Congratulations Justin!

I am happy to report that our very own Class Governor and former President, Justin Scott has won the prestigious US Sailing One-Design Leadership Award. This award is presented in recognition of individual initiative, enthusiasm, organizing ability and leadership in creating the outstanding fleet building program. All of us in the Viper Class know well how Justin has brought us from oblivion to success, from a dead class as a result of a bankrupt builder to vibrant, growing example that a grassroots class can thrive in today’s world. It’s recognition that Justin deserves for all of the hard work he has put in over the past years.

Here’s the US Sailing announcement:

BAY HEAD, N.J. (November 15, 2011) – Last Saturday night at US Sailing’s 2011 One-Design Sailing Symposium, presented by Gowrie Group and hosted by the Bay Head Yacht Club, five awards were presented to recognize outstanding individual and organizational achievements in one-design sailing. These annual award categories are for Service, Leadership, Club, Regatta, and Creativity. These awards highlight role models of creative leadership in one-design sailing.

Justin Scott – US Sailing’s Leadership Award
Justin Scott of the Viper 640 Class won the 2011 Leadership award which recognizes individual initiative, enthusiasm, organizing ability and leadership in creating an outstanding one-design fleet building program.

Scott had served as Founding Class President of the Viper 640 Association for eight years until last March. He took on this role when the class was being reformed in January of 2003. Justin’s leadership revitalized the class and provided a new foundation. Eight years later, the Viper 640 class is among the fastest growing three-person sport classes in North America, with hundreds of teams participating locally and nationally. In 2011, the Viper fleet has grown by 45 boats, and increased by nearly a third.

The great strides the class has made can be attributed to Scott’s enthusiastic and determined leadership. “Quite simply, the Viper 640 Class would not exist today without the vision and leadership of Justin Scott,” says Dan Tucker, Marblehead Viper Fleet Captain. [sic]

The nomination we submitted is below the break-

The Viper 640 Class would like to nominate Justin Scott for the US Sailing One-Design Leadership Award.

In March 2011, Justin stepped down as Founding Class President of the Viper 640 Class Association after 8 years in the role. When the Viper 640 Class Association was reformed in January 2003, it consisted of 6 owners. The previous Class Association had foundered. The builder had gone bankrupt. The molds were missing. There had not been a North American Championships for at least three years and the whereabouts of the other remaining forty or so boats were unknown. The six owners elected Justin as first class president of a new Class Association. It is a story of Phoenix rising.

Eight years later, the Viper 640 class is the fastest growing three person sport boat class in North America with close to two hundred teams actively competing on a local and national level.  In 2011 the Viper fleet has grown by 45 boats, a nearly 1/3 increase. We have a class appointed builder supervised by a class technical committee that has produced well over a hundred new boats to date. The class registry has tracked down virtually every boat that was ever built. The Class has several vibrant regional racing circuits on the East coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast with strong and growing local fleets around the country. Our North American championships are truly nationwide. The last three North American Championships were held in Stamford CT (2009), Miami FL (2010) and Sarnia Canada (2011) and the next three North American Championships will be held in Marblehead MA (2012) Houston TX (2013), and Long Beach CA (2014). Participation in Viper racing circuits has grown every year and in 2011, we had a record of 63 boats participate in the Pan American Viper Championship circuit which spanned Miami, Long Beach, Newport RI and Sarnia Ontario.

The renaissance of the Viper was a team effort. Every successful team needs a strong leader. For eight years that team was coordinated, inspired and led by Justin Scott.  What defined the team was more than simply a particular boat. We stated at the outset our mission to “promote a Fast, Easy, Fun and Affordable One design sport boat to the North American sailing community”.  Our modest goal was, and remains, to make a difference in revitalizing the one design keel boat sailing scene. We felt that a grass roots volunteer organization might be prepared to go places that a more commercially driven organization might not be ready to dare. We wanted to get some of the missing generation back into racing sailboats. We wanted to make it fun. We wanted to make high performance sailing easy and accessible. We wanted to make it affordable.

At its heart, the Viper class was relaunched on the precept of a modern equivalent of a traditional class that was controlled and run by sailors and would grow through a modern interpretation of “word of mouth” from one sailor to another, keeping costs down and value for money up. Justin called it “Back to the future” using iconic classes such as the Lightening class as our inspiration and the internet as our modern word of mouth.

It was not all smooth sailing. There were many bumps along the road.

There were months of detective work tracing original boats. There was the matter of finding the molds and appointing a class builder.  The original design was a good starting platform but it did not really meet the criteria of “Easy” nor did it meet the international self righting standard. Working closely with class appointed builder Rondar Raceboats, the Viper was re-engineered with a carbon rig, a modern keel, innovative safety lines,  and a simpler layout. Each modification was carefully thought through by the technical committee to ensure that any change that affected performance could be retrofitted to the existing fleet to maintain a strict one –design standard. Justin was involved in every step along the way and we had a motivated team.

The newly built Viper was re-launched at the 2007 Annapolis Boat Show at an exhibit that was entirely manned by volunteers from the Class Organization. Of course, Justin was there.

The following year 12 Vipers were at Charleston Race Week, where Justin’s regatta team had organized a one-design start. By 2009 there were 32 Vipers at Charleston Race Week including many new boats. The following year we persuaded the Bacardi organization to include the Viper in Bacardi Sailing Week alongside the Star class. The sponsorship team with Justin, raised sponsorship from EFG Bank to support the Viper Class and the Bacardi Week and the EFG Pan American Championship was born.

Justin has done countless volunteer demos, driven thousands of miles to support regattas, made thousands of phone calls, dialing for sponsor dollars or regatta attendance. Justin drafted our constitution and our early class rules and writes articles and content for our website. All of these count. But perhaps his greatest contribution was putting together a great team motivated by a good dream. It is a team that we have all been proud to be a part of and are inspired to carry on. Quite simply, the Viper 640 Class would not exist today without the vision and leadership of Justin Scott.

2011 was a banner year for the Viper Class in many ways. We celebrated incorporation as a not-for-profit. We held our first North Americans on the Great Lakes and outside of the USA. Vipers attended a record number of regattas with one design starts and we had another successive year of growth in participation in the circuit. We also saw the retirement of Justin as president and into the role of class governor. We know that he is going to give some of his new found time going forward to the wider cause of sailing at US Sailing. It seems to us that 2011 is the appropriate year to recognize him as the outstanding class leader of the year.