Australia's Olympic Gold Medallists have cleaned up the major awards at the 2001 Awards Presentation on 25 May 2001.
The BEA Male Sailor of the Year was awarded to Olympic 470 sailors Tom King & Mark Turnbull. Gold Medallists at the 2000 Olympic Games as well as Australian and World Champions in the 470 class in 2000.
Fellow Olympic 470 sailors, Jenny Armstrong & Belinda Stowell were victorious in the BEA Female Sailor of the Year Award. Armstrong & Stowell joined their male counterparts in winning Gold Medals at the 2000 Olympic Games. Not only did they win Australia's first Olympic Gold Medals in 28 years, but also they made history by becoming Australia's first female sailing medallists.
The courageous undertakings of Melbourne disabled sailor Vinny Lauwers were recognised when he was awarded the P&O Nedlloyd Disabled Sailor of the Year. Lauwers became the first disabled person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the globe. It was a truly remarkable effort by the Victorian paraplegic, and this was recognised by ISAF Vice President, David Kellett, presenting the award on behalf of P&O Nedlloyd. Earlier this week Lauwers achievements were recognised on a worldwide scale when he was announced as the World Sports Person of the Year (disabled).
P&O also sponsored the Youth Sailor of the Year Award, and this was presented to Sydney's Ben Austin. Austin, who late last year achieved a score of 99.45 per cent in his higher school certificate, went on to win a Gold Medal at the 2000 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship.
Volvo Car Australia's Public Affairs Director, Graeme Adam, presented the Volvo Media Award to sailing enthusiast and journalist, Kathy McKenzie of Boating OZ. McKenzie has opened up the lines of communication for sailing, boating and cruising enthusiasts alike through her weekly e-newsletters and website. Boating OZ's coverage is noted for, and popular as a result of, it's unbiased and impartial reporting of events.
In this, the International Year of the Volunteer, three Services to Yachting Awards were presented. William Cheal from Toukley Sailing Club on the Central Coast was recognised for his long and on-going contribution to the sport at club level. Going into his 38th unbroken year as Secretary of the club, Bill is still going strong at 76years of age!
Olympic Sailing Team Manager, John Harrison(QLD), was recognised for his dedication to the management of Australia's Olympic athletes. The Sydney Olympics was John's third Olympic Games as Team Manager and he has set a standard of team management that will be difficult to match.
David Linacre, also a past Olympic Sailing Team Manager, was recognised for his involvement in and contribution to the sport for over 60 years. Having been Commodore of Royal Brighton Yacht Club, President of the Victorian Yachting Council, International Judge, he still actively consults to both the VYC and AYF Racing Rules Committees.
The Awards were judged by an independent Voting Academy consisting of Australian Sailing `Greats' including Nicola Bethwaite, Rob Brown, Glenn Bourke, Vanessa Dudley, Gary Gietz, Kerry Ireland and Jeni Lidgett.
With the depth of talent evident by the standard of finalists in the Sailor of Year award categories, Australian competitive sailing has a bright future. It was announced on the night by Phil Jones, the AYF's Chief Executive Officer, that the Australian Sports Commission has upgraded Sailing to an `A' category sport. This brings us into the category with Swimming, Rowing, Athletics and Cycling. This bodes well for supporting our top-level athletes as well as supporting a structure to bring the emerging talent through.