The engraved rolex timepieces on Peter Duncan’s and Erika Reineke’s wrists follow an accomplished year in sailing. Among several notable victories that each had, the 2017 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year won the 161-boat Audi J/70 World Championship, while the Yachtswoman of the Year took home the gold in the Laser Radial at Enoshima Olympic Week.
“I just felt so lucky to be there at the Olympic venue for the first time,” says Reineke, a Fort Lauderdale native.
While pursuing her sailing dreams, Reineke earned her degree in environmental geosciences from Boston College. Now the US Sailing team member can focus on her sport full-time. Up next is the 2018 ISAF Sailing World Championships at Aarhus, Denmark, the first chance for sailors to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. The 24-year-old’s Olympic dream derives from her role model, Anna Tobias, who hosted a fundraiser at Reineke’s home yacht club before the 2008 Games.
“She won gold there in the Radial,” Reineke says, “and I knew at age 12 that I wanted to do what she had done.”
Duncan, who is 58 and from Rye, New York, says he has been sailing since he could walk, starting on his parents’ 210 at the American Yacht Club in Rye. Fast forward to 2017 when, apart from running a commercial real estate company in the Big Apple, he spent 110 days on the water.
The Winners’ Watches
“I’ve always been fairly driven with any of the stuff I do,” he says. His team’s win at the J/70 Worlds was one of five J/70 regatta victories last year. Duncan also raced in the Etchells, Melges 20 and Melges 24.
Taking the Trophy
“It’s you against the elements,” he says. “There are lots of things at different times that you have to deal with. That, to me, is exciting.”
His goal is to hopefully repeat what he calls a tremendous year. “We are plugging away in both classes again, getting ready for both world championships,” he says, meaning the J/70 and Etchells.
Receiving this honor from US Sailing and Rolex is a first for both winners. “When I found out we actually won, I was kind of beside myself that we were able to do this with the great people getting considered,” Duncan admits.
Reineke says she can relate: “Just to be nominated amongst some of the best women sailors in the country is an honor. To have earned the title is something I will never forget.”