PORTSMOUTH, R.I.Semaine Olympique Française Laser Radial Champion Anna Tunnicliffe today was named US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. A shortlist of five female sailors – determined from nominations submitted by members of US SAILING – was evaluated by a panel of sailing journalists.
Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year/Walter Cooper
Established in 1961 by US SAILING and sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A. since 1980, the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards recognize the outstanding on-the-water competitive achievement of an individual man and woman in the calendar year just concluded. The winners will be honored and presented with specially engraved Rolex timepieces during a luncheon on February 26, 2010, at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year/Walter Cooper
Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year – Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) has been named US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. She was nominated to the award’s shortlist for the fifth consecutive year, and, having won the award in 2008 as well, becomes the first woman in 27 years to win the award in back-to-back years, a feat previously accomplished by only four women in the award’s 48 year history: Jan O’Malley in 1969/70, Jane Pegel in 1971/72, Sally Lindsay Honey in 1973/74, and Betsy Alison in 1981/82.
“It’s truly amazing to win this award again,” said an ecstatic Tunnicliffe. “I could not have done half of my season without the help of my crew: Molly Vandemoer, Debbie Capozzi, Liz Bower and Alice Manard. I feel honored, lucky and fortunate to win. Being nominated is an achievement; winning is amazing!”
Since winning the Laser Radial Olympic Gold Medal at the 2008 Games in China, Tunnicliffe has proven her talent and versatility by excelling not only in the singlehanded dinghy but also in skippering several different one-design boats in both fleet and match racing. She dominated the Laser Radial fleet during the 2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup series by winning gold at US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR and Semaine Olympique Francaise in France, and bronze at Kieler Woche in Germany. She also won the Laser Radial Women’s North American Championship in Florida and finished third at the Laser Radial World Championship in Japan.
Tunnicliffe’s success on the 2009 match racing circuit was also notable. She won the Detroit Cup in Ultimate 20s and was second at U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in St. Thomas sailed in IC 24s. Her medal haul also included bronze collected at the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final in Brazil sailed in J/24s, and at Skandia Sail for Gold in England, sailing the Elliott 6 Metre, the equipment chosen for the debut of the new women’s match racing event at the 2012 Olympic Regatta.
In October, Tunnicliffe was fleet racing J/24s in Rochester, New York, where she won the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship. (It was during the 1997 running of this event that she first gained national prominence – at age 14 she was the youngest skipper in the fleet.) Less than a month later, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) named Tunnicliffe its female 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for accomplishments during the qualifying period of September, 2008, through August, 2009.
The 27-year-old Tunnicliffe, a native of England, grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, sailing from the North Cape Yacht Club in Michigan. Her college sailing career at Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.), where she earned ICSA All-American honors three times (2003, ’04, ’05), was highlighted with being named the 2005 Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year. Ranked number one in the world in the Laser Radial class since April of 2008, Tunnicliffe’s recent commitment to a match racing campaign in the Elliott 6 Metre focused on the 2012 Olympic Games shows the versatile sailor has no plans to slow down.
“I’m so happy I can do this [sail] for a living,” added Tunnicliffe. “I have more goals to reach in my sailing career, and starting this year  with this award is amazing.”
About Rolex Watch U.S.A.
Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America's Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics preparation, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, offshore, one-design and women's events. In 2010, Rolex will sponsor over 20 prestigious yachting events globally, including the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex Capri Sailing Week, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race and the New York Yacht Club Race Week presented by Rolex.
About US SAILING
The United States Sailing Association (US SAILING), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.