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Having the Time of Their Lives

Two Californians traveled to the New York Yacht Club to pick up their reward and recognition for receiving the prestigious US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards. Given out since 1961 and sponsored by Rolex since 1980, the awards recognize male and female sailors who have demonstrated on-the-water excellence and superior results at international and/or national events. It’s an outstanding accomplishment for two very young and accomplished sailors.
Jim and Kathleen Kiriakis of StFYC went to New York to support fellow members Daniela Moroz and Caleb Paine, the 2016 US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman and Yachtsman of the Year.

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Daniela Moroz, from Lafayette in the East Bay, was only 15 when she shot to the top of the charts by winning the IKA Formula Kite World Championship in 2016 and then went on to win the female division of the inaugural Hydrofoil Pro Tour.

Caleb Paine from San Diego picked up his award this year at the age of 26 with his on-going success in the Finn class and after a dramatic wire-to-wire first-place finish in the medal race of the Rio Olympics to capture the bronze medal.

Both winners are members of the St. Francis YC and thanked supportive parents and the St. Francis Sailing Foundation for their success. StFYC pioneered the concept of kiteboard racing 12 or 13 years ago when the current commodore, Jim Kiriakis, headed up the Executive Race Committee. At the time, kiteboard racing was perceived as nearly impossible because, as past StFYC kiteboarder and 2012 Yachtsman of the Year Johnny Heineken said, "Kiteboarders hadn’t really learned to go upwind, except on an ebb tide, and a rat’s nest of tangled kite strings seemed the likely result." Naysayers have since been silenced.

While many Californians have won these prestigious awards, there have been only a couple of times when both the male and female winners have come from California in the same year. In 1986 Californians Dennis Connor and JJ Isler, both from San Diego, won the awards, and in 2002 John Kostecki and Liz Baylis, both from Marin County, won the awards.

Moroz and Paine were having the time of their lives when they picked up the awards at NYYC. Both plan to continue their winning ways, Moroz sailing on the foiling kiteboard circuit and Paine pursuing the California tradition of hunting for gold as he aims for the 2020 Olympics. 

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March is a transition month for sailing. As many Midwinter Series wrap up, some spring classics lead us into Daylight Saving Time (March 12) and the vernal equinox (March 20).