Record breaking solo round the world yachtswoman, Emma RICHARDS, announced Sophie LUTHER as the winner of the Pindar Sailing Scholarship.
Sophie, 23, from London was selected from over 500 entries worldwide as the winner of the competition and will now begin her lifelong dream to become an ocean racing star. Sophie will get to sail alongside Emma RICHARDS learning and competing on the world stage and participating in some of the leading ocean races as part of an intensive three year sailing programme.
Due to the exceptionally high standard of candidates the judging panel also announced three further candidates from the final 10 that it wanted to recognise as highly commendable: James BIRD, Jeffrey LAMONT and Sean MCCARTER.
Pindar launched the competition in December beginning a worldwide search to find a new member to add to its already distinguished sailing team.
The competition, which was open to anyone between the ages of 16 - 23, began with hopefuls having to submit a 250 word entry. A final 20 were then selected to attend a semi finals day in London where they undertook a series of tests and interviews in order for a panel to choose the final 10.
The selection of the eventual winner was based on the candidates' performance over two days of water-based activities in Portsmouth. Each finalist had, amongst other challenges, the opportunity to sail the Open 60, Pindar AlphaGraphics, and race dinghies as well as give a 5 minute presentation on their 'other life' outside of sailing.
The competition was set up in conjunction with the RYA who will oversee the training process and the HSBC Education Trust, for whom Emma works as an ambassador.
Andrew PINDAR, Chairman of Pindar said: "All along the high calibre of candidates has made the decisions for the judges very difficult. Whilst we have picked one winner, I hope that we can maintain an ongoing relationship with all the Final 10 as I have greatly enjoyed getting to know each of them throughout the competition. Sophie is a worthy winner and I know will prove to be a valuable asset to our team; I couldn't be more delighted to welcome them to Pindar."
Emma RICHARDS said: "I have been overwhelmed by the talent and determination of each one of the finalists. It has been harder than we ever expected to make our decision, however we were only able to pick one winner and I look forward to working with Sophie as she becomes the newest addition to our team. We have a hectic schedule for the summer, which will be a great way for her to start the Pindar Scholarship."
Sophie LUTHER said: "This whole competition has been the most amazing experience. I never thought that when I sent my entry in six months ago that I would have made it here but I couldn't be more delighted and I can't wait to get started."
The ten finalists included:-
James BIRD from Hamble, Southampton
Lucy BURN from Warsash, Southampton
Hannah JENNER from Bursledon, Southampton
Hannah WHITE from Lymington
Sean MCCARTER from Plymouth, Devon
Sophie LUTHER from New Eltham, London
Lara CAINE from Salcombe, South Devon
Tara THOMAS from Maryland, USA
Jeffrey LAMONT from New London, USA
Servane ESCOFFIER from St. Malo, France