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Ainslie and Sensini win ISAF Rolex Sailor Awards

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World on 12 Nov 2008
Ben Ainslie in a confident mood before Race 1, 2008 Olympic Regatta © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com

Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Alessandra Sensini (ITA) have just been announced as the winners of the ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards at a dinner in Madrid, Spain.

Ben Ainslie is the current World Champion in the Finn Class and won his third Olympic Gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao. He is a five time World champion in the class and was the defending Olympic Champion.

Alessandra Sensini is also the current World Champion in the Womens RS:X windsurfing class, and won the Silver Medal in the same event at the 2008 Olympics.

From the ISAF website:

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.

Alessandra Sensini (ITA) 2008 Sailing Achievements:
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



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.

Ben Ainslie (GBR) 2008 sailing Achievements:

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

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