Eddie Evans had just walked out of the restroom at the Charleston Yacht Club on Sunday, when a wave of confusion hit him.
“Uh-oh,” Evans’ 89-year-old father, Ed, murmured when the two locked eyes from across the room.
Ed had been hiding out in the upstairs portion of the Charleston Yacht Club, there to surprise Eddie, the 2016 recipient of the club’s George McDougal Lockwood award. Every year at the conclusion of the annual Charleston Yacht Club Regatta, the announcement is an annual tradition.
The father worried that accidentally running into his son ahead of the presentation might ruin the surprise, alerting Eddie that he was about to receive the club’s most prestigious award.
“Something clicked,” Eddie said after the fact. “But I didn’t know what.”
The 61-year-old sailor didn’t make the connection until moments later, when Ken King, one of his closest sailing friends, started to present the award.
As soon as Eddie confidently discerned he was the winner, he looked to his girlfriend, Dawn Truog, and broke into tears.
“There was something going on that I was unaware of, I was the mushroom,” he said.
“But then when Ken started talking about passion for the ocean and sailing and kids, I knew.”
The Lockwood award, named after George Lockwood — one of the club’s first members — is given each year to the member of the club who best represents the spirit of sailing. To win, the recipient must have sailed in local, national and international competitions and must have impacted the sailing community on and off the water.
“Many of the people in this room would love to sail or like to sail, but this winner truly loves it,” King said in his presentation speech. “He’s unafraid of the ocean, day or night. He’s guided many crews back and forth across the Gulf Stream through wind, waves, lightning storms and calms.
“He brings people from every walk of life onto his boat and teaches them and tutors them on how to become good sailors.”
In his acceptance speech, the tears hit Eddie once more, as he told club members he never imagined he’d win the award. He sailed for the first time at 10 years old and was hooked, but didn’t start competing until after he graduated from Clemson.
The Women’s Award winner, the counterpart of the Lockwood award, was given to Margaux Bacro-Duverger, who was driving home from another regatta during the announcement. She pulled over and was FaceTimed in, laughing as photographers snapped pictures of her propped up on the trophy from the cell phone.
“There will always be a generation of sailors in Charleston that will proudly say they learned to sail from this coach,” said Jessica Koenig in her presentation of the award.
Koenig is the executive director of Charleston Community Sailing.
Becky Royal, the yacht club’s sailing chair, said each year the presentation of the Women’s Award and the Lockwood Award are typically the highlights of the regatta.
Sunday was no exception, as Eddie could attest.
“You talk about contributions to sailing — it’s not what I’ve given to sailing. It’s what sailing’s given to me,” he said.
“This has made my life ... is there a better sport in the world than sailing?”