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Olympic RS:X Gold Medallist and World Champ Tom Ashley nominated for ISAF Sailor of the Year

ISAF and Rolex are proud to announce the Nominees for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2008. ISAF received nominations from across the world representing all aspects of the sport in two categories - male and female - and the following 10 nominations have been shortlisted. The qualifying period is the year up until 1 September 2008 and all achievements during this time are taken into consideration.

The 2008 nominees are:

Female
Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB & Pippa WILSON (GBR)
Claire LEROY (FRA)
Elise RECHICHI & Tessa PARKINSON (AUS)
Alessandra SENSINI (ITA)
Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA)

Male
Ben AINSLIE (GBR)
Tom ASHLEY (NZL)
Francis JOYON (FRA)
Vincenzo ONORATO (ITA)
Ian WILLIAMS (GBR)

2007 Sailor of the Year Awards - Richard Gladwell Click Here to view large photo
The winners will be selected by the ISAF Member National Authorities, the national governing bodies for sailing around the world, who are now invited to vote for the one male and one female nomination who they believe most deserves the Award.

The winners will be announced at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards presentation and dinner which is being held on Tuesday 11 November 2008. The venue for the event is the stunning Quinta de Jarama in Madrid, Spain.

Each winner will be presented with the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Trophy and a distinctive Rolex timepiece.

The achievements of the 2008 Nominees are:

FEMALE NOMINEES

Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB & Pippa WILSON (GBR)

With one goal in mind for 2008 - Olympic gold, the talented British team of Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON spent the lead-up to the Games proving to the world they were the number one Yngling crew by claiming a clean sweep of the highest graded events of the year.

Heading to Miami for the Yngling Women's World Championship in February 2008, AYTON, WEBB and WILSON were keen to start the Olympic year with a gold medal and they did just that, convincingly defending the World title they picked up in 2007 with a massive 39 points margin over the second place Australian team.

A return to Europe saw the team competing in Palma, Spain at the HRH Princess Sofia Trophy MAPFRE where they picked up a silver medal before travelling to Blanes, Spain for the Europeans, where once again they ended the regatta at the top of the podium. There were bronze medals at the next two ISAF Grade 1 events in Hyères and Medemblik before the team settled into Qingdao for the big one, the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.

It was in wet, blustery conditions that the first ever Medal Race of an Olympic Games took place and the British Yngling team led by one point from their closest rivals from the Netherlands. In an extremely close race AYTON, WEBB and WILSON demonstrated once again their cool, calm style and supreme ability to make it count when it really matters. They controlled the race from start to finish and in securing the race victory they entered the record books as the first crew to win an Olympic Medal Race and with that, the first gold medal of the Competition. The ultimate dream was a reality; Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON were the 2008 European, World and Olympic Champions.

1 - RYA Winter Challenge Match Racing, GBR - ISAF Grade 4 - Nov 2007
5 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA - ISAF Grade 1 - Jan 2008
1 - Yngling Women World Championship, Miami, USA - ISAF Grade W - Feb 2008
2 - HRH Princess Sofia Trophy MAPFRE, Palma, ESP - ISAF Grade 2 - Mar 2008
1 - Yngling Women European Championship, Blanes, ESP - ISAF Grade C1 - Apr 2008
3 - Semaine Olympique Française, Hyères, FRA - ISAF Grade 1 - Apr 2008
3 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, NED - ISAF Grade 1 - May 2008
1 - 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (3 September 2008) - # 1

ISAF World Sailing Rankings # 1 from 3 October 2007 to 6 February 2008 and 9 April to 3 September 2008

Claire LEROY (FRA)

2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, French skipper Claire LEROY continues to dominate women's match racing. In 2008 LEROY notched up another five ISAF Graded event wins, defended her World Champion title and maintained her seat at the # 1 position on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings where she has been since 4 May 2005.

Her first victory in 2008 came in February when she secured the RYA Women's Winter Challenge. She then clinched the New Zealand Women's title in Auckland and the Harken Women's International Championship in Australia before returning to Auckland for the 2008 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship. The successful defence of her title was shared with crew member Elodie BERTRAND and new crew mates Marie RIOU and Claire PRUVOT.

After the Worlds it was back to Europe and another gold medal at the ISAF Grade 1 Match Cup Sweden in Marstrand followed by a silver medal in Calpe, Spain at the ISAF Grade 1 International Women's Match Race Criterium. This remarkable young skipper continues to prove her ability to dominate her field of women's sailing.

8 - IV Open de España, Calpe, ESP - ISAF Grade 2 - Sep 2007
2 - Brasil Women's Cup, Vitoria, BRA - ISAF Grade W - Nov 2007
12 - Brasil Sailing Cup, Vitoria, BRA - ISAF Grade W - Nov 2007
1 - RYA Women's Winter Challenge, GBR - ISAF Grade 2 - Feb 2008
1 - New Zealand Women's Match Racing Championship, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade 2 - Mar 2008
1 - Harken Women's International Match Racing Championship, CYCA, AUS - ISAF Grade 2 - Mar 2008
1 - ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade W - Apr 2008
1 - Match Cup Sweden, Marstrand, SWE - ISAF Grade 1 - Jun 2008
2 - XI International Women's Match Race Criterium, Calpe, ESP - ISAF Grade 1 - Aug 2008

ISAF World Match Race Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (30 July 2008) - # 1

Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS)

Well known faces from the ISAF Youth Worlds, this young team showed their intent at the 2008 470 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, where they picked up their first bronze medal of the year. Hitting the European graded event circuit, they posted some mixed results before once again making the results count where it mattered with another bronze at the ISAF Grade C1 European Championships in Italy.

But it wasn't bronze that this team was after when they got to Qingdao for the Olympic Sailing Competition. Gold was the colour they dreamed of and their win was convincing. One of just four crews who won a gold medal with no previous Olympic experience, RECHICHI and PARKINSON went into their Medal Race with an 18 point lead over their nearest rivals, the three time World Champions from the Netherlands.

They sailed a tactical Medal Race to ensure the Dutch team could not steal their gold medal away and crossed the finish line to secure an Australian 470 double for coach Victor KOVALENKO. At just 21 years old RECHICHI and PARKINSON were the youngest gold medallists at the Olympic Sailing Competition and look set for a bright future.

24 - Sail Melbourne International Regatta, Melbourne, AUS - ISAF Grade 1 - Jan 2008
3 - 470 World Championships, Melbourne, AUS - ISAF Grade W - Jan 2008
15 - Semaine Olympique Française, Hyères, FRA - ISAF Grade 1 - Apr 2008
9 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, NED - ISAF Grade 1 - May 2008
3 - 470 European Championships, Riva del Garda, ITA - ISAF Grade C1 - Jun 2008
1 - 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (3 September 2008) - # 6

Alessandra SENSINI (ITA)

Alessandra SENSINI entered the record books in 2008 when she became the first woman to win four Olympic medals in sailing.

At the age of 38, SENSINI has been a force to be reckoned with on the windsurfing circuit for decades and continues to demonstrate her outstanding skill by adapting seamlessly to new equipment as the sport develops and maintaining the extreme physical fitness demanded by the discipline.

She began her 2008 season with a gold medal at the 2008 RS:X World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, her second title in the class since the inaugural World Championship in 2006. After a solid series including five race wins, SENSINI was on equal points with fellow veteran windsurfer Barbara KENDALL from New Zealand, but the Italian sailed a clinical Medal Race to secure her fourth windsurfing world title.

Back to Europe and SENSINI picked up another gold medal at the HRH Princess Sofia Trophy MAPFRE in Palma, Spain and 20th at the Europeans in Brest, France. On to Qingdao for the Olympic Sailing Competition and SENSINI had her sights set on the podium again. An impressive series of results, not finishing a race outside the top ten, SENSINI flirted with the top of the leaderboard throughout the opening series. Going into the Medal Race she had to put two competitors between herself and the Chinese sailor and duly put in a true champions performance to convincingly win the race. The action unfolding behind SENSINI gave YIN the gold medal but SENSINI was delighted with her historic achievement of a 4th Olympic medal by adding the silver to her gold medal from Sydney in 2000 and bronze medals from Athens in 2004 and Atlanta in 1996.

2 - RS:X New Zealand National Championships, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade 3 - Dec 2007
1 - RS:X World Championships, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade W - Jan 2008
1 - HRH Princess Sofia Trophy MAPFRE, Palma, ESP - ISAF Grade 2 - Mar 2008
20 - RS:X European Championships, Brest, FRA - ISAF Grade C1 - May 2008
2 - 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (3 September 2008) - # 6

Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA)

Anna Tunnicliffe has been a quiet but dominant presence in the Laser Radial fleet for some time and set out in pursuit of her Olympic dream four years ago. Her determination and discipline has seen her pick up medals from four ISAF Grade 1 events in 2008 and seen her top the ISAF World Sailing Rankings for more than half of the nomination period.

TUNNICLIFFE's consistency was the key to her success at the Olympic Sailing Competition and with only one race finish lower than sixth she was in great shape to claim her first Olympic medal after the opening series. One of TUNNICLIFFE's great strengths is her ability to read the wind shifts and shine under pressure, which she demonstrated to perfection to pull off a magnificent comeback in the Laser Radial Medal Race.

Challenging for the gold medal were two other sailors and a poor start for TUNNICLIFFE saw her back in ninth place at the start of the second lap with her dreams of glory over. TUNNICLIFFE was not giving up without a fight and read the shifts perfectly to battle her way back through the fleet to third by the final mark. With the wind decreasing on the final leg, the fleet compressed but TUNNICLIFFE fought on, finished the race in second place and clinched her first Olympic gold medal.

4 - US Women's Match Racing Championship, Detroit, USA - ISAF Grade 3 - Sep 2007 (Match Racing)
6 - Rolex Osprey Cup, St Petersburg, USA - ISAF Grade 1 - Oct 2007 (Match Racing)
9 - Sail Melbourne International Regatta, Melbourne, AUS - ISAF Grade C1 - Jan 2008
2 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA - ISAF Grade 1 - Jan 2008
3 - Sail Auckland, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade 1 - Feb 2008
6 - Laser Radial Women's World Championship, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade W - Mar 2008
2 - Semaine Olympique Française, Hyères, FRA - ISAF Grade 1 - Apr 2008
1 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, NED - ISAF Grade 1 - May 08
14 - Kiel Week, Kiel, GER - ISAF Grade 1 - Jun 2008
1 - 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (3 Sep 2008) - # 1

ISAF World Sailing Rankings # 1 from 3 October to 19 December 2007 and 9 April to 3 September 2008

MALE NOMINEES

Ben AINSLIE (GBR)

Unbeaten in the Finn since 2004 and twice a previous winner of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, Ben AINSLIE is a sailor who knows how to pick his moments. Returning to the Olympic circuit following the conclusion of the 32nd America's Cup, AINSLIE kept his hand in on the match racing circuit but sent a clear signal to the Finn fleet in December 2007 that he was back on the scene and hungry for a third Olympic gold medal.

His first Grade 1 victory of this nomination period came at the Sydney International Regatta in December 2007 and he marched on to pick up another gold medal at Sail Melbourne before taking on his fifth Finn Gold Cup in January 2008. After a solid series Ainslie consolidated his record number of Finn Gold Cup wins by bringing his tally to five. The next two events also saw AINSLIE on the top of the podium and before setting off to China for the Olympic Games he claimed his fourth European title in a nail biting final race in Scarlino, Italy.

On to China and AINSLIE rarely looked troubled out on the complex waters of Qingdao. With just one real challenge left by the Medal Race it was business as usual for this unstoppable Brit. The gold medal was his and he made another strike in the record books, joining the ranks of the world's most successful Olympic sailors with three gold and one silver medal. AINSLIE ends the nomination period with the European, World and Olympic titles to his name.

1 - RYA National Match Racing Qualifier, Weymouth, GBR - ISAF Grade 4 - Sep 2007
1 - Cento Cup, Trapani, ITA - ISAF Grade 1 - Oct 2007 (match racing)
1 - Go for Gold Regatta, Melbourne, AUS - ISAF Grade 3 - Dec 2007
1 - Sydney International Regatta, Sydney, AUS - ISAF Grade 1 - Dec 2007
1 - Sail Melbourne International Regatta, Melbourne, AUS - ISAF Grade 1 - Jan 2008
1 - Finn Gold Cup - ISAF Grade W - Jan 2008
1 - HRH Princess Sofia Trophy MAPFRE, Palma, ESP - ISAF Grade 2 - Mar 2008
1 - Finn European Championship, Scarlino, ITA - ISAF Grade C1 - May 2008
1 - 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (3 September 2008) - # 13

Tom ASHLEY (NZL)

The quest for Olympic glory has been on the agenda for this young Kiwi sailor for some time. Since finishing 10th in Athens at the age of 20, ASHLEY has matured into a world beater on the windsurfing scene, a status he confirmed in January 2008 when he won the RS:X World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. A consistent series with four race wins saw ASHLEY start the final day at the top of the leaderboard and sail a tactical race to ensure he secured the Championship title in front of his home crowd.

A quick trip to Europe and a bronze medal at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik and ASHLEY was set up for achieving his Olympic dream.

ASHLEY's intensive training regime and focus on being the best all round sailor paid dividends again in Qingdao and with a consistent series he went into the Medal Race third overall but just one point behind the leader. ASHLEY sailed a near flawless Medal Race to win a tight three way battle for the gold medal, the first for New Zealand in sailing since 1992 and he ends the nomination period as World and Olympic Champion.

1 - RS:X New Zealand National Championships, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade 3 - Dec 2007
1 - RS:X World Championships, Auckland, NZL - ISAF Grade W - Jan 2008
3 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, NED - ISAF Grade 1 - May 2008
1 - 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (3 September 2008) - # 4

Francis JOYON (FRA)

It took Francis JOYON just 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds to sail solo, non-stop around the world aboard his 98ft trimaran IDEC.

Departing from Brest, France on 23 November 2007 JOYON's voyage encompassed 26,400 nautical miles of excitement, which he covered at an average speed of 15.84 knots slicing a staggering 14 days off the previous record set by Ellen MACARTHUR in 2005.

JOYON's journey began as he meant to continue. Precisely following the battle plan drawn up by his weather router, he covered over 500 miles a day to reach the Equator in six days and a little over 18 hours. After just ten days of sailing, JOYON was already 800 miles ahead of MACARTHUR's record and he shot round the Cape of Good Hope after 15 days, increasing his lead to four days.

JOYON reached the halfway point in 27 days and after carefully threading his way through storms, calm and iceberg territory he reached Cape Horn on 29 December, 35 days after departing from Brest and notching up an average speed of 21 knots.

As JOYON began the home straight the slowdown was sudden. Becalmed and sailing upwind, the South Atlantic showed no mercy. On 8 January he finally managed to pick up the easterly trade wind and began to wind back up to speed, crossing the Equator two days later. A trip up the mast to repair the main halyard highlighted a more serious problem which could have brought the mast - and the record - crashing down in seconds. JOYON climbed his 32 metre mast three times to limit the potential damage but there was more to come. The final days of this epic voyage were spent with the dangers of a deep depression in the Bay of Biscay but JOYON triumphantly arrived back in Brest, completing the remarkable feat in a record breaking 57 days and picking up four other records along the way.

WSSRC Ratified Records - IDEC 98ft Trimaran
Single-handed Round the World Record - 23 Nov 2007 - 19 Jan 2008 - 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds, average speed 15.84 knots
Single-handed 24 hour record - 12 Dec 2007 - 613.5 miles, average speed 25.56 knots
Single-handed Indian Ocean record - 18 Dec 2007 - 9 days, 12 hours and 6 minutes
Single-handed Pacific Ocean record - 28 Dec 2007 - 10 days, 14 hours and 26 minutes
Single-handed Equator to Equator record - 10 Jan 2008 - 41 days, 9 hours and 14 minutes

Vincenzo ONORATO (ITA)

Vincenzo ONORATO and his Mascalzone Latino sailing team claimed a sailing first in 2008 when they won the Rolex Farr40 World Champion title for an unprecedented third consecutive year.

ONORATO has only once not finished on the podium of a Farr40 event in 2008 and his list of accolades includes second place at the prestigious ISAF Offshore Team World Championships in Sardinia and the European title.

The first event for the Mascalzone Latino team in 2008 was Acura Key West Race Week, where ONORATO lead his team to the podium and a silver medal. From Key West to Miami and another silver medal at the Acura Miami Race Week, the team were set for their defence of the World Championship title in April.

After finishing in tenth place at the Pre-Worlds, ONORATO got down to business. Only finishing two races outside the top ten, the Italian team lead the overall standings from day one. In an all Italian showdown for the title on the final day of racing it was to be ONORATO's day. He finished the series 24 points ahead of second placed Joe Fly skippered by Giovanni MASPERO to win his third World Championship.

ONORATO's commitment to the Farr40 class is tireless and his results speak for themselves. The intense, competitive Farr40 racing is not for the faint hearted and the talented Italian wrapped up the nomination period by adding the European crown to his World title at the Rolex Farr40 European Championship in Travemunde, Germany.

2 - Acura Key West Race Week, Key West, USA - Jan 2008
2 - Acura Miami Race Week, Miami, USA - Mar 2008
10 - Rolex Farr40 Pre-Worlds, Miami, USA - Apr 2008
1 - Rolex Farr40 World Championship, Miami, USA - Apr 2008
3 - Audi Farr40 Cup, Sardinia, ITA - Jun 2008
2 - Rolex Sardinia Cup ISAF Team Offshore World Championship, Sardinia, ITA - Jun 2008 (team result)
1 - Farr40 Copenhagen Regatta, Copenhagen, DEN - Jul 2008
1 - Rolex Farr40 European Championship, Travemunde, GER - Aug 2008

1 - Circuit Nordic European Farr40 2008

Ian WILLIAMS (GBR)

Ian WILLIAMS from Great Britain won the 2007 ISAF Match Racing World Championship title after sweeping to victory at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, the final event of the 2007 World Match Racing Tour. WILLIAMS' victory in Malaysia was all the more fitting as he claimed his title by defeating 2006 World Champion Peter GILMOUR (AUS) in the final.

WILLIAMS followed up his world title competing at Grade 2 and 3 events in Europe where he claimed yet more podium positions before returning to the World Match Racing Tour in April 2008. WILLIAMS competed at all five Tour events of the 2008 season which took place within the nomination period and picked up podium finishes at three of them.

The first event of the 2008 Tour was the Brasil Sailing Cup in Vitoria, Brazil and WILLIAMS signalled his intentions from the outset. After leading into the knockout stages he eventually finished third but secured valuable early points on the Tour leadboard. Consistent results from WILLIAMS and Team Pindar and they were at the top of the Tour Standings at the end of the nomination period with a total of 72 points, a cushion of 15 points over their nearest rivals. WILLIAMS rounded off the nomination period with victory at the Danish Open in Frederikshavn.

The city lawyer who left the court house for the race course has become one of the great names on the match racing circuit and has flirted with the # 1 position of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings throughout the nomination period.

6 - Latium Match Cup, Fiumicino, ITA - ISAF Grade W - Sep 2007
12 - King Edward VII Gold Cup, Hamilton, BER - ISAF Grade W - Oct 2007
5 - Brasil Sailing Cup, Vitoria, BRA - ISAF Grade W - Nov 2007
1 - Monsoon Cup, Kuala Terengganu, MAS - ISAF Grade W - Nov 2007
1 - ISAF Match Racing World Championship & World Match Race Tour Winner
1 - RYA Winter Challenge 2, GBR - ISAF Grade 2 - Dec 2007
3 - RYA Winter Challenge 3, GBR - ISAF Grade 2 - Feb 2008
1 - GKSS Ice Breaker, Langedrag, SWE - ISAF Grade 3 - Apr 2008
3 - Brasil Sailing Cup, Vitoria, BRA - ISAF Grade W - Apr 2008
4 - Match Race Germany, Langenargen, GER - ISAF Grade W - May 2008
2 - Korea Match Cup, Jeongok, KOR - ISAF Grade W - Jun 2008
9 - GKSS Match Cup Sweden, Marstrand, SWE - ISAF Grade W - Jun 2008
1 - Danish Open, Frederikshavn, DEN - ISAF Grade W - Aug 2008

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