For Rolex Winner, Award Comes at Pivotal Point

ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe is currently transitioning from the Laser Radial into the Elliot 6m. "First Beat" from our November 11, 2009, /SW eNewsletter/

Even as ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe (foreground) sits atop the Laser Radial rankings, she has decided to focus her attention on women's match racing for the 2012 Olympics.

Even as ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe (foreground) sits atop the Laser Radial rankings, she has decided to focus her attention on women's match racing for the 2012 Olympics.Nico Martinez, 40 Trofeo S.a.r. Princesa Sofia

At a ceremony in Busan, Korea, on Tuesday, Anna Tunnicliffe won the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. For the Olympic gold medalist, the accolade comes at an exciting career juncture. She continues to lead the ISAF Sailing World Cup rankings in the Laser Radial, but after a successful foray into the women's match-racing discipline, has decided to focus her attention on the Elliot 6m for the 2012 London Olympics.

"I have just made the decision to match race," said a jubilant Tunnicliffe following the Sailor of the Year ceremony. "I'm still going to cross train in the Laser Radial, and I'm hoping to try and do both at the trials, but now my main focus is going to be match racing."

The fun she had sailing with crew Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Cappozzi at match racing events such as the ISAF Nations Cup and Skandia Sail for Gold was a major factor in Tunnicliffe's decision. "Over the last six months, I had been trying to figure out in my head what I wanted to do," she says. "Then one morning at the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship I woke up and said, 'You know what? I'm having a good time sailing with my team. This is the kind of sailing I want to keep doing.'"

The Rolex award gives Tunnicliffe a welcome boost as she takes on a new challenge. "It's a great feeling to win the award," she says. "I've really been enjoying the match racing, which is totally different for me. Right now, the plan is just to keep sailing and have some fun. Hopefully the results will follow."

At the moment, Tunnicliffe was headed out on the town with fellow winner Torben Grael and some of the other nominees, including British solo sailor Hilary Lister. "Everybody who's here is about to go out and have a good time," she said. "We're going to a bar to have a drink or two, then our flight back leaves at 5 a.m."

  • Read US SAILING's extensive interview with Tunnicliffe.
  • More on the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards.