During the New England School Sailing Association (NESSA) Team Racing Championship in May 2002, Henry Maxwell demonstrated exceptional character and dedication to the success of the sport of sailing. Maxwell sailed with his team from the Williams School, at that time the defending champions of the event. The Williams School was in a very close race against Tabor Academy. The race would determine which New England team qualified for the Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) Team Racing Nationals. Although the Williams School won the race on the water, the judges lodged a protest against Maxwell, who had entered another protest himself. After Maxwell realised he had indeed committed a foul and that his own protest was inappropriate, he retracted his protest and withdrew from the race. As a result of this decision, the Williams School lost the race, sending Tabor Academy to the Nationals.
"He is a true role model," said US SAILING president Dave Rosekrans. "He is an American sailor who best exemplifies the ideals and traditions of good sportsmanship."
Maxwell has received several awards for this act of sportsmanship. He received the NESSA Leslie Trophy for Sportsmanship, as well as ISSA's Bullivant Trophy, which has only been awarded 13 times since its inception in 1964.
"Henry's actions reflect credit on his coach and on his teammates who supported his decision," said ISSA president Larry White, who nominated Maxwell for US SAILING's trophy. "He acted in the best traditions of school sailing."
Sportsmanship is difficult to define but easily recognisable. The high standards exemplified by the true sportsperson are vital to the health of sailing, which is why each year US SAILING honors nominees for the prestigious W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Trophy.
This award honours those people who are outstanding examples of dedication and graciousness in the sport of sailing, and for sharing these talents with others. Nominees include sailors who have performed a single exemplary act or who have consistently exemplified the finest tradition of the sport both on and off the water, through instruction and encouragement of others.