2017 Commodore Jim Kiriakis awards Nicole Breault the StFYC Yachtsman of the Year
At the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the membership of the St. Francis Yacht Club (StFYC), Nicole Breault received the Club’s highest honor: the Jerome B. White Yachtsman of the Year. This perpetual trophy is awarded each year to “the member who has made the greatest contribution to the sport of yachting during the preceding year.”
StFYC’s Executive Race Committee Chair Elizabeth Weiler said, “We read the definition of this trophy and interpreted it literally. Of course Nicole is a sailing woman, but there is no question that she is the member who singularly made the greatest contribution to the sport.”
At the Awards Ceremony, an emotional Breault received a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd and accepted the award while grinning from ear to ear and holding back tears. “I’m trying to smile, but I’m crying because I cannot believe this! This is an incredible honor. There’s no question there are more men sailing and racing than there are women, but maybe this year is really the year of the woman!” Later in the evening, the St. Francis also welcomed in Theresa Brandner, its first female Commodore.
Nicole continued, “I’ve been racing all my life and I’ve only ever wanted to be among the best of the best and earn their respect by winning on the water. I’ve had to face the fact that when I race against the guys, it’s not always easy. But I’ve always put my best out on the water and I try to not make it about gender…I can’t thank you enough—the yacht club, all of those I’ve done battle with out on the water and those who I hope to do battle with in the future.”
Over the past year, Breault’s contributions to the sport of yachting ran the gamut from competitor to coach to volunteer. As a competitor, she executed a successful bicoastal J/105 campaign alternating between the roles of skipper and main trimmer/tactician while continuing her strong performance in team and match racing. In 2017, she won ten major regattas:
- St. Francis Yacht Club Spring One Design
- SF Challenge Cup (skipper)
- St. Francis Yacht Club J/Fest
- San Francisco Yacht Club Resin Regatta
- Cedar Point Yacht Club One Design Regatta
- Storm Trysail Block Island Race Week
- Hinman Masters Team Race (skipper)
- Buzzards Bay Regatta (skipper)
- Storm Trysail Ted Hood Regatta (skipper)
- American Yacht Club Fall Series (skipper)
She has also served as an invaluable role model for women sailors, creating opportunities to help women improve their skills and gain confidence on board. At StFYC, she created and coached the immensely successful (and over-subscribed) Women’s Learn-to-Sail course and SF Bay Women’s Match Race Clinegatta and created a template for future such programs.
Finally, she gives back to the sport as the national grading secretary for US Match Racing, a time-consuming job that assures competitors earn ranking points for their results. She is also an active participant on the US Match Racing Committee, focusing her efforts on grass-roots and women’s development.