Two Australians and one New Zealander have won coveted awards at the Annual International Sail Training & Tall Ships Conference last month in Aalborg in Denmark. Other awards went to individuals and ships from countries as wide ranging as Oman, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Mexico and Finland.
Tall ships always make a great spectacle, but it’s the training they give to young sailors that adds so much value
The Sail Training International (STI) annual awards are made to organisations and individuals worldwide who have been selected for their outstanding contributions, during the past year, to our aims and ethos.
STI's annual conference is the only global conference for sail training. Its range of tailored programmes and presentations aim to meet the needs and interests of sail training programme providers, ports already contracted to host a Sail Training International event, trainees and other key stakeholders.
Sail Trainer of the Year:
Sail Training Captain Sarah Robinson
The award for Sail Trainer of the Year (over 25years) was awarded to West Australia's Captain Sarah Robinson, and accepted, in her absence by Steve Moss, the country rep for Australia.
Sarah started aboard T S Royalist aged 14 and went on to sail aboard the Endeavour replica from UK to America where she worked her way up from trainee to second officer. After passing her STCW deck officer certificates at Warsash Nautical College she returned to Endeavour for two years as part of the full time relief crew and then went on to join Leeuwin II as Chief Officer - then a stint as Chief Officer aboard Spirit of Bermuda - before returning to Leeuwin II as Captain.
In the time she has been in command of Leeuwin II thousands of Western Australian young people have benefitted from sailing with her and left the ship enriched. Amongst these have been young people who are ‘at risk’ and trainees who have sensory and intellectual limitations. She undertakes her work in a very friendly and approachable manner, and always with a brilliant sense of humour. Award donated by the family and friends of the late Captain Paul Canter and is awarded to a professional sail trainer.
Sail Training Volunteer of the Year:
Robyn Elkington, with the award also accepted by Steve Moss.
Sail training volunteer Robyn Elkington
Presented to a volunteer who has made an extraordinary contribution to the organisation they serve, Robyn is the longest serving volunteer with the Australian organisation, South Passage – Adventure Under Sail, having started since its incorporation in 1992.
During this time she has fulfilled virtually every role within the association including serving on the management committee, being a sailing master, a watch leader, a crew recruiter, a maintenance coordinator, an office administrator, a marketing coordinator and a cook. Her enthusiasm for the ideals of sail training has been immensely valued including her seven years as an AUSTA board member. She has developed to be the glue that holds the organisation together. Award donated by the Black Pearl Sail Training Trust in the US in memory of Barclay Warburton III, founder of the American Sail Training Association.
Janka Bielak Medal:
Nigel Wright, of New Zealand, with the award accepted by Stephen Fisher, Chairman Spirit of Adventure Trust
Janka was Polish by birth, spent much of the Second World War as a girl in prison camps before eventually fleeing after the war to Britain. In the 1970s, during the Cold War, she almost single-handedly persuaded the Russian, Polish and other Eastern European ships to join our fleet for the summer races. The Janka Bielak Medal is awarded to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to international understanding and friendship through sail training and we are delighted to be able to present this special award to two remarkable individuals who have followed in her footsteps.
Sail training Janka Bielak Medal Nigel Wright
Paul Bishop, Race Director, Sail Training International said, 'Nigel did a great job in the first international Tall Ships Regatta in the southern hemisphere last month. He and his crew led the international fleet from the Bay of Islands to Auckland via Great Barrier Island setting up an informal, but excellent crew programme. It was a team effort but behind every excellent team is an excellent leader.
'Gunn is another person who has made an outstanding contribution to international understanding and friendship through sail training over many years. She has been a sail training Class B skipper; a member of the sailing committee, a Trustee for STI and the Tall Ships Races T-shirt distributer.'