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29 January 2004, 11:00 am
Paul Henderson Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
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Paul HENDERSON receivesLifetime Achievement Awardfrom David SPRAGUE

Paul Henderson

On Sunday 18 January, ISAF President Paul HENDERSON was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ontario Sailing Association.
There follows the presentation speech made by David SPRAGUE, President of the Canadian Yachting Association.

" Let me set the stage. Pan Am Games Trial for Snipe Class Humber Bay Toronto about 1986. I was helping Larry MacDonald Sr. run the trials. The winds were 20-25 mph and gusty. Cold wind, chilly, late September. Boats dumping, masts breaking, power boats having trouble going up wind, with marks blowing loose. Terrible time getting races off in timely manner

We were getting soaked on the committee boats so you know what it was like in a small dinghy. Delay, delay. Race Committee struggling and doing the best job possible but still not what the sailors expected nor deserved. Wind made it hard to hear even when the other crew shouted. All of a sudden, almost as clear as day I heard very clearly some one commenting about the parentage of the race committee and giving constructive criticism about the slow pace of the racing.

Lo and behold about 25 metres away was some guy in a Snipe suggesting to get racing going. He was sailing with his young daughter, maybe 15 years old? He was over 50. Trying to qualify for the Pan Am Games. His poor daughter was freezing because it was so cold. (I think she had her hands over her ears trying to keep them warm or something). Needless to say as a normal Race Committee we tried to ignore him.

That was my first conversation with Paul Henderson.

But he was right we were not doing a great job. Enough of that though, let me tell you about him.

Paul's passion for the sport of sailing developed early. Born in Toronto, he spent his summers on Toronto Island around boats and sailing. The sailing community at that time had many accomplished sailors and young Paul used his time well, learning the basics of the sport, as well as the values and importance of sport.

He grew to become a very active competitor in sailing, winning medals at World, North American and various National Championships. He has the remarkable record of having competed in all the Canadian Olympic Sailing Trials from 1948 to 1984.

Paul has represented Canada at three Olympic Games; the first two as an athlete when he competed in Tokyo, sailing the Flying Dutchman and in Mexico City where he sailed the Finn. He was also the Canadian Olympic Coach in Munich in 1972.

Sailing Championships

Gold Medals
12 Canadian Championships including:
- 14 Foot Dinghy - 1959
- Flying Dutchman - 1964, 1966, 1970
- Finn Dinghy - 1967
- Star 1979, 1980
- Soling - 1975

5 United States titles including:
- 14 Foot Dinghy - 1957, 1959
- 470 1970
- Flying Dutchman 1970
- Finn - 1967

3 North Americans:
- Flying Dutchman - 1963
- Fireball 1970
- Finn - 1966

- 14 Ft Dinghy 1959

Silver Medal
Worlds: Flying Dutchman, Germany - 1962

Other Major Events
Bermuda 1958 - Princess Elizabeth Trophy
Holland 1962 - Prince Bernhard Trophy - Flying Dutchman

Reaching out to help support others also began early, particularly helping young people. Paul helped found the Water Rat Sailing Club 1970 and the Outer Harbour Sailing Community, which now houses over five boat clubs; the Mooredale Sailing Club, the Outer Harbour Sailing and Catamaran Club, the St. Jamestown Sailing Club and the Hanlan Boat Club.

Another significant accomplishment was being a member of the founding group that set up CORK (Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston), which has benefited the City of Kingston for over 30 years and continues to provide a great sailing venue for Olympic and other classes and people of all ages. We have all sailed there and that privilege has been in part due to Paul.

Paul Henderson is well known to the Province of Ontario, having dedicated five years as a volunteer in his leadership of the Toronto Olympic Bid, to host the 1996 Olympic Games.

The 1996 bid ensured that all communities in the Golden Horseshoe benefited from the Games. He spent countless hours travelling from Kingston to Niagara talking to community leaders what would benefit from the legacy of The Olympic Games'. His enthusiasm and his caring excited everyone. The 1996 Olympic bid is still held in the highest regard and is frequently looked at by other bid cities as a fine example of how to conduct their bid process.

Paul was also consulted to the 2008 Olympic bid and to the 2010 Bid in Vancouver.

Undoubtedly, Paul Henderson is best known for his international work in sailing.

Paul was first sent by Canada to ISAF, formerly the International Yacht Racing Union, in 1970 as an expert to advise on the sailing venue for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. His skill and knowledge were apparent and he came to serve as ISAF Vice-President for 16 years during which time he was specifically responsible for the Olympic Games, Regional Games and the Pacific Rim countries being the technical consultant for sailing venues.

Paul was elected President of the ISAF in 1994; the first non-European to ever hold this position.

During his 30 yrs with the International Sailing Federation, Paul has hosted the Executive Board Meetings of the ISAF in Toronto, the Mid Year Meeting of the ISAF as well as the Annual Meeting in Toronto in 1992.

This was the first time that this international conference was held outside of Europe and is the model that is now used by other hosting nations.

He has been elected to the Executive Boards of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF) of which he is now a Vice-President.

He sits on the IOC Sports and Environmental Commission and Women and Sport Commission in recognition of taking Sailing during his Presidency from 18% women athletes in Atlanta 1996 to a guaranteed 35% in Athens 2004.

Paul is well known for his passion to find good solutions. He seeks information and is not afraid to try new avenues. He has on many occasions held impromptu meetings with athletes to get their feedback and to gain understanding of what issues are most important for the athletes.

His wide knowledge, developed though all his activities, enables him to relate to the issues in a remarkable way and his passion has ensured that even unpopular issues have been addressed and brought forward for solutions.

Let me recap a bit about his activities:

Paul has an Engineering Degree from the University of Toronto and a Master Plumber Licence

ISAF Volunteer Positions
1978 - 1994 - Vice President
1994 - Current President

IOC Appointments
Member of IOC - 2000 -2004
Executive Member - Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations
Member IOC Sport and the Environment Commission
Member IOC World Anti-Doping Agency
Member IOC Women and Sport Committee

Other Volunteer Positions
President Toronto 1996 Olympic Bid Committee
President Toronto Racquets Club 1972 to 1975
Board Member Crescent School 1980 -1983

Other Honours
Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame - Builder Category 2001
Ontario Sports Award - 2001
Rolex Sailor of the Year - Canada 1994
Councillor of Honour - Canadian Yachting Association
Honorary Commodore, Royal Canadian Yacht Club
MAFSI Foodservice Hall of Honour - 2002
Honourary Member St James Town Sailing Club, Mimico Cruising Club

Oh yes in his spare time he very successfully ran RG Henderson and Son, a well known Restaurant maintenance and repair company.

While researching I noticed Paul that you have not been President of Ontario
nor President of Canadian Yachting Assoc. I thought about it and I figured it out why.

Because Paul is one of those people who can and do contribute well beyond our local venue. He walks on the GLOBAL stage and does Ontario and Canada proud.

I have to mention Mary his wife. She epitomizes grace wit and PATIENCE. She rarely speaks in public and she is always in the background helping Paul. She deserves an award too.

On a personal note I have been involved at the ISAF level over the past Quadrennial and for a few years in the mid 80's and I have been boggled at the extent of Paul's work on behalf of Canada and the sailors of the world.

Paul is a man who believes everyone should have the opportunity to have fun in boats and everything he has done over the years has been to help us all achieve that goal. For some it has been an Olympic dream for some just the chance to sail in boats unhindered on a lake. He has supported us all at where ever he has represented us.

He has an open door policy. You write him an email and he responds.
You ask for advice and he gives it (you do not always even have to ask)
He has given years of his life freely and on a volunteer basis, he has paid his own way and contributed 10's if not 100's of thousand of dollars to make sailing a better sport for us all

At the beginning of this talk I mentioned my first "conversation" with Paul. Looking back on it part of the reason we did not yell back at him was he was right and we knew it. This has been a theme for Paul, he is usually right and not afraid to challenge people.

This is a man who is known and respected throughout the sailing world. He is passionate about all his pursuits and over the years they have been numerous. We all owe Paul a tremendous debt of Gratitude. I hope Paul you understand our thanks for all your work.

On behalf of the Ontario Sailing Association and on behalf of SAILORS EVERYWHERE I would like to present you with this Lifetime Achievement Award."

David Sprague
President Canadian Yachting Association
David Sprague
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