State is set to honor sailing

Annapolis building may house museum


The sport of sailing includes billionaires, world leaders, CEOs. It has the cachet of being an Olympic sport, with corporate sponsorship and an expensive around-the-world race. But unlike football, baseball -- even bowling -- sailors don't have a hall of fame.

That might soon change. The Ehrlich administration is expected to announce a National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis in the next few weeks.

"We know it is going to be in Annapolis," said L.B. "Buck" Buchanan, president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame and Museum Inc., a nonprofit group formed last year to support efforts to establish a hall.

"Annapolis is such a big sailing town," said Gary Jobson, a former ESPN sailing commentator who lives in Annapolis and has been involved in the project. "I do get around the world and the country, and I see that every sport has its shrine, ... but there is nothing really for sailing."

Organizers hope the hall of fame will house video footage, artifacts and displays about sailing, Buchanan said. "We will tell the stories of people who have made history in the sailing world," he said.

Lee Tawney, who has consulted on the project, and Jobson said they'd been invited to a Dec. 21 event organized by the governor's office, but neither would discuss what would be announced.

"That is the governor's event; you've got to talk to them about it," said Tawney, who works for Ocean Race Chesapeake, an organization that wants to bring prestigious sailboat races to Maryland.

The hall of fame organizers expect to have a Web site up by Dec. 21, Tawney said.

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer also declined to comment on a hall of fame until the governor makes an announcement, according to a secretary in her office.

Shareese N. DeLeaver, a spokeswoman for the governor, referred questions about the hall of fame to the Department of Natural Resources.

Stephan Abel, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said: "The National Sailing Hall of Fame is looking at potential sites in the downtown Annapolis area including the DNR-owned property, but no decision has been made."

The property Abel referred to is a small building at the end of Prince George Street on City Dock.

From the outside, the DNR building looks like a house. The waterfront location makes it an attractive choice for a hall of fame, said Tawney. He stressed that other locations around Annapolis are being considered, but he declined to specify them.

Twenty-six Department of Natural Resources police officers work at the Prince George Street building, said Sgt. Randy Charron with the Natural Resources Police. Those officers patrol waters around Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, Charron said, adding that often there are only two or three people in the building at a given time.

If the building is chosen, it is not clear whether the DNR would completely turn it over to the National Sailing Hall of Fame or if the two groups would share space.

Annapolis officials added that use of the DNR building has been on the city's wish list.

"It is no secret that we've been trying to work with the state to have use of the DNR building," Annapolis Alderman Josh Cohen said.

Cohen was unaware of plans to completely or partially turn the building over the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

Tawney and Buchanan said they expect the hall of fame to be "up and running at least in a small way" by the time the Volvo Ocean Race yachts come to the city in April. That timing would work well because the idea of a hall of fame was hatched when the Volvo fleet stopped in the city in 2002, Jobson said.

"It will be an active place; it will not be a warehouse full of old things," Buchanan said.

He added that hall might include kiosks with information about famous sailors and displays of model boats. It might also include a simulator that would let visitors experience sailing without getting on the water.

There is an America's Cup Hall of Fame in the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, R.I., and an Intercollegiate Hall of Fame at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Organizers hope a sailing hall of fame would attract visitors to the city. "It would be an economic stimulus," Buchanan said.

The Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the country's oldest sports hall of fame, draws 350,000 visitors a year to Cooperstown, N.Y., said Jeff Idelson, a spokesman.

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