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MIT sailing master and coach Fran Charles received the prestigious Graham Hall Award for outstanding service by a college sailing professional this past week at the 2008 Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association/Gill National Championship. As the recipient of this coveted honor, Charles was inducted into the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame.

According to the ICSA Web site, the award description is as follows: “Recognizing organizers, administrators, advisors, or coaches who have served the best interests of college sailing at the club/team, conference, or national level; one or two honorees per year.”

As coach and sailing master for the Engineers’ perennially-ranked intercollegiate program since 1991, Charles has coached at the highest levels of competition. He is also an extremely skilled principal race officer and an impartial judge and umpire at the national and international levels. He imparts knowledge to everyone and has influenced many generations of sailors to play by the rules, respect the competition, and think outside the box.

During Charles’ tenure as coach, MIT sailors have twice won the Hobbs Trophy for ICSA Sportsman of the Year and have earned seven All-America honors. He has successfully run numerous Atlantic Coast, New England, National Dinghy, and Team Race title events, as well as dozens of high-quality races for all skill levels.

Serving as the fourth sailing master in the history of the Institute, Charles is responsible for coordinating the most extensive collegiate recreational sailing program in the country. MIT’s sailing pavilion teaches more than 1,400 people annually how to sail. Not only is MIT proud to be the host of more collegiate regattas than any other school in the country, under Charles’ leadership the Institute also hosts countless events for the local community.

A frequent umpire at the National Team Race Championship Hinman Trophy as well as College Nationals and the International Sailing Federation World Championships, Charles was the recipient of the U.S. Sailing Gay Lynn Award for most devoted service to the sport of team racing. In April he was designated U.S. Sailing’s “Sailor of the Week.”