British talents in dinghy, offshore and inshore racing recognised in award nominations
The diversity of British sailing talent has been acknowledged in the 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year shortlist, with five British contenders in the running for the coveted award.
Five top British sailors have been recognised across dinghy, offshore and inshore sailing disciplines, with Finn star Giles Scott, Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper Ian Walker and five-time World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams among the five nominees for the men’s award.
Launched 21 years ago, the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year is recognised as the pinnacle award a sailor can receive for his or her outstanding achievements by the world of sailing.
The awards are presented every November to one male and one female sailor, with this year’s ceremony taking place on Tuesday 10 November in Sanya, China.
Twelve months on from his first World Sailor of the Year nomination, world number one Giles Scott remains the dominant force in the Olympic Finn class.
During the 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2015 award nomination period, the 28-year-old has extended his unbeaten run to two years in the heavyweight dinghy class, taking in a second world title, a second consecutive Olympic Test Event victory in Rio, World Cup wins in Weymouth and Portland, Hyeres and Miami, a EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup title in Palma – all combined with a tactician’s role alongside one-time rival Ben Ainslie in his quest to bring the America’s Cup back to British shores.
Ian Walker became the first British man to skipper a Volvo Ocean Race-winning team when he claimed overall honours with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the 2014-15 edition of the gruelling nine-month, 39,000 nautical mile 2014-15 race. Securing two leg wins on their way to glory, Walker’s team also secured victory in the in-port series and set a 24 hour distance record of 550.82 nautical miles while approaching Cape Horn.
Ian Williams is the only skipper in history to win five World Match Racing Championship titles, overhauling the previous record of four held by Australia’s Pete Gilmour at the Monsoon Cup back in Malaysia back in February. The world number one-ranked Williams finished the 2014-15 season with 13 event wins and 35 podium finishes.
Other shortlisted male nominees are New Zealand 49er pairing Pete Burling and Blair Tuke, and French Route du Rhum winner Loick Peyron.
Team SCA blazed a trail for women’s yacht racing in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race as the first all-female team in over a decade. Skipper Sam Davies led the team to a history-making victory in the penultimate leg into Lorient from Lisbon and a podium finish in the in-port series, and inspired a whole new wave of aspiring female sailors in the process.
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Double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton is now the sole female sailor racing in the Extreme Sailing Series fleet, and as tactician on The Wave, Muscat, has guided them to five wins from seven regattas with the team now in touching distance of the series victory when Sydney hosts the finale in December.
Also in the running for the women’s award are Danish match racing World Champion Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, French windsurfing World Champion Charline Picon and Russian kiteboard racer Elena Kalinina.
The ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs) – the national governing bodies for sailing around the world – vote for the one female nominee and one male nominee whom they feel deserves the honour of receiving the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award 2015, with attendees at the awards also casting their votes in Sanya on the night of 10 November.
Visit the ISAF website for more information on the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award