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17 February 2005, 09:46 am
Sailing Takes Centre Stage at NSW Sports Awards
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Yachting Australia News
Sydney, Australia

Sailing took centre stage at the Sydney SuperDome last night, winning three of the NSW Annual Sports Awards in the: Event of the Year, Junior Athlete of the Year, and Team of the Year categories.
Hosted by the NSW Sports Federation, 18 awards were presented to celebrate and reward the achievements of athletes, administrators, coaches, media, officials, organisations and volunteers in NSW.

The Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race beat the AAMI Ladies Australian Open and the Qantas National Talent Identification Championships to win Event of the Year. The ocean race celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2004 with a starting fleet of 116 boats. On receiving the award CYCA Commodore Martin James thanked the volunteers, staff and sponsors who had 'made it all possible.'

Team of the Year went to 470 duo Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE who won both the 420 and 470 World Championship titles in 2004. Together since 2001, they met when Nathan was just five and Malcolm was coaching him in the junior boats. Currently ranked fifth in the world, the pair have their sights set on another Olympic campaign but Page says they 'plan to take it easy in 2005, just like Ian THORPE.'

It was a bittersweet victory for the Junior Athlete of the Year, Nathan OUTTERIDGE. 2004 was golden for Australian sailing's rising star: he won the double-handed dinghy boys title in the 420 at the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Poland for the third consecutive year, the 420 title at Kiele Woche and was second at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds. Yet in a horrible reversal of fortune he was injured in a car crash this year shattering one of his vertebrae. Following intensive surgery Nathan emerged from hospital last week wearing a brace; he is noticeably weaker, 14 kilograms lighter and yet has the same steely resolve of an elite athlete.

Outteridge is determined to make a full recovery and he believes it may be his toughest challenge yet stating: 'if I can get past breaking my back then I can get past anything.' It will be a slow road to recovery; with another nine weeks in a brace he is taking his return to sailing one step at a time: next week he will get a remote control sailboat.

Yachting NSW nominated the event and sailors for their awards and according to General Manager Andrew HAMILTON: ' it is wonderful to see sailing receiving the recognition it richly deserves.'

The Annual NSW Sports Federation Sports Awards were established in 1994. The aim of the awards is to recognise, reward and promote the outstanding achievements of the NSW athletes, sports administrators, coaches, media, officials, organisations and volunteers.

Yachting NSW nominated the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for the 'Event of the Year' category.

Sarah Robson/Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended by ISAF)
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