ISAF President Göran Petersson presented the trophy, which was first awarded in 1988 in memory of Beppe Croce, the ISAF President from 1969-1986, to Schoomaker at the 2011 ISAF Annual Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Petersson said, “Ding’s contribution and generosity to the sport is exceptional and equally matched by his active participation and success. Not content with excelling on the water, Ding has invested just as much time and passion in serving the sport on shore. Since 1968, Ding has been an active member of the International Yacht Racing Union and now of course ISAF. During his long and distinguished career with us, Ding has brought his wealth of experience and knowledge to so many aspects of the sport.”
On receiving the award Schoonmaker said, “It has been a great pleasure to have the opportunity to participate as a competitor as well as an official in Olympic events. It is a great privilege to be honoured for serving the sport that I love.”
Schoonmaker’s involvement in sailing goes back to 1944 where he first sailed an Old Town 13 foot sloop at Watch Hill, Rhode Island. After his first experience Schoonmaker was hooked and in 1949 he became involved in the Star class after Olympian Jack Price (USA) asked him to crew for him.
In 1952 Schoonmaker took to the helm and finished second at the American Star trials to become reserve helmsman for the Olympic Yachting Team for the 1952 Olympic Sailing Competition in Helsinki, Finland. Schoonmaker was also reserve helmsman for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
But the highlight for the American came in 1975 when he and Jerry Ford captured the Star World Championship in Chicago, USA. In a 73-boat fleet Schoonmaker beat the reigning champion Tom Blackaller. His on the water achievements also include gold medals from the Star North American Championship, European Championships, South American Championships, Western Hemisphere Championships and Bacardi Cups.
Off the water Schoonmaker’s record of service to ISAF dates back to 1968 when he became a member of the Keelboat Committee, before moving on to the Centreboard Boat Committee in 1972 and Permanent Committee in 1978. Schoonmaker became an ISAF Vice President in 1986 and held his position until 1994, a position he regained in 1998 and held until 2004 following four years as the Sailing Committee Vice Chairman.
Along with the work Schoonmaker has done for ISAF he has also financially supported sailing for many years. He helped to set up and was instrumental in the construction of the US Sailing Center in Miami, has given generously to US Sailing over the course of two decades, and in 1990 established a $150, 000 endowment. He also gave Ivan Riano, a teenage refugee from Cuba, a Laser sailboat when he heard about Riano’s sailing aspirations.
Through his generosity and unrivalled commitment to sailing Schoonmaker, alongside other ISAF members, formed the World Youth Sailing Trust 20 years ago. The Trust has since gone on to support sailors from less experienced sailing nations and provided them with coaching at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships.
Schoonmaker now resides in Naples, Florida with his wife Treecie where the pair continue to support sailing in the local community.