2016 Nominee: Cecilia Carranza Saroli

Published on November 2nd, 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 Cecilia Carranza Saroli…

When you’re sailing in a team you have to perform different roles inside and outside of the boat. For Argentina’s Cecilia Carranza Saroli she became the ultimate team mate in an Olympic campaign that could have been so different. But you have to go through the bad to savour the good.

Having sailed in the Laser Radial at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, Saroli decided to make the switch and compete with a partner for the Rio 2016 Olympiad. The newly introduced mixed Multihull class, the Nacra 17, presented a new opportunity for Saroli, providing her with a new dimension of Olympic campaigning.

Making the change from a one-person dinghy to two-person multihull was always going to be a challenge but Saroli would face more emotions than most. Support, heartache, team work, and in the end, triumph. She would taste it all.

Partner Santiago Lange’s story has been widely spread. Cancer in 2015, a return to health and then Olympic gold. But while Lange’s is undoubtedly an inspiring story, it is important to remember that the Nacra 17 is sailed by two people with the same dream. When something happens to put that dream on hold, it happens to them both.

As Lange was undergoing treatment and subsequently getting back to fitness, Saroli had to put her Olympic dream on hold. Instead of sharpening her boat skills with her partner, she had to do the most important job of all. Support. Not in the boat. But out of it in everyday life.

Some things are more important in life than even sailing. And health is one of those. Saroli waited and supported patiently in the ultimate test of a partnership. She could have easily given up on her Olympic dream or moved on to another partner. But she did neither.

When it came to Lange’s return the pair worked their way through the rigours of the physical class, testing, training and working on their rhythm before moving on to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

It was in South America where the dream began and finished. Argentina to Brazil. Taking the strength and determination their time out of the boat had given them, they began down a dream path to Olympic gold.

Experience was the buzz word for the two Argentinean sailors. Marrying her own Olympic experience with Lange’s in a class making its Olympic debut, they sailed to the top of the leaderboard heading in to the Medal Race. They then took the experience of the previous year, determination and strength, to clinch gold from the face of defeat when they had two penalty turns against them.

Saroli and Lange had done it. They had won gold in one of the stories of the 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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