Young sailors of the year presented by Ben Ainslie

Two high-flying young dinghy sailors joined an exclusive club over the weekend as they became 2009’s YJA Pantaenius Young Sailors of the Year.

Phil Sparks from Muddiford and Ben Gratton from Guildford were presented with the prestigious YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year Award 2009 at the Tullet Prebon London International Boat Show on Saturday 9th January 2010.

The award was presented by sailing legend Ben Ainslie CBE, a previous winner himself.

Phil and Ben were voted RYA Southern Regional Young Sailors of the Year 2009 last autumn. They won Gold in their 420 on the final day of the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Brazil. They also won first place in the Kiel Week regatta and third place in the 420 Class Worlds at Lake Garda.

Phil and Ben were amongst thirteen RYA Regional Young Sailor of the Year winners who are voted for by RYA affiliated sailing clubs. These young sailors have made a significant impact on youth sailing, ranging from gold medal winning achievements and overcoming adversity, to the huge amount of hard work and effort they give back to their clubs.

Ben Ainslie also presented awards to the RYA Regional Winners:

Eastern: Aaron Lowther and Steve Curtis

East Midlands: Alice Kent and Lucy Childs

Northern Ireland: Chris Eames

North East: Gary Rutherford

Scotland: Callum Airlie

South East: Thomas Lambert

South West: Isobel Hamilton

Thames Valley: Sophie Hamilton

Wales: Hannah Tilley

West Midlands: Andrew Bridgman

Yorkshire and Humberside: Emma Labourne

North West: Adam Purcell

YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year award was first presented in 1993. Early winners include Dame Ellen MacArthur and Ben Ainslie CBE, who both went on to win the Yachtsman of the Year title.

In addition to votes from members of the public for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year, over 1,700 RYA affiliated clubs have the opportunity to nominate. Plus, the RYA puts forward winners from each of its 13 regions as nominations for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year. YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year receives a trophy and goodies provided by Azure Wear UK, Yacht Parts Plymouth and Allspars.

Yachtsman of the Year will be announced on Tuesday.