75-year-old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was recently named British yachtsman of the year by the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) at a prestigious awards ceremony sponsored for the first time by boats.com. The awards were presented by Ian Atkins, president of boats.com and Bob Fisher, chairman of the YJA, at a gala ceremony at Trinity House in London.
Sir Robin’s outstanding sailing exploits impressed the country’s foremost sailing journalists, as members of the YJA voted him the eventual winner.
At the age of 75, Sir Robin’s achievements last year culminated in an astonishing third in class finish in the renowned Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race. This is the fourth time the Portsmouth based sailor has been crowned Yachtsman of the Year – the first dates back to 1969, when he famously became the first person to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation.
Accepting his award, Sir Robin said, “At last I've caught up with Sir Ben Ainslie having now won my fourth award. The other two nominees have performed fantastically and both deserved to win so I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.”
Windsurfer Emma Wilson from Christchurch in Dorset, the current youth world champion, was named the boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year at the same awards ceremony.
Emma’s string of world and European windsurfing title wins last year convinced YJA members that she was a worthy winner. Still only 15, she won both the under-17 and under-19 world championship titles in Clearwater, USA, last October, to add to her European under-17 win earlier in the year.
Emma commented, “It feels amazing to have won. I'd like to thank my coaches and everyone who voted for me, as well as my family for all their support. I didn't think I was going to win the Youth World Windsurfing Championship but everything seemed to come together for me in October last year. It's really nice to be following in the footsteps of the previous winners and who knows hopefully I'll get to go to the Olympics in 2020.”
As well as the two main awards, there was also a special Lifetime Achievement Award for Iain Percy, OBE. This recognised his contribution to the enormously successful Bart’s Bash charity initiative to raise funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.
Receiving his award via video-link, Iain commented, “I am very honoured to have been given this award. Bart’s Bash has turned out to be such an amazing event that has already introduced many people to our sport. It is the perfect mix of racing, family and fun which is why I believe it has been so popular.
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