Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Australian Sailors Nominated for ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award

Slingsby, Page and Belcher after winning in Germany. Image copyright Victor Kovalenko.

by Criag Heydon

Two Australian Sailing Team crews have been announced as finalists in the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award, recognising their outstanding achievements in the last year.

Australian 470 crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, and Laser sailor Tom Slingsby are finalists in the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award with the winner to be announced on November 9, 2010, in Athens, Greece.

Belcher, from the Gold Coast, and Page, from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, were nominated following their stellar year which saw them win the 470 World Championship, the ISAF Sailing World Cup and become the world number one ranked 470 crew.

“We’re both very honoured to be nominated for the award, it’s the highest honour in sailing and to be recognised with the best of the world is amazing,” said Belcher. “We certainly didn’t expect the nomination, we’ve been focusing on our performances for the year and this just caps off a fantastic year for Malcolm and I.”

“This year we decided to take it to the next level, put in time in the boat and further develop as a team as we head towards the 2012 London Olympic Games and it’s nice to know that the commitment pays off,” he said.

Page’s nomination comes after 13 years at the top of the 470 class which has now included an Olympic Gold medal, four 470 World Championships and an ISAF World Championship, making him the most successful 470 sailor in history.

“When I heard the news I felt very honoured,” said Page. “Awards like this are not something you strive for, you strive for your results and honours such as this are a byproduct of the hard work and commitment you put in.”

“The nomination comes at the end of a huge year for Mat and I, to win the 470 World Championship, the ISAF Sailing World Cup, for me to become the most successful 470 sailor ever and now this, it’s a great reward,” he said.

In a busy and successful year Belcher and Page won the 470 World Championship in Holland, won rounds of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne and Germany, finished with Silver medals in Miami, Holland and England, were crowned ISAF Sailing World Cup Champions in the 470 class and picked up an Australian 470 Championship. The pair is consistently at the front of the 470 fleet and did not finish outside of the top six in any of the regattas they contested.

For Tom Slingsby, from Gosford, his nomination capped off a great year which saw him win two World Championships in two weeks in the Laser and Etchells class and become the world number one Laser sailor.

“This is a great way to cap off what has been a great year,” said Slingsby. “This awards brings together all the different areas of sailing and all the nominees have done great things in the sport so it’s an honour to be named alongside them.”

“I’ve worked really hard this year to get back to my best and being nominated for World Sailor of the Year is the perfect way to end the year,” he said.

“We’re still two years out from the 2012 London Olympic Games but I am right where I want to be at this stage,” said Slingsby. “There’s still a long way to go but I know if keep progressing well there’s nothing to stop me from winning.”

Slingsby’s return to the top of the Laser class has been phenomenal, after a 22nd placed finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and then a 17th at the 2009 Laser World Championship he was questioning whether to continue in the sport but the now 26 year old has had a remarkable turnaround in the last year.

Slingsby put his disappointment from the Olympic Games and the 2009 Laser World Championship behind him and since August 2009 has won all four rounds of the ISAF Sailing World Cup that he has contested, including back-to-back wins at the 2012 London Olympic Games venue and finished third at the 2010 Laser European Championship.

To finish off his year Slingsby then headed to Ireland where he won the 2010 Etchells World Championship with John Bertrand and Andrew Palfrey before winning the 2010 Laser World Championship which began in England the very next day. Slingsby’s Laser World Championship win was his third in four years and he was also a member of Transfusion which finished second at the 2010 Farr40 World Championship.

Australian Sailing Team