Boat of the Year Awards Ceremony

Rhode Island dignitaries and marine industry representatives gathered on Friday February 22 at CCF Composites for the presentation of the Boat of the Year awards.
J/70 Boat of the Year
On Friday, February 22, three Rhode Island marine companies have earned national distinction as winners of the Sailing World  Boat of the Year Awards. Governor Lincoln Chafee, Senator Jack Reed and civic and marine-industry leaders gathered in Bristol to recognize the award-winning companies J/Boats (Newport, R.I.), CCF Composites (Bristol, R.I.), and Bluenose Yacht Sales (Newport, R.I./Portland, Maine). Eleanor Lawson
Boat of the year presentation at CCF Composites Bristol RI
The annual Boat of the Year awards are much-anticipated by the marine industry and consumers. An independent panel of experts puts new designs launched the previous year through rigorous inspection and sea trials before announcing an authoritative pick of overall and category winners. The J/70 from J/Boats and builder CCF Composites captured overall honors; the Sparkman & Stephens 30 from Bluenose Yacht Sales and CCF Composites won the best daysailer category. Eleanor Lawson
With 400 miles of coastline and its compact size, Rhode Island is a magnet for marine businesses. Traditional and modern boat builders, sailmakers, hardware and component manufacturers, riggers, marinas and other services together form a manufacturing continuum that has created a significant center of expertise. Eleanor Lawson
Governor Chafee recognizes J Boats and Bluenose Yacht Sales
“If you look at a map of our state, it’s not hard to understand why the marine trades have always been one of Rhode Island’s premier economic assets. They are among our state’s oldest and proudest industries, and this legacy continues to the present day with outstanding companies such as J/Boats, CCF Composites, and Bluenose Yacht Sales. I offer my congratulations and my thanks for helping to maintain Rhode Island’s reputation for excellence in the marine industries,” said Governor Chafee, a proud owner of a J/100. Eleanor Lawson
Joe DaPonte and Peter Van Lancker
Peter Van Lancker (right), president of Hunt Marine Group and pictured here with CCF Composites owner Joe DaPonte (left), moved his business to Rhode Island in 2006. During the tough economic climate of 2008-2010, when many manufacturers were experiencing a downturn, Hunt was able to expand into new market niches. Being headquartered on Rhode Island’s waterfront was key to the company’s ability to grow and expand. Van Lancker spoke on behalf of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA).“Rhode Island is unique because of its size. The industry is consolidated here, and the resources are so broad you can get all the components and expertise needed to build a boat within a small radius,” said Van Lancker. “But it is not only the location of these businesses. This expertise has been here for a long time….There is no substitute for that type of deep experience.” Eleanor Lawson
George Brengle of Sailing World
Sailing World director of marketing George Brengle introduces (L-R) CCF Composites owner Joe DaPonte, J/Boats president Jeff Johnstone, Rhode Island Marine Trades Association representative and Hunt Yachts president Peter Van Lancker, Governor Lincoln Chafee and Senator Jack Reed. Eleanor Lawson
RI Senator Jack Reed
Senator Jack Reed recognized the “Extraordinary craftsmanship and skill” demonstrated by the Boat of the Year Winners, adding, “Hollywood has the Oscars but we all know the most important awards are the Boat of the Year, celebrating the boatbuilders and designers at the forefront of the industry.” Eleanor Lawson
CCF Composites Crew
The hardworking crew at CCF Composites were recognized for the craftsmanship that goes into building a Boat of the Year winner. Eleanor Lawson
Brendan Abbot (left), chief naval architect at Sparkman & Stephens, John O’Connor, Bluenose Yacht Sales partner, and Glenn Walters, Bluenose Yacht Sales founder and managing parter accept the Best Daysailer award for the Sparkman & Stephens 30. On working with CCF Composties, Walters said, “They’re dedicated, true craftsmen, men of their word who work with integrity.” Eleanor Lawson
Sailing World editor Dave Reed presents the Boat of the Year overall winner award to J/Boats for the J/70. J/Boats president Jeff Johnstone noted, “We didn’t think building the J/70 would be possible in the U.S. because of labor rates and materials, but when when it came down to productivity and know-how, we realized we needed to stay here. It’s a bunch of small businesses that come together to make the magic. On the heels of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover announcement, this is a relaly exciting time for the Rhode Island boatbuilding industry.” Eleanor Lawson
CCF Composites, Bluenose Yacht Sales and J/Boats were also awarded citations from Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Cicilline and the Town of Bristol. As the Town of Bristol council chair Mary Parella noted, “For a Rhode Island company to continue manufacturing and growing in this economy is a true credit to these companies and this community.” Eleanor Lawson
Ken Read, J/Boats designer Al Johnstone, Jim Anderson of Harken and Sailing World editor Dave Reed Eleanor Lawson
Bristol Town Administrator Tony Teixeira congratulates CCF Composites owner Joe
Bristol Town Administrator Tony Teixeira congratulates CCF Composites owner Joe DaPonte. Eleanor Lawson
Peter Van Lancker of Hunt Yachts catches up with Michael Muessel of Newport’s Oldport Marine. Eleanor Lawson
Al and Rod Johnstone
Al Johnstone, designer of the J/70, and Rod Johnstone, founder of J/Boats, look on. Eleanor Lawson
Sailing World editor Dave Reed
Sailing World editor Dave Reed noted that “The sailing scene in Newport and throughout Rhode Island really is as legendary as we make it out to be. The J/70 is a boat that many people can sail and many people will sail, and that makes for great racing.” Eleanor Lawson
(L-R) Wendy Mackie of the RI Marine Trades Association, Peter Durant, Sail America Association Manager, Capt. Steven Sammis from SB Sammis Maritime Services, Fred Beiberbach, RIMTA Board Member and owner of Bravo Marine Associates, and Ruth Gobeille of the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service. Eleanor Lawson
Bristol Town Council members Edward Stuart, Jr. and Nathan Calouro
Bristol Town Council members Edward Stuart, Jr. and Nathan Calouro came to support the local businesses. Eleanor Lawson
Volvo Ocean Race sailor Ken Read, Director of Administration for the State of RI Richard Licht, and Vivian Spencer from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s office Eleanor Lawson
J/70 designer Al Johnstone and CCF Composites Engineering and Purchasing Manager Joe Pimenta Eleanor Lawson