Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was named British yachtsman of the year by the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) at an awards ceremony at Trinity House in London.
The awards were sponsored for the first time by the online resource www.boats.com, after the previous sponsor Nick Davis, of Apollo Boats, went to ground without paying for last year’s event.
Mr Davis had entered a three-year deal to sponsor the YJA Yachtsman of the Year awards, and the defaulting entrepreneur left a huge hole in the finances of the Yachting Journalists’s Association.
A month before the event this January, organisers of the awards were concerned that the annual lunch would have to be cancelled unless a new sponsor could be found.
June Hamilton, secretary of the YJA, reported at the time that Nick Davis’ enterprises and associated companies, maritime security specialist GoAgt, the franchised Local Letter Box and boatbuilders Apollo Boats Ltd – had all collapsed in spectacular fashion.
June said: ‘This guy purported to be a millionaire but turned out to be a man of straw. I don’t think I’ve ever been so comprehensively hoodwinked.’
However, the new sponsor was secured and the 13 January 2015 event went ahead as planned, with awards presented by boats.com president Ian Atkins and Bob Fisher, chairman of the YJA.
Members of the YJA voted Sir Robin as the overall winner, following a closely-contested shortlist that included ISAF sailing world champion Giles Scott from Portland and Hamble-based solo transatlantic sailor Miranda Merron.
At the age of 75, Sir Robin’s achievements last year culminated in a third-in-class finish in the renowned Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race.
It was the fourth time the Portsmouth-based sailor had been crowned Yachtsman of the Year, with the first accolade dating back to 1969 when he became the first person to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation.
Accepting his award, Sir Robin said: ‘At last I’ve caught up with Sir Ben Ainslie having now won my fourth award. The other two nominees both deserved to win, so I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.’
Windsurfer Emma Wilson from Christchurch in Dorset, the current Youth World champion, was named the boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year.
A special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Iain Percy, OBE, in recognition of his contribution to the enormously successful Bart’s Bash charity initiative to raise funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.
Sponsor Nick Davis, of Apollo Boats, has gone to ground without paying for last year’s YJA Yachtsman of the Year…
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