Walter Erben Award Winners


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This award was established in 2001 by Mary Anne and Bill Ward in memory of Mary Anne's father. Walter Erben was a tireless supporter of sailing and racing for many years. Whether it was to set marks, rescue an overturned boat or any of the other numerous tasks it takes to run a regatta, Walter Erben was there to do the job in his own quiet way. He enabled others to pursue their pleasures and goals in sailing and racing. This award is for the person who exemplifies this ethic of helping others with no thoughts of anything in return. This person doesn't have to be a racer or even a sailor but someone who has done or continually does something to help promote sailing. We all know those people and often take them for granted.

"From the time I was a small child my father and I spent hours on his boats. He taught me to love the water and experience the joy of being on the water. When my Dad passed away in 2001 I wanted to find ways to honor him and his spirit, his kindness and his constant reminder to be grateful. My husband, Bill and I decided to create the Walter Erben Memorial Award as a way to say thank you to the people in Brevard County who help make sailing the wonderful event it is, whether they are on the water or behind the scenes."
                                                                                                              ~ Mary Anne Ward~

This person may not necessarily be a racer... it should be someone who has done or continually does something to help promote sailing, but may never really be thanked. Maybe someone who does race committee all the time willingly--maybe the person who has blown up every buoy for years--maybe someone who always makes the events a success, so more people turn out--or maybe it is a racer who goes 'above and beyond' to foster a spirit of camaraderie on the water.

Nominations are accepted throughout the year. To nominate someone, email the information to Jim Lacy,  You should include the person's full name, and a discussion of why you think they should receive the award (be specific). 

This was the 13th year of the presentation of the Walter Erben Memorial Award. This award is for those who exemplify Walter Erben's
spirit in our sailing life. In the thirteen years this award has been presented all of the honorees have exemplified Walter Erben's spirit of
selfless support of sailing. We on the Space Coast are so blessed to have the breadth of talent and willingness to make sailing here a venue to attract national and international events every year.


The Award Winners

2013 - Tony Godden

Tony Godden is the honoree for the 2013 Walter Erben Award. Erin Walters nominated Tony and here's why. Tony has been introducing complete novices to sailing for years. His love and enthusiasm for sailing and teaching is contagious and it is carried on by those he has introduced to sailing. His J30 and J24 are his classrooms. Both are usually out on the water for Rum races and regattas. He has coached and taught over twenty women and many men in the past few years. His protégés do all of the crewing with Tony instructing and filling in if needed. To quote Erin, "One of his favorite things to do when moving the boat to or from a race is to put the least experienced person on the helm. Quite often, that person will exclaim "but I don't know how! I can't do t his." and Tony would show them that they can, and that sailing can be accessible to everyone." They learn from him as he learns from them. He has given many people their first chance at sailing and at least five people have gone on to get their own boats. Most everyone he's touched have said, "Tony IS the reason I sail today.
Congratulations Tony Godden!

2012 - Jim Henry


This year's recipient of the Walter Erben Memorial Award is Jim Henry. Like Walter Erben Jim Henry has worked and then worked some more to make things happen. Jim Henry is dedicated in his support of women's sailboat racing and river and ocean racing in general. He has been for more years than any of us can count. Currently he is the Coach of three women's teams. He is generous with his boats, time, talent and equipment. He is supportive of his girls and many others. He offers to help before a person thinks to ask for his help; and if asked for his help he graciously gives it without hesitation. Jim Henry has also worked hard in formal positions such as Fleet Captain of Melbourne Yacht Club and Commodore in 2010. The spirit of Walter Erben was to help. The spirit of Jim Henry is to help. We are fortunate to have Walter Erben's and Jim Henry's.


Mary Anne Ward & Jim Henry
photo courtesy of Ross Herbert

                                                                              Congratulations Jim!


2011 - Dave Noble

This year’s recipient of the Walter Erben Memorial Award is Dave Noble. His 30 plus years of involvement in the Space Coast sailing community embodies the spirit of Walter Erben. As an FIT student he was captain of the sailing team. After graduating he was coach and adjunct faculty at FIT for sailing. He’s been MYC Fleet captain numerous times. He’s arranged and sponsored many seminars for various fleets along with rules and tactics seminars over the years including having Gary Jobson give a presentation at FIT.

Dave has been instrumental in bringing and growing various fleets to the area including Lasers & Thistles among others.

Through his dedication and hard work for the past 5 years he has revived the J 24 fleet to 9 boats and growing. He’s scoured the region for boats that are available and has expedited the process of getting boats to local sailors. He’s started a new series of weekly evening J24 racing. Fleet 87 has come back to life through his efforts. As trends wax and wane on the Space Coast sailing scene Dave always has ideas and actions to keep sailing vibrant.
        Photo courtesy of Jim Lacy

Congratulations Dave!


2010 - John Fox
                Photo courtesy of Ross Herbert
John Fox is this year's recipient of the Walter Erben Memorial Award. Sailing and boats are John's  life's work and his passion. Since childhood he's sailed, raced and owned many boats. In his work he has engineered many successful race boats for many designers around the country and the world, but that's not why he is our recipient. His support of sailing on the Space Coast and other places makes him special.

John has evolved from a competitor to organizer to official and judge; always much to the benefit of sailors up and down the east coast. This October John became certified as a Regional Race Officer and he's also a  Match Racing Umpire. Two years ago John began umpiring match races in Cocoa and Rollins College. As fleet captain for MYC in 2007 John ran the U.S. Multihull Championships for the Hobie Alter Trophy. In 2008 he was PRO for the Laser Masters Midwinters that had close to 70 Laser sailors in attendance. Also, in 2009 he was the PRO for the C-22 State Championship in Cocoa. In 2010 John was PRO for the Snipe Women's Nationals at Florida Yacht Club in Jacksonville. John is always working at local regattas as PRO or mark boat. As of this writing John and his wife, Nancy, have worked 16 events in 2010 with 3 more to do: two in Cocoa and the Kettle Cup Regatta on Lake Monroe.  John has gone so far as to buy a bigger boat to support racing even better.   

Congratulations John!

Pat Lambert  was also nominated for the 2010 Walter Erben Award. The sailing community thanks Pat as well for all his efforts.


2009 - Jerry Butz  

This is the ninth year the Walter Erben Memorial Award has been presented to that person who has
 promoted sailing in a special way here in Brevard.

The award for 2009 is given to Jerry Butz. Because of his dedication and hard work through his Sail a
Small Boat Day and Youth Sailing Program with Brevard Parks and Recreation he’s brought sailing to
dozens of members of our community who might have never had the opportunity. He is a tireless
supporter of local regatta’s as a sponsor and participant. As a member of the Marine Advisory Council
he’s working to ensure that recreational boaters have fair access to and fair policies from state,
local and federal agencies governing our waterways. Through his efforts and that of the Council there may
be a sailing center in our future.

Jerry had a dream of bringing match racing to our community and he has created a sanctioned world
class regatta with nationally and internationally ranked sailors and Olympic hopefuls with umpires and
officials from around the country. Match racing is a new dynamic for our sailing community and has
reenergized many sailors to get out and go racing.
Congratulations Jerry Butz

Other nominees for the 2009 Walter Erben Award were: John Fox of Melbourne Yacht Club, Jim Henry
of Melbourne Yacht Club, Kirk Ketterer of Titusville Sailing Club and John Martin of Melbourne Yacht
Club. The sailing community thanks them for all of their efforts as well.

2008 - Rachele Ross

This year’s recipient of the Walter Erben Award is Rachele Ross. This Award is given to the sailor who has shown service and dedication to the sailing community. Walter Erben would be honored to know that Rachele has shown tireless dedication to the sailing community and is so well deserving of this prestigious award.

Thirty years ago, after many requests for a women’s race, Rachele was asked to plan and host a dinner at Melbourne Yacht Club. She agreed, under the condition that the men of the club run a race for women only... and that after the race they cook and serve the dinner and do the clean-up afterwards. They agreed! And so the Mermaid Regatta was born! 

 Little did those men realize that Rachele was and is the ultimate Party Planner, with her formidable organizational and motivational skills; she has guided the Mermaid Regatta through all thirty years of races, seminars, dinners and entertainment.  To her, planning a regatta is no more difficult than collecting seashells at the shore! From T-shirt and flyer design to event and entertainment planning to party theme design to recruiting for dinner and entertainment committees to racing her own boat Sleighride, Rachele does it all. For all MYC’s parties and racing venues, she IS the Chairman of the Board when it comes to shore-support. And when Shore Captain duties allow, she and husband Jerry also volunteer Sleighride for race committee, youth sailing and other on-the-water regatta needs. Today The Mermaid Regatta is one of the longest running All Women’s Regattas in the country, thanks to Rachele’s hard work and dedication.

For over thirty years Rachele and Jerry have raced somewhere in Brevard County almost every weekend of the year! And Rachele has always made sure that ladies were part of Sleighride’s crew. She was born to the water and all the joys that being on the water provide. Her lady recruitment schemes have been the envy of many a gentlemen’s yacht. To her it’s not foremost the challenge of getting to the finish first, but rather the sharing of joy and friendships that being on the water gives her.  What greater purpose that a race provides then the utmost excuse for all to enjoy when “Going on a Sleighride”!

Congratulations Rachele! For over thirty years now you have given us the best party, the best regatta entertainment, the best tee-shirt designs, the best organized
and notable good-time we have ever enjoyed! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the best friend you are and for giving us all the ultimate experience! “You’re Number One”!

~Jan Crawford, Sleighride crew since 1981~                                                                      



2007 - Luis Delgado  


This year's recipient of the Walter Erben Award, Luis Delgado of the Titusville Sailing Club, embodies the spirit and ethic of Walter Erben with an impressive resume of service to the sailing community , the Space Coast Community and to our country.

In addition to being a family man, he is a Commander in the United States Naval Reserve, a US Sailing certified small boat instructor, a US Sailing certified keel boat instructor and a United States Naval Academy Sailing Instructor.

He had taught the Red Cross Basic Sailing Course for the past 11 years to more than 350 people.

In 2005 he started the Titusville High School Sailing team with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps to teach basic seamanship, sailing and water safety. He is currently working with the team in building a fleet of Club 420's to further this effort. In the meantime, he has helped to acquire 2-man boats for the high school sailing and intermediate class.                                                                                  Luis Delgado with MaryAnn Ward    

Luis and the Titusville Sailing Club are currently in negotiations with Brevard Parks and the city of Titusville to expand the storage facility to increase the size and type of boats in their training fleet.

Luis is an individual who has focused his time and ability in sailing on the most important aspect of being a member of the sailing community, he is an educator. We can expect more creative ideas and efforts from Luis in the future. Our sailing community will feel the effects of Luis' efforts for years to come.

Other nominees for the 2007 Walter Erben Award were:  John Fox, Marlene Sassaman and Rachele Ross.  The sailing community thanks them for all their efforts as well.


2006 - Gerry Moores

Gerry Moores is the honoree for the Walter Erben Award in 2006. 

The Walter Erben Award for 2006 saw the most nominations since it's inception in 2001. Nominees from one end of the Space Coast to the other were submitted. The breadth of desire, talent and dedication shown by our past recipients, and those nominated, are
what make sailing and racing on the river and the ocean the wonderful, rewarding activity it is today. They all embody the spirit of Walter Erben in that they go about their various contributions to sailing for no personal reward or gain but just to help others enjoy sailing. This years recipient has supported sailing in our area for ten years doing race committee for East Coast Sailing Association, Melbourne Yacht Club and Port Canaveral Yacht Club. This past year has seen him redouble his efforts to ensure we all get to do
what we love, go racing. He has run the races for the ECSA Winter, Spring and Summer Series, ECSA Women's Spring and Fall Series, ECSA River Challenge, PCYC Cinco de Mayo, Mermaid, Firecracker and Steak and Lobster Regattas, and been an integral part of all of the MYC regattas including the Mermaid and Spring and Fall events. Gerry Moores is truly deserving of the Walter Erben Award for 2006.

Among this years nominee's are past winners John McNeill, Sherry Beckett, Mike Nulf and Mike Chappell. Others nominated were Jack Leahy, Rachele Ross, Simon Koumjian, Hasty Miller, James Liebl and Sharon Tolson.  The sailing community thanks them for all their efforts as well.


2005 - Mike Chappell

Michael Chappell is the honoree for the Walter Erben Award in 2005.  Michael has been instrumental in keeping the ocean-racing program alive in Brevard county.  He has served countless terms as Fleet Captain at CBYC, as well as a few years as Commodore.  He was also a founding member of CBYC.  He has been member of several regular crews and is a pleasure to sail with.  More importantly, he is always calm and an excellent teacher; of sailing techniques and strategy, as well as how to run an RC boat. 

     He has been instrumental in securing boats for RC and running the races with little or no help and does this on a regular basis.  Since there are very few members at CBYC who are active racers it has often been a challenge to convince the club to invest time, effort and money in a racing program.  His interest, dedication and perseverance has been instrumental the continuation of ocean racing here in Brevard county. 

Michael has also been the PRO for the annual Calema Mid-Winter Windsurfing Regatta - which is one of the largest windsurfing events in the world.  He is single handedly responsible for organizing the RC for this event.  This typically entails convincing about 8 boat owners, and 20 accessory people to give up a weekend (and a work day).  Many members of the RC team are power boaters, who know do not sail or race at all.  Michael's personality and charisma convinced many people to help with the event that we now all look forward to and enjoy playing a role in. 

     Michael is one of many people that has been vital to the local racing community and is the recipient of the Walter Erben Award for his years of tireless service and dedication to our community.

     Others nominated for this year were Sherry Beckett, Gerry Moores, James Liebl, Dave Merchberger and Mike Nulf. The sailing community thanks them for all their efforts as well.


2004 - Mike Nulf                                                                                           
Mike Nulf is the recipient of the Walter Erben Award for 2004. As Fleet Captain
for the Indian River Yacht Club he has been a tireless supporter and organizer of sailing in the local area. Mike has been the focal point for IRYC weekend and Wednesday night series for a number of years. His enthusiasm and efforts have resulted in significant growth of IRYC membership over the last two years even though the club is currently between facilities.

Mike is a consistent supporter of all the local clubs with pre-race organization, race committee and post-race scoring and awards in addition to his representing IRYC on the PHRF Board. He has worked hard to make the local Melges 24 fleet one of the largest fleets in the country. Mike has planted the competitive seed in the local Melges 24 fleet and he continues to tend to it so that one day it may bear fruit in the form of national recognition for the skill and dedication of our local sailors.

Mike is not only an excellent organizer but is also one of the rarest commodities in any organization, a tireless worker. He is always there to offer a hand helping others rig a boat, fix a part, salvage a disaster, move a mark, deliver a boat, start a race, compute the results, pick up a mess, or to sooth frayed tempers. Mike Nulf is an outstanding example of the attributes required to be awarded the Walter Erben Award.

2003 - John MacNeill
The 2003 Walter Erben Memorial Award was presented to John MacNeill at CBYC on Saturday, August 30. John was awarded the award for his ongoing efforts to promote sailing, and educate new sailors, both youth and adult, in the Space Coast area.

His sailing classes are offered to the local community, not only MYC members. His efforts have returned small boat sailing in a big way to our area through his running the Small Boat Sunday's racing at Melbourne Yacht Club.

His efforts have also led to the donation of small boats to MYC's growing fleet of sailboats and the revival of the local Sunfish fleet in our area. The revival of this fleet led to a World's qualifying event at MYC.

John truly embodies the dedication and ethic of Walter Erben.

Other Nominees for the 2003 Award were Rachele Ross, Mike Nulf, Gerry Moores, Sherry Beckett and Chris Gates. The sailing community thanks them all for their efforts as well!

2002 - Bob Sowden

Congratulations to Bob Sowden, awarded this year's Walter Erben Memorial Award at the MYC Fall Regatta.
"Bob Sowden has been a tireless supporter of racing in the area over the years. In the past he has done many things, in official positions like MYC Fleet Captain, and ECSA River Race Chairman, as well as unofficial positions like the Race Committee Chairman and primary cheering section for the Women's Racing for years and years.  Bob has also given seminars on both rules and tactics to racers. He served as MYC's representative to the Ratings Committee for many years.  Bob loves to sail and spreads his love of sailing to others in many ways."

"Specific to this year, Bob has again been the mainstay of the Race Committee for the ECSA Women's Series.  Without Bob's support as an advisor and an always-there-when- you-need-him Race Committee, the Women's program would not be flourishing as it is.  Bob is also quietly supporting racing statewide by being an officer for several years in the unsung Florida Sailing Association--this year he is serving as Rear Commodore, and next year he will be Commodore."

2001 - Sherry Beckett - Awarded for untiring efforts to add life to the South Brevard racing fleet, in the form of the weekly ‘Racing News’ emails, website, as Women’s Racing Chairman, as MYC Fleet Captain, and other related endeavors.

Other nominees for the 2001 award were Karen Knockel, Bob Sowden, Roni Duys, Mike Chappel, and Dr. Tom Beals from Titusville. All deserve a large thanks for their ongoing efforts as well.



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                         Last modified on 08/05/2014