Robert L. Johnstone, lll has been named the 2023 recipient of the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy, US Sailing’s most prestigious annual award, going to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of sailing in this country in any associated activity. Presentation of the Trophy is planned during the 2024 US Youth Championship in Bristol, RI June 22-25. The recipient is selected by the Board of Directors from nominations made by US Sailing members. Bob Johnstone’s legacy in sailing is extensive. Along with his yacht designer brother Rod, he co-founded J Boats Inc., one of sailing’s leading performance brands, with five World Sailing International Classes and thousands of boats being sailed at all levels of the sport from grassroots to World Championships. After starting fleets of Solings and 470’s in Wilmette IL, he revived Sunfish sales with AMF Alcort, then used marketing skills, honed at The Quaker Oats Company, to create the J/24 phenomenon, the first of 21 J/Boat designs to be awarded Boat-of-the Year or win Sailboat Hall of Fame honors. Fifteen thousand J Boats of all sizes have been built, including about 5,700 J/24s. J/Boats and MJM Yachts stories are documented in Bob’s new book, Maverick Marketer. Besides a legacy in the boat design and marketing world, Johnstone has a longstanding connection with US Sailing, having been a member of US Sailing’s Board of Directors, and chaired both the One-Design Class and Industry Councils. In 1973, Johnstone founded US Sailing’s US Youth Championship, establishing the pinnacle event in American youth sailing that continues to thrive today. After frustration with a lack of pathway for youth sailors in the 1970s, leading to poor performance at the Youth Worlds, Johnstone lobbied the NAYRU (now US Sailing) to create a single US qualifying regatta for the Youth Worlds in Lasers and 470’s, which became the US Youth Sailing Championship. The 50th anniversary of the event, held in 2023, saw 250+ competitors across nearly every Youth Worlds discipline from ILCAs to Nacra 15s and iQFOiLs. “Bob’s vision and commitment to the sport is one of a kind,” noted nominator John Pearce. “When the alumni of the first Youth Champs reunited at the 50th Anniversary regatta last summer, it became clear to me the huge impact that Bob has had on American sailing. We received letters from so many notable sailors telling stories and praising Bob’s vision for the US Youth Championship. And it goes without saying that the J/Boat brand is iconic in our sport. It’s great to see him being honored with US Sailing’s most prestigious award.” Bob is a graduate of the Loomis School and Princeton University, where he now serves as the Senior Alumni Advisor to the sailing team. In 2016, he was honored with the Mystic Seaport’s America and the Sea Award and inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame. He and his wife, the Reverend Mary Johnstone, reside in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a member of Carolina, Charleston and New York Yacht Clubs and the Northeast Harbor Fleet, where he has been Commodore. His current focus is racing in a fleet of radio-controlled DF95 sailboats twice weekly on the local Bishop Gadsden Pond while pursuing his latest vision: creating a pilot middle-school RC sailing education program, based on US Sailing’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Reach Program, as a model for a national rollout to any community with a 150’ x 250’ pond.

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