2016 Nominee: Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic

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 nominees Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic…

Sports commentators can often be heard using the phrase ‘they have peaked at the right time’. When Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic arrived at Rio 2016 you must have been able to hear the famous phrase in hushed tones. Come medal time, it was being shouted as they took the first ever Olympic sailing gold medal for Croatia in the Men’s 470.

In a slow start to the nomination period, Fantela and Marenic finished 13th in the 470 South American Championship in San Isidro, Argentina. But that was just lulling their rivals in to a false sense of security.

Immediately after and in the same waters of San Isidro, the pair took the lessons learned and applied them to halt the run of great class rivals, Australia’s Mat Belcher and Will Ryan’s run of world titles by taking the 2016 championship.

Falling just outside the medals in the European Championships, the ‘peaking’ began. A win at the Sailing World Cup Hyeres was followed by another Sailing World Cup win, this time at Weymouth and Portland.

Fantela and Marenic must have been brimming with confidence going in to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, although with their humble personalities they would never show it. The long-time friends displayed measured and consistent sailing at a challenging venue to rise above a strong fleet and claim Croatia’s first ever Olympic sailing gold medal. If not for scheduling they would have also boasted Croatia’s first ever Olympic sailing medal, but compatriot Tonci Stipanovic beat them by a mere 24 hours. But that could not change the fact they will now forever be known as Olympic champions.

Although their sailing had peaked at the right time, their friendship continues to peak and undoubtedly parallels their success. As their friendship grows, so does the medal count.

The seeds of success were sown at a young age for the Croatian duo when Marenic moved in with Fantela’s family. At that point a friendship and plot for Olympic success emerged. Growing up with a dominant Australian 470 team who, even with crew changes, were showing no signs of slowing down, the pair had to reach a high level of performance, and more importantly maintain that level when it counted most. In 2016 Fantela and Marenic reached that level and wouldn’t let go until they could call themselves world and Olympic champions. They had peaked at the right time.

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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