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9 November 2005, 07:21 am
World's Best Sailors Are Honoured To Be Honoured
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ISAF Rolex World Sailor Of The Year Awards 2005
Singapore

Dame Ellen MACARTHUR of Great Britain and Tornado World Champions Fernando ECHAVARRI ERASUN and Antón PAZ BLANCO of Spain have paid tribute to the international sailing community after being named as winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2005 in Singapore last night.
At the Awards Ceremony in the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel during the ISAF Annual Conference, the three sailors were honoured for their outstanding sailing achievements during the twelve months to 31 August 2005, when MACARTHUR completed her record-breaking solo sprint around the world in her maxi-trimaran B&Q and ECHAVARRI and PAZ were crowned Tornado World and European Champions after a string of strong performances.

'I would like to say thank you to ISAF, its sponsor and its members for this Award,' said MACARTHUR, who is currently racing in the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabres with her friend Roland 'Bilou' JOURDAIN (FRA) on the Open 60 Sill et Veolia.

'I was fortunate enough to have received this Award in 2001 and it is as much of a surprise and honour to me now as it was back then. The International Sailing Federation provides a great service to the world of sailing, by utilizing the 117 member nations it continues to promote sailing by raising its profile and encouraging as many people as possible to become involved in this sport. I would also like to congratulate the other sailors who have been nominated for the Female Award. They are at the forefront of their own sailing discipline and I feel privileged to be nominated along side them.'

MACARTHUR was keen to emphasize the importance of participation in youth sailing, an issue that has been a key feature of this year's ISAF Annual Conference, saying, 'It's also great to hear about the focus on youth which has been discussed at the ISAF meetings this week. Youth are our future and the sport must ensure it can deliver to young people and keep them as inspired and passionate by our sport as we are. It is good to see ISAF taking this initiative and implementing plans in the future to make this happen.'

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Ellen MACARTHUR put
sailing on the front pages in
2005
© Benoit Stichelbaut/DPPI/
Offshore Challenges

When on 7 February this year, she carved a unique place in history by crossing the finishing line off the coast of Brittany to set a new single-handed round the world non-stop record, MACARTHUR cemented her place as one of the world's most recognizable sailors and already through her achievements has helped bring sailing to a new generation of youngsters. She sliced more than a day off Francis JOYON's (FRA) time set in 2004, to finish in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds, achieving an average speed of 12.66 knots over the 27,354 nautical mile course.

Tornado sailors Fernando ECHAVARRI and Antón PAZ have enjoyed 2005, hitting the top of their form after victory at the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta, which they followed with the ISAF Grade W Tornado World Championship title and then victory at the ISAF Grade C1 Tornado European Championship in France and Sweden respectively. After such a fantastic run it was no surprise to see the pair rise to the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings on 29 June.

ECHAVARRI, 33, and PAZ, 29, started racing Tornadoes together in 1997 after starting their careers in Lasers and Europes respectively. By the Olympic Games in 2004, they had worked their way into the world's top ten, though a disappointing performance in Athens, where they finished in eighth place, proved a turning point in their fortunes.

'We made many mistakes at the Olympics but learned so much about ourselves,' said ECHAVARRI.'It made us realize that we had to take things step-by-step so we have worked hard on our concentration in pressure situations and as a result have made fewer mistakes and have become more confident about our possibilities. This is what has made the difference this year.

'We also work well as a team,' he added.

'On the water my strengths lie in making the boat go faster while Anton is athletic and particularly good in strong winds. Off the water, I deal with the sponsors and do a lot of the logistics but Anton does all the day-to-day hard work to keep the boat well prepared.

'We are also good friends - you have to be to deal with the pressures and stress of top level competition. We know each other well and understand the importance of talking things through, whether they are good things or bad.'

Their sponsors may have opened up new big boat opportunities for both ECHAVARRI and PAZ but in the short term, their focus lies in maintaining their number one world ranking in the Tornado class and winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

'We are trying not to think too much about the Olympics. They are three years away. We know there is a lot of work to do so are still taking things step by step.'

Winning the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award came a complete surprise to the pair but they say, it is the best thing that has ever happened to them.

'All the people that were nominated for this award are incredible sailors. We have grown up in awe at some of the names on this list so to win makes us feel very lucky and very proud. It is a great honour. Now, it'll be very cool to read our names in the list. The achievements of our 2005 season will not be forgotten.

'We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the ISAF and Rolex. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, Galician Sailing Federation, Athlete Help Programme and our main sponsor Movistar.

'Right now, Spain is on top of sailing thanks to events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the America's Cup. The fact that a Spanish Olympic crew has now won the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award will certainly help to further promote the sport.'

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Göran PETERSSON along with
the two male winners
© Jonathon Drake/
Getty Images
According to ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE), the Federation and Rolex took pride in recognizing and honouring great sailing endeavours with the World Sailor of the Year prize.

'This has been another outstanding year for the sport of sailing where our winners have set new benchmark levels in performance and endurance. Ellen MACARTHUR continues to astound the world with her remarkable achievements in single-handed racing and we are delighted to recognize her exploits once again with the female ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.

'These awards were designed to mark true excellence in world sailing and it is a sign of the high regard and respect they command, that the list of nominees for 2005 reads like a sailor's hall of fame. The achievements of Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton Paz, the first Spaniards to win the male awards, demonstrate an unwavering commitment to success by both the Spanish sailing authorities and the sailors themselves. Their inspirational rise to the top this year is a testament not only to their talent but also to their focus, hard work and commitment. It is a success that is richly deserved.'

Sofia BEKATOROU (GRE), 470 gold medallist at the Athens Olympics who shared the female ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards in 2004 with her crew Emilia TSOULFA, said winning the award for the second time last year had proved one of the most important moments in her career.

'Each year the award becomes more prestigious so it is becoming more of a dream for sailors to win it,' she commented.

'Being the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year means you are at the very top of your game. It means that people believe in you and like you and for any sailor competing at any level, that gives a lot of confidence.

'For me, winning the award meant I had moved to another level, almost into an elite group. It gave me the confidence to try more and realize that although you can achieve certain goals, there is always one step further you can go.'

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The nominees in Singapore (left to right): Antón
PAZ, Fernando ECHAVARRI, Bruno PEYRON,
Blanca MANCHÓN, Rohan VEAL, Finian
MAYNARD, Claire LEROY and Peter GILMOUR
© Jonathon Drake/Getty Images
The Awards Presentation at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore was hosted by distinguished triple Olympic medallist and multiple World Champion Alessandra SENSINI of Italy and attended by more than 500 guests from 50 nations, including international sailors and prominent personalities from the sailing world, such as World Sailor nominees Peter GILMOUR (AUS), Finian MAYNARD (IVB), Blanca MANCHÓN (ESP), Claire LEROY (FRA), Bruno PEYRON (FRA) and Rohan VEAL (AUS). Presenting the Awards were ISAF President of Honour HM King Constantine and Claudio MARIANI of Rolex Singapore.

The winners were each presented with a Rolex timepiece and the marble and silver World Sailor Trophy - a solid marble sphere depicting the world and crowned by five silver spinnakers representing the continents.

The other nominees for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2005 were:

Female

Claire LEROY (FRA)
Blanca MANCHÓN (ESP)
Paige RAILEY (USA)

Male

Peter GILMOUR (AUS)
Finian MAYNARD (IVB)
Bruno PEYRON (FRA)
Vincent RIOU (FRA)
Rohan VEAL (AUS)

Look out for a full story on the Awards Presentation and Dinner on www.sailing.org today.

For all the news on the ISAF Annual Conference CLICK HERE.

Regatta News. Image, Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ lift the World Sailor Trophy with host Alessandra SENSINI and HM King Constantine alongside:© Jonathan Drake/Getty Images
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