Sail Newport Program Director Kim Hapgood of Newport has been named the 2018 Boater of the Year by the RI Marine Trades Association (RIMTA). The award announcement was made at RIMTA’s Industry Breakfast on February 2, the opening morning of the Providence Boat Show.

The John H. Chafee Boater of the Year Award is an annual accolade that recognizes an individual who has contributed to the success of the recreational boating industry in Rhode Island or championed the cause of bringing recreational boating to the public.

“Our sport and our industry can only thrive if people develop a passion for being on the water—and Kim Hapgood’s career has been all about making that happen,” said Susan Daly of RIMTA, who made the award presentation. “At Sail Newport, Kim has helped people of all ages gain access to the water and the necessary skills that turn boating into their activity of choice.”

Kim Hapgood has worked for some three decades at a grassroots level to grow the sport. She joined Sail Newport in 1996 and has been part of the team that has developed this Rhode Island facility into one of the world’s premier public sailing centers.

As director of youth and adult sailing-education programs at Sail Newport, she trains and manages a team of sailing instructors, develops course curriculum, and has played a central role in creating a groundbreaking, experiential-educational program where all fourth-graders in Newport public schools will learn to sail.

Hapgood is one of only six certified US Sailing Master Trainers in the country; as an expert at teaching instructors to motivate students, she is frequently sought after to run workshops at national sailing symposiums. She has also been a member of the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association Junior Sailing Committee for decades–ensuring instructors on the Bay are certified and spending her own time planning training and youth-regatta schedules.

“Access to the water is a challenge in many places that have a waterfront,” says Hapgood. “Working with the state, Sail Newport has been able to preserve that access for the public.” But Hapgood knows that access is just the starting point–and helping people to become boaters is an exacting formula.

“It is not only providing access to boats and instruction: you need to make sure that person’s first experience on the water is a good experience,” she says. From there, boating needs to be affordable, and facilities need to offer boats that people find interesting to sail and a schedule of classes and opportunities that fit their customers’ busy lives.

Hapgood was out of state presenting at a national sailing symposium during the award ceremony, and Sail Newport Executive Director Brad Read accepted the award in her absence.

“I cannot think of a more deserving candidate and recipient from our sailing community. She is a great team member at Sail Newport and recognized nationally as a leader in instructor training and community sailing programs. Sail Newport would not be what it is today without the leadership of Kim Hapgood and her tireless dedication to public access to sailing,” said Read.

Born in Chicago, Hapgood grew up sailing in England and has a diverse boating resume—from having been part of a women’s match-race team that was ranked in the top ten in the World Sailing rankings, to offshore boat deliveries, cruising with friends, racing a Shields on summer nights in Newport, and even a stint as a seasonal harbormaster.

As this year’s Boater of the Year, Kim Hapgood now joins a roster of accomplished Rhode Islanders who have all used their unique talents to impact boating and its industry in a positive way—among them, the late Ted Hood, Sr., Halsey Herreshoff, Ken Read, Janet Coit, and Rome Kirby.

As the leader of Sail Newport’s programs, Hapgood has also been distinguished with other national awards–including the 2007 Prosser Award for Best Sailing Program in the Nation and the 2005 Marty A. Luray Award for Excellence in Community Boating.

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