Top honours claimed at Skandia Team GBR Annual Prize Giving Dinner

Niki Birrell & Alexandra Rickham with the Paralympic Classes Athlete of the Year trophy
Paralympic SKUD stars Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, and quadruple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie snagged top honours at the Skandia Team GBR Annual Prize Giving Dinner, held on Friday, 19th October.

Rickham and Birrell picked up the inaugural RYA Paralympic Classes Athlete of the Year trophy, and the overall Skandia Team GBR Athlete of the Year title following their Paralympic bronze medal-winning performance, a fourth consecutive World Championship title, and one gold and two silver medals on the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit during 2012.

Meanwhile Ainslie, who this summer became the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, claimed the British Olympic Association’s Athlete of the Year Trophy for Sailing, for the third time and the second consecutive year. In addition to his fourth Olympic gold, Ainslie also claimed the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth time on his home waters in Falmouth this year as well as a gold and a silver on the World Cup circuit.

Skandia Team GBR sailors, coaches, support staff, sponsors and special guests congregated at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard to celebrate the successes of the British Sailing Team during 2012 and throughout the four-year cycle.

Hosted by record-breaking round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari, both team sailors and support staff were honoured at the black tie event, with the first awards of the evening going to the winners of the ‘Accenture Rewards and Recognition Programme’ for 2012.

Now in its seventh year, this incentive scheme, backed by team silver sponsor Accenture, encourages Skandia Team GBR sailors and support staff to vote to decide which among them had this year best displayed one of three of the team’s core values of ‘Committed to Excellence’, ‘Passion’ and ‘Gold Driven’. Cash awards of £1,500 were up for grabs for the each of the category winners, and £500 each for the runners-up and the top-voted Development Squad sailor in each category.

RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park picked up the overall prize for ‘Committed to Excellence’, while Steve Gent, Skandia Team GBR’s Strength and Conditioning Coach was awarded the overall prize for ‘Passion’ – both winners for the second year running.

Olympic Laser Radial sailor Alison Young was voted as the most ‘Gold Driven’ of the team, while 470 European Champion Sophie Ainsworth swept the board with the Development Squad prizes in all three categories, plus the honour of being voted by her peers as the overall Skandia Team GBR Development Squad Sailor of the Year.

Sophie Ainsworth collects the Development Squad Sailor of the Year prize.

The ‘Golden Funnel’ award for coaching excellence was presented to SKUD coach Marcus Lynch, while the evening also saw performance bonus cheques handed out to numerous sailors who’d achieved podium success at major regattas during 2012.

Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager, commented: 'This year’s Skandia Team GBR annual awards dinner was a little bigger than usual, as we’re celebrating not only our achievements in 2012 but also across this Olympic cycle and so many people have played a part in those successes.

Park continued: '2012 was a fantastic year for British sport which will live long in the memory, so it’s important for us as a team to take the time to celebrate together, to look back on what was achieved while also hopefully inspiring and motivating some of our younger sailors towards Rio and beyond, and to them achieving their dreams as well.'

Ben Ainslie added: 'The awards evening’s a great way to bring the whole team together. I think what people don’t see is all the hard work that goes on in the background making it happen – all the support staff, coaches and administrative staff.

Ben Ainslie with the BOA Athlete of the Year for Sailing trophy

'It’s a huge team and this evening’s a great way to really celebrate that and say thank you to everyone for all the support.'
Full list of winners:

RYA Paralympic Classes Athlete of the Year and overall Skandia Team GBR Athlete of the Year: Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (SKUD)

British Olympic Association Athlete of the Year for Sailing: Ben Ainslie (Finn)
Skandia Team GBR Development Squad Sailor of the Year: Sophie Ainsworth (470)
Accenture Rewards and Recognition Programme:

'Committed to Excellence'

Winner: Stephen Park (RYA Olympic Manager)
Runner Up: Paul Mullan (Head of Sports Science)
Development Squad winner: Sophie Ainsworth (470)

'Passion'

Winner: Steve Gent (Strength and Conditioning Coach)
Runner-up: Ali Young (Laser Radial)
Development Squad winner: Sophie Ainsworth (470)

'Gold Driven'

Winner: Ali Young (Laser Radial)
Runner-up: Hannah Mills (470)
Development Squad winner: Sophie Ainsworth (470)

‘Golden Funnel’ Award for Coaching Excellence: Marcus Lynch (SKUD coach)

Performance bonuses presented to:

Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell – SKUD: Bronze, Paralympic Games; Gold, World Championships; Gold, Skandia Sail for Gold

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark – 470: Silver, Olympic Games; Gold, World Championships; Bronze, Skandia Sail for Gold

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson – Star: Silver, Olympic Games; Silver, World Championships, Bronze, Skandia Sail for Gold

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell – 470: Silver, Olympic Games; Silver, Skandia Sail for Gold

Ben Ainslie – Finn: Gold, Olympic Games; Gold, World Championships; Silver, Skandia Sail for Gold

Helena Lucas – 2.4mR: Gold, Paralympic Games; Silver, Skandia Sail for Gold

John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas – Sonar: Gold, Skandia Sail for Gold; Bronze, World Championships

Nick Dempsey – RS:X: Silver, Olympic Games; Bronze, Skandia Sail for Gold; Silver, World Championships

Ali Young – Laser Radial: Gold, Skandia Sail for Gold

Giles Scott – Finn: Gold, Skandia Sail for Gold

Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign – 49er: Bronze, Skandia Sail for Gold

Sophie Weguelin an Sophie Ainsworth – 470: Gold, European Championships

Ben Saxton and Richard Mason – 470: Silver, European Championships

Ed Wright – Finn: Silver, World Championships

James Peters and Ed Fitzgerald – 49er: Bronze, European Championships

Skandia Team GBR website
http://www.sail-world.com/103088