Coutts, Spithill, Koch & Melges Support And Lend Credibility To The New Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation

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10 December 2010

Sir Russell Coutts, James Spithill, Bill Koch, Buddy Melges, Dirk de Ridder, Ross Halcrow, Anna Tunnicliffe, Kevin Burnham and Morgan Reeser help launch the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation benefiting youth sailors in South Florida

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (2010 Dec 10)- The Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation successfully hosted its inaugural benefit on Monday, December 6 to officially recognize its formation. The occasion was extra special, attracting some of yachting's most high-profile players, legends and renowned personalities. BMW ORACLE Racing's CEO, four-time America's Cup Champion Sir Russell Coutts, 33rd America's Cup winning-helmsman James Spithill, and BOR trimmers Dirk "Cheese" de Ridder and Ross Halcrow were on hand to mingle with 200+ guests at the Lauderdale Yacht Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The dynamic Bill Koch and Buddy Melges of America 3, Olympic medallists Anna Tunnicliffe, Kevin Burnham and Morgan Reeser were also in attendance to support the foundation.

As if the inception of the Foundation wasn't enough to celebrate, the evening was filled with unforgettable highlights. The energetic and wonderful commentary of Drew Sattee kept the audience fully engaged for over two-and-a-half-hours as Koch, Melges and Coutts made short presentations that were educational, encouraging and most importantly, inspirational to many of the on looking youth sailors, their parents and some of Fort Lauderdale's high society.

Guests were hypnotized by Melges as he campaigned the mission of the Foundation. "This is something you should support. Think of all the places they'll go. Think of all the friends they will make. Think of all the opportunities they will have. Those are the things that last. These qualities are what make the sport of sailing unique and bring a lifetime of reward. This Foundation is where it all starts."

Seven of the Lauderdale Yacht Club's junior sailors were present and honored for a variety of 2010 accomplishments. Alie and Liza Toppa (both 12), Wade Waddell (14), Christopher and Duncan Williford (both 15) are the 2010 USODA National Team Racing Champions. An impressive repeat victory at the USODA Team Racing Midwinter Championship earned them the right to travel to Venice, Italy to compete at the International level.

Christopher Williford was further acknowledged about winning his second consecutive IODA North American Championship. He qualified for the IODA South American Championship, earning another back-to-back opportunity to represent the U.S. at the IODA World Championships in Malaysia in January 2011.

"The future of our sport is greatly dependent on how well youth and junior sailing is supported around the world." said Coutts. "Contributing to a Foundation such as this, is a big step in making dreams come true, which can mean so much. I know that first hand. When we explore new developments at the America's Cup level it is about strengthening the sport, discovering new concepts that will take us to the next level of competitive sailing. This Foundation offers you a way to directly impact an extremely talented and skilled youngster's future. They too, are the next generation in sailing."

2005 Melges 24 World Championship crew member Mac Agnese (16), Christina Lewis (17) and Erika Reineke (17) were each noted for their superb performances at the ISAF Volvo Youth Worlds. Together, they earned two of the three total medals acquired by the U.S. at the event. Reineke received additional kudos for her domination at the 2010 Youth Laser Radial World Championship in Largs, Scotland. Rounding out her impressive list of accomplishments, Melges stood up to address specifically the bright-eyed Reineke, informing that she had been named among those nominated to receive the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award. A radiant and smiling Reineke commented, "Wow. It's like a dream come true." The moment could not have been more appropriate, as Melges himself was the first to receive the prestigious award in 1961.

Rounding out an evening of impeccable accolades, Arthur 'Tuna' Wullschleger was congratulated on receiving the Harmon Hawkins Trophy for his outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the field of race administration. Wullschleger received a heart-felt standing ovation from the entire audience.

Coutts furthered Melges' initial thoughts and commented about how initiatives like the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation are very necessary and play an integral part in the future of the sport. Assisted by Spithill, Coutts entertained junior sailors with a quiz that in turn rewarded them well. Official BOR caps signed by Coutts and Spithill were given and two lucky kids were promised rides on an America's Cup boat.

"It is pretty amazing what these kids are doing. These kids are so good and work so hard. They put so much time into this." said 2008 Gold Medallist Anna Tunnicliffe. "They obviously have great support from the Club and their parents. I'm convinced we've got the next Russell Coutts here. When they asked me to be a part of this, it was an easy decision. I know how important it is to have some one believe in you and support you. Whatever it takes to help them follow their dreams, I am happy to do it."

The night ended on a high-dollar-note. Koch initiated a donation matching contest that resulted in the Foundation's first substantial contributions. "Our goal this evening was to just let everyone know what we are trying to do and gain support." commented Mark Smith, Chair of the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation. "Never once did I imagine that we would have these types of donations given by the end of the evening. I am still in awe. Clearly, this is an amazing cause for so many reasons. Having Russell and his team here as well as Buddy, Bill, Morgan, Kevin and Anna really says a lot without having to say very much at all. We see them and want the same great opportunities and success for every youth sailor in South Florida."

Afterwards, more than 35 junior sailors gathered and personally spoke with the special guests, acquiring autographs, sharing sailing stories and especially, thanking those who generously contributed to the Foundation.

Effective immediately, the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation is accepting donations and contributions. Download a Foundation Brochure and help build character in youth through sailing.