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US Sailing Volunteer Coach of the Year: Peter Becker (Rye, N.Y.)


Young American Junior Big Boat Sailing Team on Trip 41 High Noon


After helping to start and manage the Young American Junior Big Boat Sailing Team in Rye, New York, Peter Becker saw years of effort and training come together when his predominantly junior crew on the modernized Trip 41 High Noon found unprecedented success in the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race. High Noon was the second boat in the 133-strong fleet to arrive in Bermuda after the record-breaking, 100-foot super maxi Comanche. The team was also third overall in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, and took home the race’s first Stephens Brothers Youth Division Trophy.


Peter Becker

“It was a huge honor to be a part of that team, and really exciting throughout,” said Becker. “All in all, the kids came home with a wheelbarrow full of trophies and had a really memorable experience.”
Becker and other adult sailors at American Yacht Club (Rye, N.Y.) started the junior big boat program as part of a larger effort to build lifelong sailors. “On a big boat, success and safety are a bit about leadership, but a lot about teamwork,” said Becker, who was part of a ten-person team on High Noon, seven of which were juniors. “Young people learning how to operate effectively as a team will take away many lessons about how to succeed in a corporate environment, or just in life in general. There’s a lot of conversation these days about how we create sailors for life, and I’m a big believer that sailing on big boats can do that. You can race, cruise, go across oceans or just day-sail on big boats.”

High Noon was refitted with a new keel and other systems by 2015 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, Conn.), who donated the boat to the the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for the purpose of giving the Young American Junior Big Boat Sailing Team and other students access to a competitive offshore racing machine. After chartering the boat from the USMMA for the summer racing season, Becker and his team won the 2016 Onion Patch Series in addition to their impressive showing in Bermuda.

“I wanted to get the juniors a bunch of sea time, and give them confidence,” said Becker. “I also wanted to make the program resemble a sort of graduate school program for offshore sailing. I think giving back is important. None of us [adult sailors] would be where we are if we didn’t have people ahead of us who passed down this knowledge. None of these things happen singlehandedly. Our program has been supported by a lot of others like me. I do a bunch of the work, but it takes a lot of hands on a lot of oars to get to the end of it. It’s a rewarding equation, and an all-consuming one. My wife asked at one point last summer when I was going to stop, so I she could see me more.”

Source: US Sailing