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13 July 2006, 10:52 am
SPITHILL And SHREEVE Win Australian Yachting Awards
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Yachting Australia News

Formula Windsurfing World Champion Allison SHREEVE and Luna Rossa America's Cup helmsman James SPITHILL took out the main categories at the Australian Yachting Awards last night at a black tie gala dinner held in Sydney.
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Unable to attend due to sailing commitments in Europe, SHREEVE sent a taped video response to be used if she were to win the Australian Female Sailor of the Year Award.

'I know I had tough competition for this award and I congratulate the other finalists. I would especially like to thank Yachting Australia and the coaches for their support,' the eloquent 24 year old from Sydney said, going on to thank others including the Australian and NSW Institute of Sport and her sponsors and, 'my lovely family'.

SHREEVE's proud parents Colin and Glenda were in attendance, with her mother accepting the award from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, on her daughter's behalf. 'I am proud of my daughter, she is passionate about everything she does - she puts her heart and sole into everything and represents Australia very proudly.'

Fortunately, SPITHILL was able to steal a couple of days away from his busy schedule in Valencia, Spain, where the Luna Rossa syndicate has been based for the past couple of years to accept the Male Sailor of the Year Award, knocking out fellow match racer Peter GILMOUR and two multiple World Champion crews.

SPITHILL's Speech

The 27 year old, from Sydney's Northern Beaches, also thanked Yachting Australia and congratulated his fellow nominees, going on to say, 'It makes you feel very proud to be an Australian when you look at some of the other people who won awards here tonight, especially those who won the Services to Yachting - these people put in an enormous amount of work for our sport.'

SPITHILL's proud parents Arthur and Jenny, along with younger brother and up and coming match racer Tommy SPITHILL, also attended the Awards. Younger sister Katie SPITHILL was away contesting a match racing event having recently been the first Australian female to win an ISAF Grade 1 event.

The Other Winners

All winners were 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, other winners included:

  • 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

Perhaps the best speech of the night came from blind sailor, BORG. Accepting his award from the Princess, the Victorian, after making his thanks quipped, 'I would have liked to invite Royalty out on a blind date, but you're not allowed to do that sort of thing these days!'

On a more series note, BORG told the assembled throng, 'Make the best of your life, you never know what's around the corner - you may be disabled yourself some day. Don't take life for granted.'

Accepting his Youth Sailor award, WALKER spoke on behalf of himself and LANGFORD, 'We thank Yachting Australia and would particularly like to thank the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Jenni BONNITCHA and our coach Craig FERRIS. He gave us the belief in ourselves.'

Big Names Turn Out

Her Excellency Professor Marie BASHIR, Governor of New South Wales and Concetta FIERRAVANTI - WELLS (Senator for New South Wales) shared the duty of announcing the winners.

Other dignitaries attending the evening were ISAF Vice-President David KELLETT and his wife Kendi, Sir Nicholas SHEHADIE, Rt Hon Helen LIDDELL (British High Commissioner) and Dr Alistair LIDDELL and Sandra NORI (NSW Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation), Yachting Australia President, Andrew PLYMPTON, Sir James HARDY and his wife Lady Joan, David GREEN representing the Gipsy Moth project, yachting luminary Syd FISCHER and Australian Sailing Team supporters Martin and Lisa HILL and many other sailing movers and shakers.

Channel 7's Mark BERETTA was master of ceremonies for the event which was a joint venture between Yachting Australia and the United Kingdom Sailing Academy.

Money Raised For Gipsy Moth

During the evening, attendees dug deep during the auctions held to raise some funds for the Gipsy Moth project. The project is re-enacting Sir Francis CHICHESTER's (GBR) remarkable solo circumnavigation from 40 years ago and is giving young people the opportunity to be involved in recreating history. CHICHESTER's ground breaking yacht returned to Sydney Harbour last Sunday crewed by youth from all over the world and was greeted by a huge flotilla.

The historical yacht will spend the next four days moored at the Australian National Maritime Museum where the general public will have the opportunity of going aboard and stepping back in time.

Speaking on her involvement with Gipsy Moth, Scottish girl Elaine CALDWELL (GBR) stole the night. CALDWELL captivated her audience, telling how she came to be aboard the yacht. 'I was homeless and got involved in this project - it's the best thing to happen to me,' she said. She went on to explain she had never before been aboard a boat, describing what it meant to her to get off the streets. Her speech was both poignant and powerful.

The annual Yachting 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.

Nominations are now invited for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2006. CLICK HERE to find out more.

Lara WATTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, James SPITHILL receiving his trophy from HRH The Princess Royal, Senator Concetta FIERRAVANTI-WELLS and Andrew PLYMPTON:© Andrea FRANCOLINI
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