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12 July 2006, 12:23 pm
Australian Yachting Award Winners Announced
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Yachting Australia News

Australian Yachting Awards winners in six categories were announced today at a black tie gala dinner held at Doltone House at Pyrmont in Sydney. Luna Rossa helm James SPITHILL was named Male Sailor of the Year, whilst Formula Windsurfing World Champion Allison SHREEVE picked up the female award.
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Presented with their awards by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, in her capacity as Patron of the Gipsy Moth Global Project and Patron of the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA), the winners were as follows:

  • Male Sailor of the Year - James SPITHILL
  • Female Sailor of the Year - Allison SHREEVE
  • Youth Sailor of the Year - Evan WALKER and Kyle LANGFORD
  • Sailor of the Year with a Disability - Paul BORG and Don SCOTT
  • Services to Yachting: Lou ABRAHAMS , Bill JOSELIN and John KIRKJIAN
  • Media - Graeme ADAM .

Winners in the Sailor of the Year categories were once again chosen from a high calibre list of finalists, making it a difficult decision for the judges.

Luna Rossa's Star Man

SPITHILL, who turned 27 just two weeks ago, has achieved more in sailing than most could wish for. One of Australia's most successful young sailors, SPITHILL has raced and won against the best sailors in the world in a variety of boats, from smaller one design match racing yachts, to offshore racing and America's Cup fleet and match racing. He is currently a helmsman with the Italian Luna Rossa syndicate for the America's Cup.

Between the Award dates, June 2005 and March 2006, SPITHILL finished first at the following events: Louis Vuitton Act 5 fleet racing, ISAF Grade 2 The Heat, ISAF Grade 1 King Edward VII Gold Cup, Melges 24 Atlantic Coast Championships, the Melges 24 World Championship and the ISAF Grade 1 Brasil Sailing Cup. His most outstanding performance during the year came with victory at the September 2005 ISAF Match Racing World Championship.

Windsurfing Champion

SHREEVE, a bright and bubbly 24 year old former sail boarding youth champion, has won virtually every Formula Windsurfing event on the international calendar.

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Female Sailor of the Year
© Jeff CROW, Sport the
Library at Sail Melbourne
During this voting period, the 2004 Formula PWA Tour World Champion has continued her winning ways, in 2005 breaking the A Class World Speed Record and winning the Formula Windsurfing European Championship, but as an Australian, could not claim the title.

In 2006, she scored gold in the Women's Australian Formula Windsurfing Championship, winning every race, won the Formula Windsurfing Worlds, the Formula Oceanic Championship and the South American Windsurfing Championship early this year. She has been ranked number one in the World for some time and is a member of the Australian Sailing Team, currently contesting her third Olympic campaign in the new RS:X windsurfer event.

Unable to attend the presentation due to sailing commitments, SHREEVE, who was a finalist in last year's Awards, was represented by proud parents Colin and Glenda, who accepted the award on her behalf.

Rising Stars

For Youth award recipients, WALKER and LANGFORD, the past year has been a busy one. The pair became the first Australians to take gold in the increasingly popular Hobie 16, doing so at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, conducted in Korea last July.

Also holders of the Australian and NSW Youth titles in Hobie class, the talented NSW teenagers also won the NSW Youth Match Racing Championship, finishing runners up at the ISAF Grade 3 Australian Youth Match Racing Championship.

The sailing public heard the names of blind sailors BORG and SCOTT mentioned repeatedly during the past year as they represented Australia at many disabled events.

BORG, from Victoria, steered his way to a win at the 2005 International Match Racing Championships for Blind people in Italy, with Sydney sailor SCOTT crewing. Sailing single-handed, BORG followed up with a win at the 2006 Access 303 (an ISAF Recognized class) Open division in the Australian Access Class Championship in a fleet of sighted sailors.

Over the past three years, SCOTT has crewed his way to many wins including the Homerus Blind Sailing Event in May 2005 and the NSW 2.3 Championship.

Other Awards

Three people with diverse sailing contributions were awarded The Services to Yachting Award, KIRKJIAN and JOSELIN from NSW and ABRAHAMS from Victoria.

KIRKJIAN has put over 20 years work into the sailing community, officiating on committees and holding flag officer positions at sailing clubs. On a voluntary basis, KIRKJIAN, a long term member of the Yachting NSW Racing Rules Committee, is the present chairman of the protest committees at the CYCA and RSYS and chairs protests at number of other clubs when needed.

He is currently Chair of the National Safety Committee, and until recently, represented the CYCA on the Yachting NSW Special Regulations Committee.

JOSELIN, who built and sailed his own boats as a youth, switched from 16 foot skiffs to windsurfing in the 1980's, becoming successful in the Windsurfer One Designs.

He gave up racing in the late 1980's, dedicating his time to developing windsurfing in NSW, filling numerous administrative roles at the NSW Boardsailing Association.

Seen at all the major windsurfing events, JOSELIN has helped establish policies and guidelines, encouraged the development of clubs, co-ordinated youth training and personally encouraged the involvement and participation in racing of board sailors throughout NSW.

'Mr Windsurfing'

Affectionately called 'Mr Windsurfing' by his charges, JOSELIN, a tireless worker, has been a driving force in NSW windsurfing and is a great role model for all up and coming windsurfers.

ABRAHAMS, a world renowned and respected yachtsman has been a member of Sandringham Yacht Club for over 30 years. He holds the record for skippering his own yachts in the Sydney Hobart race, which he has done since 1965 and has competed in 43 races.

Should he choose to race this year, ABRAHAMS will equal the record for the most Hobart races achieved by a sailor and has twice won the race; in 1983 and 1989, finishing top three on three other occasions.

ABRAHAMS represented Australia four times at the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii, racking up a win as part of the victorious 1981 Australian Team. He has represented Australia twice at the Admiral's Cup and was appointed Team Manager for the fatal 1979 Cup

Throughout, ABRAHAMS has been actively involved in making a significant contribution to the future of the sport, including assisting young sailors to compete in championship events at National and International levels and providing others the opportunity to crew on his boat at top level events. His company Louisco currently sponsors one of the SYC Youth Academy yachts.

A Past Commodore and Life Member of Sandringham Yacht Club, Lou was Club Person of the Year in 2003 and has won many yachting awards. In recognition of his commitment to sailing he was awarded in 2002 the Commonwealth Medal for Services to Sailing.

Media Award

ADAM has, over the past 18 months, made a big difference in his public relations role for disabled sailing. His voluntary role has been of particular benefit to Sailability NSW, the Australian Access Dinghy Class Association and generally across Australia, promoting competitive and recreational Access Dinghy Sailing, getting the message across that 'sailing is for everyone'.

His coverage of the sport has included the launch of the Access Liberty, the SKUD18 selection as the Two-Person Keelboat for the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition, Sailabration Day - celebrating ten years of Sailability NSW and the Australian and International Access Dinghy Championships at Docklands in January 2006.

Winners were announced to a packed room, including dignitaries Her Excellency Professor Marie BASHIR, Governor of New South Wales and Sir Nicholas SHEHADIE, Rt Hon Helen LIDDELL (British High Commissioner) and Dr Alistair LIDDELL, Concetta FIERRAVANTI - WELLS (Senator for New South Wales) and Sandra NORI (NSW Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation), Australian Olympic Committee President, John COATES and Yachting Australia President, Andrew PLYMPTON.

Yachting Australia and the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA) joined forces to host the Gipsy Moth Royal Gala Dinner and the Australian Yachting Awards 2006.

The Annual Awards recognise those who have achieved outstanding success in the sport during the 2005-2006 year, as well as those who have contributed to sport over many years.

Lara WATTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Male Sailor of the Year James SPITHILL:© Wander ROBERTO/Brasil Sailing Cup
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