San Juan, Puerto Rico (November 10, 2011) – James ‘Ding’ Schoonmaker (Naples, Fla.) today received the 2011 ISAF Beppe Croce Trophy, which honors an individual for their outstanding contribution to the sport of sailing.
ISAF President Göran Petersson presented the trophy, which was first awarded in 1988 in memory of Beppe Croce, the ISAF President from 1969-1986, to Schoonmaker at the 2011 ISAF Annual Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Petersson said, “Ding’s contribution and generosity to the sport is exceptional and equally matched by his active participation and success. Not content with excelling on the water, Ding has invested just as much time and passion in serving the sport on shore.
“Since 1968, Ding has been an active member of the International Yacht Racing Union and now of course ISAF. During his long and distinguished career with us, Ding has brought his wealth of experience and knowledge to so many aspects of the sport.”
On receiving the award Schoonmaker said, “It has been a great pleasure to have the opportunity to participate as a competitor as well as an official in Olympic events. It is a great privilege to be honored for serving the sport that I love.”
Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.), President of US Sailing, the National Governing Body for the Sport, said: “Ding Schoonmaker is one of the giants of American sailing as a competitor, supporter and international representative. Every year, thousands of competitors enjoy racing out of the US Sailing Center, in Miami. This was inspired by Ding and became a reality thanks to his leadership. Ding was a long time President of the International Sailing Federation and represented the United States with distinction. Receiving the Beppe Croce award is an outstanding tribute to his long time service.”
Schoonmaker’s involvement in sailing goes back to 1944 where he first sailed an Old Town 13 foot sloop at Watch Hill, R.I. After his first experience Schoonmaker was hooked and in 1949 he became involved in the Star class after Olympian Jack Price (USA) asked him to crew for him.
In 1952 Schoonmaker took to the helm and finished second at the American Star trials to become reserve helmsman for the Olympic Yachting Team for the 1952 Olympic Sailing Competition in Helsinki, Finland. Schoonmaker was also reserve helmsman for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
But the highlight for the American came in 1975 when he and Jerry Ford captured the Star World Championship in Chicago, Ill. In a 73-boat fleet Schoonmaker beat the reigning champion Tom Blackaller. His on the water achievements also include gold medals from the Star North American Championship, European Championships, South American Championships, Western Hemisphere Championships and Bacardi Cups.
Off the water, Schoonmaker’s record of service to ISAF dates back to 1968 when he became a member of the Keelboat Committee, before moving on to the Centreboard Boat Committee in 1972 and Permanent Committee in 1978. Schoonmaker became an ISAF Vice President in 1986 and held his position until 1994, a position he regained in 1998 and held until 2004 following four years as the Sailing Committee Vice Chairman.
Along with the work Schoonmaker has done for ISAF he has also financially supported sailing for many years. He helped to set up and was instrumental in the construction of the US Sailing Center in Miami, has given generously to US Sailing over the course of two decades, and in 1990 established a $150,000 endowment. He also gave Ivan Riano, a teenage refugee from Cuba, a Laser sailboat when he heard about Riano's sailing aspirations.
Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.), Chairman of US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee, said: “Ding Schoonmaker has been a leader in our sports for most of his life. He’s led on water as a champion yachtsman, he’s led at US Sailing and at ISAF, and he’s led the Star class. Ding has had as big an impact on our sport as anyone I can think of. But beyond that, Ding has also mentored countless people in the sport, showing how to do things the right way, with dignity and class. No one is more deserving of recognition like this than Ding Schoonmaker. We congratulate him and on a personal level, I’m very proud to call him my friend.”
Through his generosity and unrivalled commitment to sailing, Schoonmaker, alongside other ISAF members, formed the World Youth Sailing Trust 20 years ago. The Trust has since gone on to support sailors from less experienced sailing nations and provided them with coaching at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships.
Schoonmaker now resides in Naples, Fla. with his wife Treecie, where the pair continues to support sailing in the local community.