The awards, televised nationally by SBS, recognize the outstanding achievements of athletes, administrators, coaches, businesses, information technology service providers and sports tourism during 2005.
The Access UD-18 was selected in November 2005 by the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) as the equipment for the new Two-Person Keelboat Paralympic event.
Conceived and developed by Access Dinghy Sailing Systems' principal Chris MITCHELL, with design collaboration from renowned Australian skiff designer Julian BETHWAITE, the 5.8 metre long UD-18 is a lead-assisted skiff with asymmetrical spinnaker and hi-tech rig.
Offering stability and safety along with high performance, the boat promises to be an exciting addition to World and Paralympic Competition. Able-bodied and disabled athletes alike will enjoy this innovative craft - and more severely disabled sailors will welcome the ability to compete on an equitable level with the boat's centreline seating and servo-electric control options.
The UD-18 is the latest in the range of Access sailboats developed by MITCHELL. The first of the fleet, the easy to sail Access 2.3 which is now sailed in over 15 countries, was recently elevated to the status of International Class by ISAF.
MITCHELL, in Sydney to accept the award, was delighted with the recognition of his efforts to make sailing a safe, fun and challenging sport and recreation for people of all ages and abilities.
'It is unlikely that we would have achieved such International success without the support of the Federal Government's AusIndustry programme,' said MITCHELL.
'The support of Government and encouragement from within the sport has enabled Access Dinghies to develop beyond the domestic market and contribute on an international level to making sailing more inclusive,' he said.
Access Dinghy Sailing Systems was supported with its project by the Australian Government through its business unit AusIndustry with an innovation grant to develop the UD-18. AusIndustry delivers a range of more than 30 business products, including innovation grants, tax and duty concessions, small business services, and support for industry competitiveness worth nearly AUS$2 billion each year to about 10,000 small and large businesses.
A number of other award nominees from the sport of sailing were also finalists - Yachting Australia (Information Technology Award), Mark BETHWAITE (Masters Athlete of the Year) and the Australian Youth Sailing Team in the Hobie 16 Class (Young Australian Team of the Year).