Since 2008, the New York Yacht Club has annually presented the Mosbacher Trophy to the Club’s sailor of the year. The award, which is named for former Commodore and two-time America’s Cup champion Emil “Bus” Mosbacher, is the most coveted of the Club’s annual trophies and traditionally the last award at the Club’s Annual Awards ceremony in the Model Room at 44th Street. Due to social distancing restrictions in New York City, the 2020 Annual Awards ceremony was held virtually last week.
This year’s winner of the Mosbacher Trophy is 49erFX sailor Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.). While the COVID-19 pandemic canceled a large portion of the Olympic-class sailing schedule—and postponed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by a year—Roble and sailing partner Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) were still able to achieve significant success in the women’s skiff class.
“I am extremely proud to award the 2020 Mosbacher Trophy to Stephanie Roble,” says William P. Ketcham, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. “Since graduating from Old Dominion University nearly a decade ago, Stephanie has thrown herself into elite sailing, succeeding in keelboats, match racing and now the 49erFX Olympic class. Stephanie and Maggie made the most of their limited opportunities to compete in 2020, and we look forward to following them on the road to an Olympic medal this summer. Stephanie is the youngest person and the first woman to win the Mosbacher.”
Roble and Shea started 2020 by winning the bronze medal in the 2020 49erFX World Championship in Geelong, Australia. It was first American medal in a 49erFX world championship. That result also secured, by the narrowest of margins, Roble and Shea’s selection as the American representative in the class for the Tokyo Games.
Heading into the 2020 Worlds, which was the second of two international regattas used to select the American representative in the 49erFX class, Roble and Shea needed to finish four spots ahead of fellow Americans Paris Henken and Anna Tobias. The regatta hinged on the final medal race, which Roble and Shea won to move into third in the overall standings. Henken and Tobias finished seventh in the medal race and seventh in the regatta. With the two teams tied on points for the Olympic berth, the tiebreaker went to whomever finished higher in the final regatta, awarding the berth to Roble and Shea.
The duo’s other result this year was a second at Kiel Week in Germany, which was postponed to September. A second place in that regatta confirmed Roble and Shea’s status as a serious podium contender for the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled for this coming summer.
“This is an incredible honor,” says Roble, who joined the New York Yacht Club in 2015. “It’s been quite the year, and we’re really excited about the results that we’ve had. It’s an absolute honor to represent the New York Yacht Club around the world. To be the first female to win this award is extra special.
“This award is a reflection of my team’s commitment and dedication to our goal of bringing home a Gold medal for Team USA. I would like to thank my teammate Maggie Shea and coach Giulia Conti for all of their hard work on and off the water.
“It’s exciting to think about the Olympics, about our dream of winning a medal, but we have to focus on how we can get better every day and hope that will be good enough for a medal come August.”
Previous Mosbacher Trophy winners include world champion one-design skippers Jim Richardson, Stephen Benjamin and Peter Duncan, three-time Olympic 470 skipper Stuart McNay, Paralympic skipper Paul Callahan and brothers David and Peter Askew, who shared the award in 2019 after a remarkable string of wins in major offshore races.