Friday, 13 November 2009
HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Anna Tunnicliffe, female winner and Lionel Schurch from Rolex SA. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.
by Anna Tunnicliffe
Wow! It feels truly amazing to have won the 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Tuesday evening in Busan, Korea. I am very honored and proud to have won, and overwhelmed with happiness. It has been a great year and I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone. I would like to give special thank you's to Carmeuse and USSTAG for their support of my sailing, my parents for being my managers, my husband for being so supportive of all my sailing. I must also thank my coaches, and everyone who sails with me, especially Molly, Liz, Debbie, and Alice.
The award was given out during the annual ISAF Conference that was held in Korea this year. The awards dinner is a mid-conference event where they honor the finalists for their accomplishments over the past year. I was up against some fantastic sailors: Sam Davies, the “Roxy Girl”, who most notably sailed the Vendee Globe race and finished 4th overall; Hilary Lister, who is a truly amazing person, sailed around Briton on a 40 day stage solo effort on a sip-puff system in her boat; and Blanca Machon from Spain, who is an accomplished windsurfer and medaled in just about everything she sailed this year. Only Hilary was in attendance at the awards ceremony. Blanca got sick a few days before and couldn’t make it, and Sam is competing in a race across the Atlantic.
It was a great evening. The dinner was held in the sail measurement building of the 1988 Olympic Games. It was decorated and looked wonderful. Hosting the event was Jesper Banks from Denmark, another fantastic sailor with three Olympic Medals in his possession. Brad and I got to ride from the airport to the hotel with him the first night we arrived, so it was great to get to chat with him a bit. Handing out the awards was HRH Crowned Prince Frederik of Denmark. I was actually lucky enough to sit next to him at dinner, which made my night even more special.
The evening started around 19:30 and lasted most of the rest of the day/night. The finalists were announced and introduced just before dinner started. We ate dinner and just before dessert, we were called up onto stage for a question and answer session. Then dessert was served and we were all told the announcement would be following. It was, but it seemed to be a long time before they dimmed the lights to signal that we getting to the announcement stage. I wasn’t too anxious up to that point, but as soon as the lights went down, all the butterflies in my stomach started to fly around, and I was so nervous. When HRH announced my name, I didn’t even hear him say my last name, I heard him say “Anna”, and then I heard Brad sitting next to me say, “You did it Bear!” (Bear is his nickname for me). I turned to him and gave him a huge hug and went up to collect my award and say my thanks. I was very nervous still and my acceptance speech was rather short, and I think my voice was a bit shaky, but I think that is permissible in such a situation. After I was finished and got back to my seat, I started to cry because I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I think the hardest part of this event, is that all year the competitions that we do are within our control and we know what is going on or is about to happen. Here, very few people knew before they made the announcement and it was quite nerve-racking.
But again, I am very happy and delighted. Brad and I flew home today and now I am in St Thomas for the start of the US Women’s Match Racing National Championships, which start at 9am tomorrow morning I think. Luckily I didn’t switch time zones when I went to Korea, so I should be ready to go.
Again, I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of my sailing, and I am even more inspired to work hard to win Gold in London in 2012.
ISAF Rolex World Sailor Awards