Perfect storm of excellence

Published on November 29th, 2021

It was a perfect storm of events with the America’s Cup, Olympic Games, and Vendee Globe occurring together. There was a lot of greatness on display with the nominees for the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award all worthy candidates… difficult to rise above the others.

The 2021 awards cover the two-year period from September 2019 to August 2021 in what has been an immensely challenging time for everyone, with the selection of award recipients to be equally shared by public vote and nine person jury

The jury – Jo Aleh (NZL), Dee Caffari (GBR), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), Santiago Lange (ARG), Craig Leweck (USA), Luca Rizzotti (ITA), Shirley Robertson (GBR), Yann Rocherieux (FRA), and Theresa Zabell (ESP) – have submitted their votes.

The online poll will remain open until 10:00 am ET on December 2, 2021. Here are the candidates:


Clarisse Crémer (FRA)
Completing the Vendée Globe – the single-handed, solo, non-stop round the world yacht race – is a major accomplishment, but Crémer, one of only six women in the 2021 field of 33 starters, shattered the women’s record in both the solo and open categories set in 2001 by Ellen MacArthur (GBR) in the same race.

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA)
Maintaining dominance is no easy feat, but that was the task for this duo following their gold medal at Rio 2016. As runners-up for the 2019 World title, and 12th in their last elite competition prior to Tokyo 2020, they had just 17 months to prepare for the Games. After finishing 15th in their first race in Enoshima, they leaned on their experience and found their groove to claim gold again in the women’s skiff 49er FX competition.

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR)
Mills considered a 49erFX campaign before setting out with a new teammate to repeat her Rio 2016 gold in the 470. The route was not always smooth, but placing second and fifth at the 2021 European and World Championships set them up for a dominating performance to win gold at Tokyo 2020. The 2020 Olympic result now makes Hannah Mills the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time. This was Eilidh McIntyre’s first Olympic gold, following in the footsteps of her father who won gold in the Star class at the 1988 Games.

Daniela Moroz (USA)
Nobody has dominated a discipline during the qualifying period of the World Sailing Awards like Moroz, who has set the standard for women through the entire evolution of kite competition. With gold at the 2019 World Beach Games contributing to her recognition in 2020 as US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, she stamped her authority on the Formula Kite Class by steamrolling the fleets in the 2021 European and World Championships, her fifth world title. Her ability is now being applied as a member of the United States SailGP Team.

Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN)
After securing bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Rindom went on to secure second and fourth at the 2020 European and World Championships respectively. But it was at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that she showed her true character – overcoming a rare starting penalty to win gold. She is now a member of the Denmark SailGP Team.


Kiran Badloe (NED)
The Netherlands have had a stranglehold on the men’s Olympic RS:X Windsurfing event, with Badloe offering little opportunity for others to stand above him on the podium. Within the 2021 World Sailing Awards qualifying period, he won three RS:X world titles on his road to Tokyo 2020, and then secured Olympic gold. Badloe also won the 2020 iQFOil European Championship – newcomer sport to the Olympic Games, débuting at Paris 2024.

Yannick Bestaven (FRA)
The rapid design evolution of the IMOCA had eight of the newest breed on the start line for the Vendée Globe 2020-21, but it was Bestaven and his earlier generation yacht that toppled the fleet of 33 starters for the win in 80:03:44:46. But before he claimed victory in the solo non-stop round the world race, the 48-year-old took part in the rescue of Kevin Escoffier whose boat effectively broke in two off the tip of South Africa, and who most likely would have died if not for the selflessness of Bestaven and others.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL)
When the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were delayed, the carefully laid out schedule for this team suddenly became an impressive juggling act with the America’s Cup. While they followed up their Rio 2016 gold medal with wins at the 2019 and 2020 World Championships – and then successfully defended the America’s Cup – they dipped out of a second Olympic gold after a thrilling final race in Tokyo to secure silver.

Giles Scott (GBR)
Balancing his duties with the British Sailing Team for Tokyo 2020, and as tactician for the INEOS TEAM UK America’s Cup, Giles Scott had his hands full to repeat his gold medal winning performance in Rio 2016. Ahead of Tokyo 2020, he turned his full focus to the Finn Class, and after finishing ninth in the 2021 class world championship prior to the Games, Scott exerted his will on the fleet in Enoshima winning over half the races to take gold.

Tom Slingsby (AUS)
Slingsby is one of the most successful sailors in the world, with Olympic gold at London 2012, nine World championships, the America’s Cup and numerous world records set, in addition to being crowned 2010 World Sailor of the Year. He has since been exerting his excellence among active Olympians in the Moth Class, bulleting nearly every race to claim the past two World titles – including winning the 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race on the 100-foot Comanche – and has been setting the standard in the global sports league, earning the season 1 title and now as leader of season 2.

To cast your vote, click here.

The World Sailing Awards 2021 show will be live online from 3:00pm ET on December 2, 2021.

Previous recipients of the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award:
2019 Marco Gradoni (ITA), Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN)
2018 Pavlos Kontides (CYP), Carolijn Brouwer (NED) / Marie Riou (FRA)
2017 Peter Burling (NZL), Marit Bouwmeester (NED)
2016 Santiago Lange (ARG), Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark (GBR).
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)

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