Ainslie, Bekatorou and Tsoufla named ISAF Sailors of the Year

Winners come from 470, Finn classes

Courtesy Isaf

The International Sailing Federation announced the winners of the 2002 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year awards Tuesday evening during the organization's annual meeting in Limassol, Cyprus. Olympic sailors Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa of Greece and Ben Ainslie of Great Britain were recognized for outstanding sailing achievements for the year.

Bekatorou and Tsoulfa were chosen because of their dominating performance in the women’s 470 Class this year. Over the past year they’ve won virtually every ISAF Grade 1 and Grade 2 event they entered, including SPA in May and the World Championships in September. During the Worlds, Bekatorou, 24, and Tsoulfa, 29, won six of 14 races, including a stunning run of five in a row early in the event.

Ainslie was selected in recognition of his outstanding transition from the Laser to the Finn class. After a successful career in the Laser that included a silver medal from the 1996 Olympics and gold in 2000, Ainslie made a brief foray into America’s Cup racing, sailing for the Seattle-based OneWorld Challenge, before switching over to the Finn. Despite his inexperience in the boat, and that fact that he was 10 to 20 pounds underweight for most of the season, he won the Europeans, the Worlds, and the Olympic Test regatta last summer and clearly marked himself as the man to beat in Athens in 2004.