s Marketing Man of the Year. Later at AMF Alcort, he acquired marine market experience, a key to start-up success of J/Boats. In 2002, with the next generation in place at J/Boats, he founded MJM Yachts. The MJM 50z received the 2014 AIM Editors Award for Best Down East Cruiser 50 Feet Plus. Bob has won the 1969 Penguin Internationals, National Hospice Regatta, Maine Retired Skippers Race, New York Yacht Club Queen’s Cup plus Antigua, Block Island, Charleston, Key West and Down East Race Weeks. He was runner-up in the 1983 J/24 Worlds, served as Secretary/Treasurer of the United States Olympic Sailing Committee and was founding chairman of both the United States Youth Sailing Championship and J/24 Class Association. Bob and his wife, The Reverend Mary Johnstone, reside in Newport RI.  He is a member and Past Commodore of the Northeast Harbor Fleet and a member of the New York Yacht Club and Little Cranberry Island Yacht Club.

After Princeton (’58) Rod started designing and building sailboats while teaching history at the Millbrook School in NY from 1959 to 1962. He then ran a yacht brokerage in Stonington, later becoming a planner for submarine builder Electric Boat Co. Rod sold ads for Soundings from 1970 to 1977 when he came to know the key players in the sailboat industry, especially Everett Pearson, whose role as builder of J Boats designs for over 25 years was key to their success. In 1988 Rod co-founded Johnstone Yachts, Inc. with nephew Clay Burkhalter to produce his JY 15 sailboat design. Nephew-in-law, David Eck, took over in 1991 and produced over 3,300 JY 15s. Mystic Seaport uses JY 15s in its sail training program. Rod still helps design new J/ Boats and continues to race actively. He has won championships in the J/24, J/22, J/30, J/35, J/120, J/70 and J/88 classes and at various Race Weeks. Rod and his wife, Lucia, live in Stonington. He is a member and Past Commodore of the Wadawanuck Yacht Club, a member of the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club, Past Chairman of the Stonington Board of Education, and member of the Stonington Harbor Management Commission.

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America and the Sea Award

Nathaniel Philbrick: 2015

Mystic Seaport honored historian and author Nathaniel Philbrick with the 2015 America and the Sea Award. Presented annually by the Museum, the prestigious award recognizes an individual or organization whose contribution to the history, arts, business, or sciences of the sea best exemplify the American character.

Philbrick received the award October 14 at a gala held in his honor at the Metropolitan Club in New York City.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the award. Past recipients include oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle, historian David McCullough, legendary yacht designer Olin Stephens, President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley, philanthropist William Koch, former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, WoodenBoat founder Jon Wilson, yachtsman and author Gary Jobson, and maritime industrialist Charles A. Robertson.

“Like those recipients before him, Nat Philbrick’s work helps to elevate one’s understanding of the sea. With every work he publishes, his words speak to American history and they instruct us on our heritage in a very personal and approachable manner,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.

Philbrick is closely linked to the island of Nantucket, where he moved with his wife, Melissa, and their two children in 1986. In 1994, he published his first book about the island’s history, Away Off Shore, followed by a study of Nantucket’s native legacy, Abram’s Eyes. He was the founding director of Nantucket’s Egan Maritime Institute and is still a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association.

In 2000, Philbrick published the New York Times bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book is the basis of the Warner Bros. motion picture “In Heart of the Sea,” which is directed by Ron Howard and scheduled for release in December, 2015. The book also inspired a 2001 Dateline special on NBC and the 2010 two-hour PBS American Experience film “Into the Deep” by Ric Burns.

The author’s next book, Sea of Glory, was published in 2003 and won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society. The New York Times bestseller Mayflower, a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction. Mayflower was named one of the ten “Best Books of 2006” by the New York Times Book Review and is currently in development as a limited series on FX.

Philbrick’s latest New York Times bestseller, Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution, was published in 2013 and was awarded both the 2013 New England Book Award for nonfiction and the 2014 New England Society Book Award, as well as the 2014 Distinguished Book Award of the Society of Colonial Wars. Bunker Hill has been optioned by Warner Bros. for feature film adaptation.

Philbrick has received the Byrne Waterman Award from the Kendall Whaling Museum, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for distinguished service from the USS Constitution Museum, the Nathaniel Bowditch Award from the American Merchant Marine Museum, the William Bradford Award from the Pilgrim Society, and the Boston History Award from the Bostonian Society. He was named the 2011 Cushing Orator by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and has an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he delivered the commencement address in 2009.

His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. He has appeared on the “Today Show”, the “Morning Show”, “Dateline”, PBS’s “American Experience”, C-SPAN, and NPR.

Philbrick grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He was Brown University’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978.

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America and the Sea Award

Charles A. Robertson: 2014

(left to right) Mystic Seaport President Steve White, Charles A. Robertson, and Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees J. Barclay Collins, II

Mystic Seaport honored Charles A. Robertson with the Museum’s America and the Sea Award on November 5, 2014. Presented annually by Mystic Seaport, the award recognizes an individual or organization whose contribution to the history, arts, business, or sciences of the sea best exemplify the American character. Robertson received the prestigious award at a gala held in his honor in New York City.

The America and the Sea Award honors and celebrates those who embrace the scholarship, exploration, adventure, aesthetics, competition, and freedom the sea inspires. Distinguished past recipients include world-class sailor Gary Jobson (2013), founder of WoodenBoat publications Jon Wilson (2012), former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman (2011), oceanographer and deep sea explorer Sylvia Earle (2010), maritime collector and yachtsman William I. Koch (2009), president and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas B. Crowley Jr. (2008), Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough (2007), and famed yacht designer Olin Stephens (2006).

Robertson is founder, chairman and CEO of American Cruise Lines, Inc., Pearl Sea Cruises, Chesapeake Shipbuilding, and affiliated companies. His firms have designed and built 12 small cruise ships and approximately 70 other commercial vessels, up to 320 feet.

Engaged in the maritime industry since 1973, Robertson pioneered the small ship cruise industry in the United States with his founding of American Cruise Lines, now the largest cruise company in the country. He is also a recognized expert on cruise ship regulations in the United States. He holds a USCG Master’s License and First Class Pilot’s License for unlimited tonnage and has been an expert witness for the United States Coast Guard before the NTSB and Congressional Committees.

An avid sailor, he has won national and international events, including the Newport Bermuda Race, Queen’s Cup, and the National Championship in the Atlantic Class. An active commercial pilot, Robertson regularly flies modified ex-military aircraft and participates in shows and demonstrations around the country.

He and his wife, Carol, reside in Talbot County, Maryland, and Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Their three sons, Charles, Clark, and Carter, are involved in family business interests. Robertson has served as a Trustee of Mystic Seaport since 1989.

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