2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year: Bill Hardesty (San Diego, Calif.) has been named the 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. First shortlisted for the award in 2008 – when he won the Etchells World Championship – Hardesty reclaimed that class’ top title in 2011 after a dominating performance in an 81-strong fleet. He had several other class wins, including the Etchells Midwinters West Championship, and transitioned from skipper to tactician and translated his skills into wins in a number of additional classes which led the selection panel to commend the diversity of his achievements during the year. Hardesty’s notable performances as tactician included winning the 47th Congressional Cup in Catalina 37s and the CMRC Grade 2 Invitational in Tom 28s, along with top finishes at the Rolex Big Boat Series in Express 37s (second) and the Farr 40 World Championships (fourth).
From a personal standpoint, however, Hardesty is most proud of winning the ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Match Racing World Championship as tactician for skipper Ian Williams (GBR). The world championship series title was earned through wins of the Portimão Portugal Match Cup in Portugal, the Stena Match Cup in Sweden, and the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia.
“This is a huge honor,” said Hardesty after receiving word that he had been named the 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. “The long list of past winners is very impressive and includes people who I have always considered to be the best in the world. I would first like to thank Rolex for making sailing what it is today. Without their sponsorship of sailing, the sport would be a lot different.”
“A lot of credit goes to the teams I raced with this past year,” Hardesty continued. “Sailing is truly a group effort and winning this award would never have been possible without great teammates: the Etchells World Championship team of Steve Hunt, Mandi Markee and Craig Leweck, and Team GAC Pindar skippered by Ian Williams.
Hardesty graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1998, the same year he received College Sailor of the Year honors from the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association. A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Hardesty grew up sailing in San Diego and learned to sail with his father on Hobie beach cats prior to joining the junior sailing program at Mission Bay Yacht Club and subsequently San Diego Yacht Club.
After college graduation and a brief Laser campaign for the Olympics, Hardesty worked for a power plant in Los Angeles and then a solar tube company in San Diego. Now a professional sailor, he spends more than half the year living aboard a Wauquiez Hood 38 on which he is currently cruising Central America.