Duos dominate Australian Sailing Awards

Published on October 21st, 2019

Two 470 pairings have dominated the top honours at this year’s Australian Sailing Awards, held at a gala dinner at Sydney’s Sofitel Hotel on October 18, 2019.

Male Sailor of the Year went to Australian Sailing Team veterans Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, while Western Australian pairing Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries took out Female Sailor of the Year.

It is the fourth time Belcher and Ryan have taken out the top award, but their eyes are firmly focused on the 2020 Tokyo Games where they will go in as favourites after a stunning run of victories.

“We’ve had a great year this year, I think we are both just really proud of what we have done together,” said Belcher after receiving the award.

“It is a huge honour and privilege to win this award, but now we are just looking forward to Tokyo. We are completely focused on the Olympic program.”

Both teams had an excellent year, with Belcher and Ryan remaining World Number One throughout the entire nomination period. They dominated their class internationally, as they claimed the 470 World Championships, Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test Event and the World Cup Series events in Marseilles and Enoshima.

For Fremantle Sailing Club’s Jerwood & de Vries, the last 12 months has been their best to date as they qualified Australia a place at the 2020 Olympic Games in the Women’s 470 class. The young team finished 9th place overall at the 470 World Championships and backed this up at the World Cup Series with an impressive second place.

“We’ve been working really hard, and the year we’ve had shows that,” said de Vries. “But we are looking to keep improving and keep working towards our goals for next year.”

In a great sign for the future of sailing, the Youth Sailor of the Year category was hotly contested with three Youth World Championship medalists amongst the finalists. It was another team of two coming out on top, with the New South Wales combo of Will Cooley and Rebecca Hancock taking out this year’s title. The formidable Nacra 15 pairing chalked up a sweep of wins that include the 2019 Hempel Youth Sailing World Championship, Nacra 15 Australian Championship, the Nacra 15 Australian Youth Sailing Championship, Sail Melbourne and Sail Sydney regattas.

Wynyard Yacht Club stalwart Chris Symonds was crowned 2019 Sailor of the Year with a Disability after stringing an impressive run of results that included 1st place at the Hansa 303 Para World Championships.

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club had an excellent night, claiming Club of the Year and the inaugural SheSails Award through members Jan Howard and Mary Holley.

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club were rewarded for 11 percent growth in membership over the past 12 months and other great achievements such as a 107% increase in its Youth Keelboat Program in 2018-19, their coaching programs expanding to three tiers and the club increased the number of girls in the Squad program from zero to 10.

Howard and Holley with strong support of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, created “SHESAILS@NCYC” in 2017 where it quickly grew and became well-known in the Newcastle region. In a true testament to the success of the program, Australian Sailing officially adopted the brand and logo that has now even attracted Hamilton Island as the Major Partner of the program.

The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award went to boat building legend, John McConaghy.

McConaghy started building boats at the age of 12 and went onto become the first yacht builder in the world to use leading edge composite carbon fibre construction technology. After building Moths, Northbridge Seniors, Javelins, 12ft, 16ft & 18ft skiffs – McConaghy teamed with the Oatley family to create Wild Oats and Wild Oats XI that took 80,000 man hours to build.

Full list of Award Winners:

Male Sailor of the Year
Mat Belcher OAM and Will Ryan

Female Sailor of the Year
Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries

Sailor of the Year with a disability
Chris Symonds

Youth Sailor of the Year
Will Cooley and Bec Hancock

Offshore Sailor of the Year
Matt Allen AM

Sport Promotion Award
Ocean Racing Club of Victoria

Sports Professional Award
Debbie Blaauw

Sustainability Award
Ocean Racing Club of Victoria

SheSails Award
Jan Howard and Mary Holley

Volunteer Award
Peter Merritt

Club of the Year
Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club

Official of the Year
Richard Slater

Coach of the Year
Michael Blackburn

Instructor of the Year
Brett Yardley

Source: Australian Sailing

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