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World Sailor of the Year Awards—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 13 Nov 2013
Jo Aleh, Polly Powrie and Matt Belcher - 2013 Rolex ISAF World Sailor of the Year, Oman © Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo
This week’s sailing news is being driven by the announcement that Australian Matthew Belcher and the Kiwi duo of Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie were awarded the prestigious ISAF World Sailor of the Year Awards at a recent dinner that was held at Turtle Beach, in the Sultanate of Oman. These awards are considered the highest recognition that a sailor can receive for his or her racecourse achievements. In the case of this year’s recipients, the competition was fierce, but the sailors’ achievements were impressive.

'It’s a complete honor,' said Belcher, who was given his award due to his domination in the Men’s 470 class, and who has won his last 17 consecutive regattas. 'It's great recognition for this year and the efforts we’ve put in and the results we’ve achieved. I am very fortunate to have great support, from my coach Victor Kovalenko, crew and support staff.'

As for the women, it’s safe to say that Aleh and Powrie were equally humbled by their awards. 'I’m a little bit shocked,' said Aleh, who won the award with Powrie due to their work in the Women’s 470 class. 'There were some amazing nominees this year and we are delighted to be part of this. We feel honored to be part of the group.'

Get the full scoop, inside this issue.

Meanwhile, after a month of delays and waiting, the fleet that’s competing in this year’s Mini Transat race is in the final countdown to begin their 3,600-mile nonstop push from Sada, Spain to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe. This will be the longest leg in the history of the Mini Transat, and it is sure to deliver a host of logistical and tactical challenges.

'I'm obviously happy,' said Alan Roura, the skipper of 'Navman'. 'At the same time, I feel a mixture of feelings ranging from concentration and pleasure to a little apprehension. It's not easy to know how we will sail in the strong wind, even though I know the boat is strong.'

Get the full report from the Mini Transat, inside, and stay tuned to the website for more racecourse news, once the sailing (finally) begins.

Also offshore-related, the sailors racing in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre have encountered lumpy weather and stiff competition as they make the 5,450-mile push from Le Havre, France to Itajaí, Brazil. Competition has been especially thick in the IMOCA 60 class, where Bernard Stamm and Philippe Legros, aboard 'Cheminees Poujoulat' are leading the pack, closely followed by 'PRB' (Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam), 'Safran' (Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidegorry), 'Maitre CoQ' (Jeremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt) and 'MACIF' (Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux).

It was the Multi 50 class of trimarans that grabbed headlines, however, as 'Arkema – Aquitaine' (Lalou Roucayrol and Mayeul Riffet) capsized earlier this week. Fortunately, both sailors are fine, but they are still a long way from solid ground.

'We are sitting here in our new 'loft' waiting for the tow boat to get here to take us and it should be here in the middle of the night,' reported Riffet. 'We dived a bit yesterday and tried to cut away some of the rigging, mast and boom. We are going to wait for the divers to arrive and will be able to work out depending on the sea state whether we try and turn the boat over or not.'

Inside, get the full TJV report, including the damage-report roll call from the fleet, and stay tuned to the website for the latest news from this Transatlantic event, as it unfurls.

Also inside, get the latest news from the VX One North Americans, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the upcoming Laser Worlds (November 17-23).

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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