Double Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ayton was the recipient of the second Above and Beyond Award presented by Land Rover in Saint Petersburg this morning by Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador, Hannah White, in recognition of her engagement with the grassroots sailing community.
Land Rover Brand Ambassador, Hannah White (left) presents double Olympic Gold Medallist, Sarah Ayton with the Above and Beyond Award in recognition of her work with young sailors to inspire Olympians of the future.
The Above and Beyond Award is awarded to the team or individual who demonstrates the finest examples of skill, sportsmanship and strength of mind at each of the Extreme Sailing Series™ Acts, in the true spirit of Land Rover’s Above and Beyond.
Sarah Ayton in action onboard The Wave, Muscat. - Extreme Sailing Series Act 4 2014
Ayton, who won Olympic Gold for Great Britain in the Yngling class at both the Sydney and Beijing Olympic Games, is the Tactician for The Wave, Muscat, and in St Petersburg is the only female sailor in the 12-strong fleet of 60 elite-level sailors.
The Above and Beyond committee is chaired by adventurer Hannah White, joined by America’s Cup Sailor and former winner of the Extreme Sailing Series™, Dave Carr; Race Director, Phil Lawrence and Event Director, Andy Tourell.
The citation states, 'Sarah Ayton continually inspires the next generation of sailors and at every Extreme Sailing Series™ Act she has proactively engaged with the young, aspiring sailors who visit the Series to come and meet their heroes as seen here at the ‘Chat with Champions’ with the children from the St Petersburg Yacht Club. Sarah is also extremely well respected by the international sailing community and is competing at the very top of her game.'
Commenting on her win, Ayton said, 'I was six years old when I first started sailing and I was really lucky when I was growing up and my parents gave me opportunities. We are a non sailing family and I tried loads of sports and then I had a go at sailing. I was very lucky, my parents made huge sacrifices to make that happen and I am a great believer we need to be providing opportunities and as professional sailors we need to inspire and engage with the next generation. I’m just a normal person, I had a dream and worked hard and I went on to achieve some pretty exceptional things.
'Do I notice being the only woman? No, it’s a professional sport, I work hard to keep my place on the boat, I go to the gym a lot and I add to the team as well. On the water, you are a crew member and that’s the way it is.
'I haven’t yet taken my children sailing, at the moment they are playing loads of other sports I am giving them that opportunity, when they are six or seven I’ll get the Optimist out and we’ll see how it goes!'
The Award was presented on the final day of the fourth Act of the global Extreme Sailing Series™ circuit which has seen spectacular racing on the River Neva in the heart of the historic city of St Petersburg. Swiss team Alinghi won their third Act of the year, beating The Wave, Muscat into second place and Emirates Team New Zealand in third. Alinghi now leads the overall Series leaderboard as the circuit moves to Cardiff, UK for the fifth Act from 22-25 August 2014.