Sorry Charles, I Was Wrong

Published on November 12th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
I walked up to Charles Caudrelier and apologized, as if I somehow jinxed him. We’d never met, and I suspect he was confused by my grief. He was immensely gracious, with many people offering their condolences. This was the winning skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race, and he’d just lost out on being selected as 2018 Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

It was the awards night at the World Sailing Annual Conference, that occasion on the schedule where everyone gets dressed up. The nominees for the award had been published a month earlier, and I immediately went on the record saying how I’d be shocked if the male and female winners didn’t come from the Dongfeng Race Team that won the 2017-18 edition.

The team had won the most closely fought edition ever, it’s the most respected crewed circumnavigation contest in the sport, it doesn’t happen every year, and this was Charles’ team through and through. I was certain he was a lock. Apparently he was not.

The winner was 2018 Laser World Champion Pavlos Kontides (CYP), who along with his girlfriend, were easily the best dressed duo there. They were ready for the Academy Awards, and he was a very deserving recipient. All the nominees would have been. I just found Charles as the best.

At least I wasn’t completely wrong. Carolijn Brouwer (NED) and Marie Riou (FRA), the first women to win the Volvo Ocean Race, were the female honorees for the 2018 Rolex World Sailor of the Year. They were my pick too, and arguably a no-brainer. It was the second for Carolijn who was honored in 1998 after winning the Europe Worlds.

New in 2018 was the Team of the Year Award which the Dongfeng team did win. This was announced first, which made me immediately nervous about my prediction. No way, I thought, would the best male, female, and team awards go to the same group. But the awards have separate selection committees, as they should to ensure recipients are based on merit and not circumstance.

It is good for World Sailing to have a Team Award, as often the individual awards go to people who are representative of a successful team, rather the individual being the significant reason for the team’s success. With the new award, now the entire team can shine.

Next up is the US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards, and I will be among a panel that seeks to make the hard decision on who will be honored for their 2018 accomplishments. Never an easy task, but always an enjoyable exercise. Have an idea who should be nominated? Look for the nomination period to open soon and submit your suggestion.

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