by Zoe Hawkins
Double Olympic medallist Rex Samuel Sellers has been recognised in the New Years Honours List for his services to New Zealand Yachting.
Sellers was today named one of New Zealand’s greatest contributors and highest achievers, when he was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Born in Nelson in 1950, Sellers is one of the country’s most successful yachtsmen, and his contribution to the sport of sailing and to New Zealand’s sporting success on the world stage is of the highest level.
In 1984 he won an Olympic Gold Medal, and in 1988 he won a Silver Medal, sailing with Chris Timms in the Tornado Class. He finished fourth in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, and he was third (with Mark Rayner) at the 1982 World Championships in Canada.
His sailing career began in 1961 sailing in the Scootum class, before progressing through P Class, Cherubs and 470s into the Flying Dutchman and then, in 1977, Tornados.
He and Gerald Sly were chosen to represent New Zealand at the Tornado class at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, but never competed because of the American-led boycott. They and the Brazilians were then pre-Olympic gold medal favourites.
Sellers, along with Timms and Russell Coutts, was named New Zealand Yachtsman of the Year in 1984. Three of Sellers' sons, Ross, Marc and Brett, have risen to national prominence in sailing and daughter Justina is a top board sailor. In the 2002-2003 America's Cup, Sellers was employed by the American team, Oracle.
Sellers served as President of sailing’s national body, Yachting New Zealand, from 2005 to 2007. He also served on Yachting New Zealand’s Olympic Committee during the Beijing Olympic cycle. He has been involved in coaching - primarily as a volunteer – across numerous classes over the past 15 years.
Sellers was nominated for the Honour by Yachting New Zealand. The New Zealand Order or Merit is awarded to those who have rendered ‘meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits’. He was one of ten individuals recognised for their services to sport.
Yachting New Zealand