The 2017 nominees feature sailors drawn from the America’s Cup, Vendee Globe, Windsurfing, Offshore and Olympic Class racing, highlighting the breadth and depth of the sport.
The Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards is the most prestigious award of recognition in the dynamic sport of sailing. Since the awards’ inception in 1994, the trophy has proudly accumulated the names of those who have demonstrated unparalleled, performance, endurance and accomplishment in sailing.
More than 80 nominations were received for the 2017 Award for sailors demonstrating outstanding achievement in the sport of sailing between 19 September 2016 and 31 August 2017.
The names vying for the coveted and prestigious 2017 Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are:
Marit Bouwmeester (NED): 2017 Laser Radial World Champion
Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) continued her fine form, claiming a well-earned gold medal at the year ending World Cup Series Final in Melbourne, Australia. However, Bouwmeester was overcome with repetitive injuries, resulting in her unable to compete at major regattas throughout 2017. After months without competition, Bouwmeester made an astonishing comeback at the Laser Radial World Championships on home waters in Medemblik, the Netherlands and claimed an emphatic third world title.
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA): 49erFX World Cup Series Champions
In the aftermath of Rio 2016, Brazil’s golden girls, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze enjoyed some deserved rest to digest the feat of their achievement. After months out of the 49erFX the pair could have been excused for being rusty as they made their comeback at the start of 2017 at Sailing’s World Cup Series event in Miami, USA.
They were far from it, dominating to win gold. They followed their success up with victory at the French leg of the World Cup Series in Hyères, before sealing another comprehensive gold at the World Cup Final in Santander. The only imperfection in their 2017 record was a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships
Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU): Pro Windsurfers Association World Tour Freestyle and Slalom World Champion
No one has dominated the Pro Windsurfers Association World Tour quite like Sarah-Quita Offringa.
In 2008, Offringa won her first freestyle world title and in 2017, she made it ten consecutive titles in a row. The Aruban is a formidable force that is rarely beaten but her skillset is not confined to freestyle. In 2017, she won her fourth slalom world title and has now moved across to wave where she is once again a leader in the pack.
Tara Pacheco (helmed by Fernando Echavarri) (ESP): Nacra 17 World Cup Series Champions
Spain’s Tara Pacheco (helmed by Fernando Echávarri) have been a dominant force in the Nacra 17 in 2017.
The Spanish team started the year with victory on their home waters at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, Mallorca, Spain. They moved on to Hyères, France where they successfully defended the World Cup Series France title they won in 2016. Heading back to their home waters, Pacheco (helmed by Echavarri) claimed the World Cup Series Final title.
As the Nacra 17 went fully foiling, the Spanish team made a seamless transition. They remained at the top of the fleet, sealing a silver medal at the World Championships La Grand Motte, France.
Glenn Ashby (AUS): America’s Cup winning Skipper
The inspiration behind Emirates Team New Zealand’s, Glenn Ashby worked relentlessly for four years to inspire and build a team to achieve success at the 35th America’s Cup.
A formidable sailor, Ashby was not only at the forefront of the sailing team but drove the design team forward, taking innovative calculated risks that culminated in a winning design. Emirates Team New Zealand dominated the America’s Cup defenders, ORACLE TEAM USA, to take the Auld Mug back to New Zealand.
Peter Burling (NZL): America’s Cup winning Helmsman
At the helm of Emirates Team New Zealand, Peter Burling (NZL) was the coolest, the calmest and most collected man in all of Bermuda during the 35th America’s Cup.
With the weight of an expectant nation on his shoulders, Burling never once looked deterred throughout the Challenger Series and America’s Cup Match. Even a dramatic capsize, that could have jeopardised the whole campaign, didn’t put him off his stride. Facing off against ORACLE TEAM USA and the bullish Jimmy Spithill, Burling was never fazed and with a hard-working team, spearheaded a 7-1 victory.
Thomas Coville (FRA): Singlehanded Round the World Record holder
Thomas Coville’s pursuit of the singlehanded round the world record became an obsession. The record had eluded Coville on his previous attempts but at the end of 2016, a rare window of opportunity arose for Coville where he was able to combine his expertise with favourable weather systems.
Setting off on 6 November 2016, Coville pushed his 102ft trimaran Sodebo Ultim to the limit and on Christmas Day, 49 days 3 hours 4 minutes and 28 seconds later, Coville had not only set a new record, he had completely obliterated the previous record by eight days.
Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA):2016-2017 Vendée Globe winner
Known as the Jackal due to his ability to overwhelm his opponent and never give an inch, Armel Le Cleac’h demonstrated these attributes in abundance on his way to winning the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe.
With Alex Thomson in pursuit, Le Cleac’h used his Jackal-like instinct to keep the British racer at bay. It may have seemed close to observers but it was never in any doubt to Le Cleac’h, sailing across the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne in a record 74d 3h 35m and 46s.
The male and female winners will be announced on Tuesday 7 November 2017 at the World Sailing Awards Ceremony in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Further details on the voting process will follow.
Each winner will be presented with the unique marble and silver trophy depicting the globe, crowned with five silver spinnakers representing the continents, together with a Rolex timepiece.