Australian Sailing Team and Sailing Squad athletes were well represented among the finalists at the Australian Sailing Awards in Sydney on Friday night, but the major honours went to an America’s Cup winner and a young duo emerging from the youth ranks.
In a qualification period which did not include last year’s Olympic or Paralympic Games, Rio Laser gold medallist Tom Burton managed to be named a finalist through his silver medal at the Aarhus World Championship Test Event and silver at the 2017 Laser World Championship in Croatia. Burton showed versatility by competing also in the Farr 40s series and the Moth World Championship, where he came 13th from a fleet of 220.
Burton was joined by Australian Sailing Team colleague David Gilmour, who was a finalist through his gold medals in the 49er at the Australian Championships and Kiel Week, 2nd in the 49er European Championships and 3rd at Aarhus. Gilmour also impressed with some strong match-racing results during the voting period.
The ultimate prize went to former Australian Sailing Team member and 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medallist Glenn Ashby, who this year skippered Emirates Team New Zealand to victory at the 35th America’s Cup.
Australian Sailing Squad 470W pair Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries were finalists for the Female Sailor of the Year after their silver medal at the Junior World Championships in Japan and 13th placing at their debut open World Championship.
Winners were Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot, who claimed the Youth World Championship in the 29er class late last year, but surrendered their title defence in order to move into the 49er Olympic class and pursue a spot on the Australian Sailing Team for Tokyo 2020.
It’s a leap of faith by Bryant and Wilmot, who are no longer listed as Australian Youth Team members and now much post appropriate results to be selected in the Australian Sailing Squad.
Finn Alexander, now a member of the Australian Sailing Squad, took out Youth Sailor of the Year after capturing the 2016 World Sailing Youth World Championship in the Laser class. Shortly afterwards, he competed in the Australian Laser Championships, where he came first in the U21 category and 5th overall.
Teenager Zac Littlewood was a youth category finalist through his podium finish in a 65-boat fleet at the Laser Radial World Championship, the best of many fine results throughout the year.
The award for best Sailor with a Disability went to Rio silver medallist Matt Bugg, who won gold in the 2.4mR class at the Australian Championships, silver at the Para World Sailing Championships and was named Tasmanian Athlete of the Year.
ALL THE WINNERS
Male Sailor of the Year | Glenn Ashby
Female Sailor of the Year | Natasha Bryant & Annie Wilmot
Sailor of the Year with a Disability | Matthew Bugg
Youth Sailor of the Year | Finn Alexander
Sport Professional Award | Jenn Suffield
Sport Promotion Award | Nicole Douglass
Club of the Year | Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (WA)
Coach of the Year | Thomas Spithill (NSW)
Instructor of the Year | Kate Hyde (Vic)
Official of the Year | Barry Johnson (WA)
Volunteer Award | Jack Winning (NSW)
President's Award | Simon Hoffman
CYCA SOLAS Trusts Bravery Award | Simon Hoffman
Lifetime Achievement | David Kellett AM
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