Jim Saltonstall was honoured on Thursday night at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, after 30 years during which he has coached some of the greatest names in the sport.
There have been many legendary sailing names to emerge from the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship; names who have gone on to win Olympic gold medals, lift the America's Cup and triumph in the Volvo Ocean Race. Few of them have passed under the radar of British coach Jim Saltonstall, who during 30 years at the championship has made an immeasurable contribution to the youth sailing, first of all in Great Britain and latterly on a worldwide scale. On the occasion of his 30th and final ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, Jim Saltonstall was honoured for his incredible achievements at the event.
Commenting on Jim's achievements, ISAF President Göran Petersson said, 'Jim has inspired countless youth sailors to achieve their best. His energy, passion, dedication and sense of fun are invigorating. Those who have been coached by Jim are fortunate to have benefited from his expertise. ISAF thanks Jim for all he has contributed to youth sailing and youth sailors around the world'.
A message sent from Great Britain's two-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie, an ISAF Youth World Champion during Jim's time as GBR coach, read: 'I just want to say a huge thank you from me and my generation of sailors like Iain Percy and Nick Rogers. Jim you were the guy that got us into international sailing, you got us on the road. Thank you for all your efforts with British sailing and with the international youth here at events like this. You have spent years passing on your knowledge which has made such a huge difference to so many people. Not bad for a Queen's peasant!'
Jim Saltonstall attended his first ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship at Quiberon, France in 1977 as RYA Senior Racing Coach. He continued in that role for 23 years, developing a formidable GBR youth team which won ten individual titles, the best-nation trophy in both 1995 and 1996 and went on to form the nucleus of the British sailing team which topped the medal table at both the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games. His achievements in Great Britain were recognized in the 1997 New Year Honours when he was awarded an MBE for Services to Yachting and to Young People.
In 2002, Jim became the ISAF World Youth Sailing Trust coach, extending the benefit of his vast knowledge and communication skills to the full range of athletes competing at the Youth Worlds. With the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme (APP) introduced in 2003, Jim's brief was expanded to support the sailors selected for the APP and since that time he has mentored more than 123 sailors from 41 nations. The success of Jim and the APP was amply demonstrated this year by Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus, who first appeared at the Youth Worlds in 2004 on the APP, and this year won his second Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship title.
Reflecting on his 30 years at the Youth Worlds, Jim said, 'I look back at all that time and it's been marvellous to see so many of those sailors who've been through the Youth Worlds to go on to the Olympic platform and the America's Cup platform and go on to be successful. That is the job satisfaction of being the ISAF Youth Coach as well as the GBR Youth Coach. I'll sadly miss it, I really will. It's been awesome.'
Knut Frostad, CEO of Volvo Ocean Race, the title sponsor of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, paid tribute to Jim's contribution to the sport, 'Volvo would like to recognize Jim's achievements and thank him for all his hard work over the years not only at the Youth Worlds but for sailing in general. From his coaching of the young 'ferrets' as Jim has always called them, to the Olympic team's success at the Games through to his big boat campaigning he has done it all! He has coached our sailing super stars for the past 30 years and has helped the greatest names in sailing to reach the podium throughout his long career. His input will be very much missed.'
Fiona Barron, ISAF Vice-President, presented Jim with a silver sail as a gift from the International Sailing Federation, the World Youth Sailing Trust and the youth sailors of the world. She said, 'Jim's expertise in coaching youth sailors, combined with his infectious enthusiasm, energy and sense of humour are guaranteed to inspire and make a difference. I am sure all of you here will have learnt many new skills either as a result of Jim's direct coaching or through the post race debriefs.'
After 30 years, today will mark Jim Saltonstall's final day at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. During those 30 years many champions have been born and thousands of young sailors have benefited from his coaching expertise. All through this week in Århus his video debriefings have been standing room only, as they are at every championship.
'If I had my life to live again I'd have done exactly the same again,' Jim said. 'It's been a fantastic experience for me and at the end of this week it's going to be pretty sad really, an end of an era.'