Boating cartoonist Mike Peyton, Volvo Ocean Race skipper Ian Walker and young sailor Eleanor Poole were celebrated at the YJA Yachtsman of the Year awards

Ian Walker scooped the prestigious trophy at the boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year awards, organised by the Yachting Journalists’ Association.

Eleanor Poole gained the accolade of Young Sailor of the Year, and famous yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Cartoonist Mike Peyton receiving his life-time achievement award from YJA chairman Paul Gelder. Credit: Patrick Roach

Cartoonist Mike Peyton receiving his life-time achievement award from YJA chairman Paul Gelder. Credit: Patrick Roach

The Yachtsman of the Year Award is one of Britain’s most coveted sporting trophies and 2015 marks its Diamond Jubilee. Previous winners include Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Sir Ben Ainslie.

Ian Walker, from Warsash in Hampshire, became the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race in the event’s 37-year history when he led Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to victory in the 2014/15 event. Ian and his team also won the in-port race series and set a 24-hour distance record of an incredible 550.82NM.

Paul Gelder, chairman of The Yachting Journalists’ Association said: ‘Ian Walker is one of Britain’s most successful sailors and we’re delighted to see his name added to the illustrious winners of our trophy.’

Eleanor Poole, winner of the boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year Award, with boats.com CEO Ian Atkins and YJA chairman Paul Gelder. Credit: Patrick Roach

Eleanor Poole, winner of the boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year Award, with boats.com CEO Ian Atkins and YJA chairman Paul Gelder. Credit: Patrick Roach

Eleanor Poole, from Dunsford in Devon, impressed members of the YJA by garnering a string of firsts to win the 2015 Topper National championships at the age of 14, as well as securing an impressive seventh at the 2015 Topper World Championship on Lake Garda, Italy.

Mike Peyton was named as the recipient of a special YJA Diamond Jubilee Lifetime Achievement Award. Peyton, who celebrated his 95th birthday on January 8, has been a unique commentator on the sailing scene for more than 60 years. Comedian and sailor Griff Rhys Jones says of Peyton: ‘He captures the anti-glamour of yachting.’

The YJA represents more than 260 specialist marine journalists, photographers, TV and radio presenters across the major sailing and boating regions in the world. It aims to promote greater awareness of all aspects of leisure boating through the professional services offered by its members.

The awards ceremony was held at Trinity House, London.

YJA Awards_Ian Atkins (President boats.com), Sir Robin Knox-Johnson (Winner Yachtsman of the Year), Bob Fisher (Chairman, YJA)

Yachtsman of the Year awards

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was named British yachtsman of the year at the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) awards 2015