by Craig Heydon
The exceptional year for Australia’s Olympic and Paralympic sailing medallists has continued at the 2012 Australian Yachting Awards, winning a number of awards on Friday night in Sydney. Following a successful year on the water, members of Australia’s London 2012 sailing team have taken home the Male, Female and Disabled Sailor of the Year Awards.
Sailor of the Year with a Disability Award winners Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch - Australian Yachting Awards
For the first time since 2002 there were joint winners in the Male Sailor of the Year category, with Olympic gold medallists Mathew Belcher, Malcolm Page, Tom Slingsby, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen rewarded for their domination of their respective classes.
All three crews won gold at London 2012, along with their 2011 and 2012 World Championships, and a number of ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds.
For Tom Slingsby it was a third Male Sailor of the Year Award and Malcolm Page a second, while for Mathew Belcher, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen it was the first time they had won the award.
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty won the Female Sailor of the Year Award, following their silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Price, Curtis and Whitty were Australia’s youngest crew at London 2012, also winning medals at three ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds during the year. 2012 was the second time that Curtis and Whitty had won the award.
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch made it back-to-back wins in the Disabled Sailor of the Year category. The pair won gold in the Skud 18 class at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, continuing their great run together since teaming up at the beginning of 2011.
Fitzgibbon is the most successful sailor in the category at the Australian Yachting Awards, winning the title for a record fifth time.
Mark Spearman was named as the OAMPS Insurance Brokers Youth Sailor of the Year, following his win in the Laser Radial class at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship.
Yachting Australia President David Gotze presented the President’s Award to Andrew Plympton, recognising him for his continued contribution to the sport.
Michael Fletcher received a Lifetime Achievement, having been involved in the sport for more than 60 years in a range of capacities, including a number of the country’s most famous sailing victories.
The Sport Professional Award was given to Australian Sailing Team High Performance Director Peter Conde, following a very successful year for the team, culminating in four gold and a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships were named as the Sport Promotion Award winner, having raised the profile of the sport during the event.
There were two recipients in the Volunteer Award category with Lyn Wallace and John Middleton being rewarded for their ongoing efforts.
A special presentation was made by the SOLAS Trust, recognising Grant Dunoon and his crew of Trybooking.com for their efforts to rescue fellow sailors during a race in April this year.
Dunoon and crew Peter Ffecht, Ross Fischer and Kim Walker battled huge swells and gusts of up to 70 knots in the middle of the night to rescue six survivors from the yacht Inception which sunk during the Melbourne to Port Fairy Yacht Race.
More than 230 guests attended the event at the Byron Kennedy Hall in the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park, Sydney.
Joining the finalists on the night were guests including Federal Sports Minister, the Honorable Kate Lundy MP, Shadow Minister for Youth and Sport, the Honorable Luke Hartsuyker, New South Wales Minister for Sport and Recreation, the Honorable Graham Annelsey, and members of the board and staff of the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Olympic Committee.
For more information on the event visit www.yachting.org.au/awards.