2016 Nominee: Santiago Lange

Published on October 31st, 2016

The Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards is the most prestigious award of recognition in the sport of sailing, with five nominees in 2016 under consideration in the Male and Female categories. Meet nominee Santiago Lange…

With age comes experience. He’s been there and done it. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. No one would begrudge him the win. He commands respect.

There are so many clichés that could be thrown around to describe Argentina’s Santiago Lange. And while they all apply, Lange will be the first person to ignore them and say he doesn’t deserve the accolades he has received since winning Rio 2016 Nacra 17 gold, but quite simply, he does.

An instantly likeable person, his down to earth demeanour and gentle persona defy the racer inside that fuelled an Olympic challenge. And it wasn’t just any old campaign. It was one dogged by health issues and counteracted with determination and strength.

A year out from the first Olympic Games on his home continent, Lange’s dream hit a stumbling block. He received the news that no one wants to hear, never mind someone in the midst of a rigorous Olympic campaign on the physically demanding Nacra 17. Lange had cancer.

With a lung removed and the cancer under control, Lange used the one thing he loved more than sailing to get back to fitness. His family. With sons Klaus and Yago competing in the 49er class, Lange regained his strength and stamina with some good healthy competition in the gym and out cycling with his two boys. As well as fitness, there was family bragging rights at stake.

Back up to speed health wise, Lange returned to competition with Cecilia Carranza Saroli in the mixed class. Top place finishes were hard to come by upon his return with the Australians and French taking a stranglehold on the fleet. But that only made the underdog story all the more real.

In the first Olympic outing for the Nacra 17, Lange used his experience, something often underrated in Olympic sailing, to control the field and build a score that edged him closer, day by day, to the coveted gold medal.

The Rio 2016 Medal Race seemed to encapsulate and echo a four-year journey for the Argentinean. Struggle, determination and then success. Lange and Carranza Saroli survived two penalties and fought up to sixth place to claim the gold medal by a single point.

In an outburst of emotion, quite fittingly shared with his sons who had swum to meet their champion father and partner, Lange drank in every moment. There was a happy ending to the fairy tale story of the Olympic Games.

The announcement of the 2016 Rolex World Sailors of the Year will be made on Tuesday November 8 in Barcelona, Spain, the host city of the World Sailing’s 2016 Annual Conference. The nominees in 2016 are:

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL)
Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO)
Santiago Lange (ARG)
Giles Scott (GBR)
Damien Seguin (FRA)

Marit Bouwmeester (NED)
Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG)
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA)
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR)
Charline Picon (FRA)

Previous recipients of the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award include:
2015 Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (NZL), Sarah Ayton (GBR)
2014 James Spithill (AUS), Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze (BRA)
2013 Mat Belcher (AUS), Jo Aleh & Polly Powrie (NZL)
2012 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Lijia Xu (CHN)
2011 Iker Martinez & Xabier Fernandez (ESP), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
2010 Tom Slingsby (AUS), Blanca Manchon (ESP)
2009 Torben Grael (BRA), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
2008 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Alessandra Sensini (ITA)
2007 Ed Baird (USA), Claire Leroy (FRA)
2006 Mike Sanderson (NZL), Paige Railey (USA)
2005 Fernando Echavarri & Anton Paz (ESP), Ellen MacArthur (GBR)
2004 Robert Scheidt (BRA), Sofia Bekatorou & Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE)
2003 Russell Coutts (SUI), Siren Sundby (NOR)
2002 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Sofia Bekatorou & Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE)
2001 Robert Scheidt (BRA), Ellen MacArthur (GBR)
2000 Mark Reynolds & Magnus Liljedahl (USA), Shirley Robertson (GBR)
1999 Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), Margriet Matthijse (NED)
1998 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Carolijn Brouwer (NED)
1997 Pete Goss (GBR), Ruslana Taran & Elena Pakholchik (UKR)
1996 Jochen Schümann (GER), Lai Shan Lee (HKG)
1995 Russell Coutts (NZL), Isabelle Autissier (FRA)
1994 Peter Blake (NZL) & Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR), Theresa Zabell (ESP)

Source: Richard Aspland – World Sailing

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