|HELSINKI, FINLAND-(8-11-2006) Paige Railey of the USA and Mike Sanderson of New Zealand paid tribute to the international sailing world after being named as winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2006.
At the Awards Ceremony in Helsinki, 19-year-old Railey and 35-year-old Sanderson were honoured for their outstanding sailing achievements during the twelve months to 31 August 2006. Despite her young years, Railey has proven herself the class act in the Laser Radial women's fleet, crowning her 2006 season with a Gold medal at the Olympic Test Regatta in Qingdao, China. Sanderson skippered the 70-foot race yacht ABN AMRO ONE to an overwhelming victory in the Volvo Ocean Race that concluded in June this year.
Railey won the award ahead of an impressive list of other female nominees, including the Spanish team who won the Yngling World Championships and British sailor Dee Caffari who became the first woman to circumnavigate the world singlehanded, sailing the 'wrong way round' - i.e. in a westerly direction against the prevailing winds. “To be included on this list of esteemed sailors is an incredible addition to my sailing accomplishments,” said Railey. “I would like to thank all the Rolex nominees for the dedication to the sport, and to congratulate them for each of their successes. I'm proud to be associated with such an elite group.”
The Laser Radial sailor from Florida described her passion for the sport. “I compete in sailing because it's what I love to do. I believe it is a gift I have been granted, and I feel it is my obligation to take my gift to as high a level as I can. Sometimes when my body is hurting after sailing, and I ask myself, is it all worth it? It's on nights like tonight that I realise that it is all worth it. The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said winning is work harder, go longer, and give more than anyone else.”
Those are sentiments that Mike Sanderson could relate to, having emerged victorious from one of the toughest round-the-world races on the sailing calendar. “It is a fantastic honour to receive the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. The ABN AMRO ONE story in the Volvo Ocean Race is a childhood dream come true, not just for me but for the whole crew. It's something which my whole career has been focused on achieving.” Sanderson was keen to emphasise the teamwork involved, from the sailing crew, the shore crew, the management and the sponsors of Team ABN AMRO. He singled out a few names for mention. “One is the fantastic interaction between the team and the design office of Juan Kouyoumdjian, the young Argentinean designer who came up with two fantastic boats, and my guys on board - to Justin, Jan, Rob, Dave, Sidney, Tony, Mark, Brad and Stan the navigator. I truly am up here representing the team.”
America's Cup sailor and TV broadcaster Gary Jobson hosted the Awards. “It's a great honour to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, even just to be nominated, particularly when you look back through the list. What this does is inspire more sailors to go forward and strive for greater things. Please use this honour to inspire others, to promote our sport. Sailing really is the best sport in the world, it gets us outdoors, it suits both genders, all sizes, and it's a sport you can continue for your whole life.”
ISAF President of Honour HM King Constantine, an Olympic gold medallist from the 1960 Games in Rome, picked up Jobson's theme of a 'sport for life' in mentioning Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who at the age of 67 is currently out on the ocean racing around the world in the Velux 5 Oceans Race. “He's 67 years old, I'm 66, and I think he's crazy,” quipped the King.
Jobson interviewed a number of other Rolex nominees who were present at the ceremony. Peter Gilmour continues to dominate match-racing regattas 25 years after he first stepped on to the world match racing stage. The Australian said he loved the sport as much now as he did then. “The great thing is you never stop learning, you're always discovering something new,” he said. Yves Parlier was nominated for his death-defying record-breaking feats on the radical twin-masted catamaran Médiatis Région Aquitaine. Asked where the French obsession with speed and record-breaking stemmed from, Parlier said that every French offshore sailor is walking in the footsteps of Eric Tabarly. “The French like being alone on the sea, they are very interested by new solutions and new concepts of sailing,” he said.
Olympic bronze medallist from Athens 2004, Dorte Jensen hadn't done much sailing since becoming a mother and yet she was a worthy nominee after returning to the sport to win the Dexia Private Banking ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship. “It was so nice to be nominated this year, but Paige was an excellent winner, she really deserves this award.”
More than 400 guests from 45 nations attended the Awards Ceremony held in an historic warehouse, the Wanha Satama on the Helsinki waterfront. Attendees included international sailors and prominent personalities from the sailing world. Presenting the Awards were HM King Constantine and Arnaud Boetsch of Rolex.
The winners were each presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece and the marble and silver World Sailor Trophy - a solid marble sphere depicting the world and crowned by five silver spinnakers representing the continents.
The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards took place during the ISAF Annual Conference.
A podcast of the event may be found at appftp.com/apppodcast/worldsailor06, further download details may be found below.