Skandia Team GBR’s golden Yngling girls will discover tomorrow (6 November) if they have landed the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.
The trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson are on the shortlist for the much-vaunted accolade after an amazing year that saw them clinch gold at the ISAF World Championships in Portugal in July before replicating that success at the Olympic Test Event in China a month later.
Launched in 1994, the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award is widely-regarded as the pinnacle award a sailor can receive in recognition of his or her outstanding achievements by the world of sailing.
And with 2008 now fast approaching, the award, being unveiled at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards Dinner and Presentation in Estoril, Portugal, would be a great fillip for the Beijing nominees as they continue their preparations for next year’s Olympic Games.
Five male and four female crews have been shortlisted for the award but there are only two winners – a female and a male World Sailor of the Year.
Ayton, Webb and Wilson are nominated alongside Dutch 470 World Champions Marcelien de Koning and Lobke Berkhout, match racing World Champion Claire Leroy from France and Belgium’s Laser Radial European Champion Evi van Acker.
Meanwhile the male nominees include America’s Cup-winning helmsman Ed Baird as well as Franck Cammas (France), Vincenzo Onorato (Italy) Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (Brazil) and Rohan Veal (Australia).
Ayton’s ‘Team Mirabaud’ kicked off the award nomination period – and their first ever event together – with a bronze at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth last October, and followed this up with silver at the Grade 1 Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta in January 2007.
Medal success continued with a win at the Yngling North American Championships and silver at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma (ESP) and at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres (FRA).
The trio went on to reach the top of the podium at the Grade 1 Breitling Regatta in Medemblik (NED) before claiming gold at the two crucial events in the British selection process for Beijing – the World Championships and the Olympic Test Event – which not only saw them reach the heady heights of number one in the ISAF world rankings but also earned them the Olympic nod from RYA selectors.