The BEA Male Sailor of the Year Award is to be shared for the first time since the introduction of the title in 1996.
The joint winners are Double Contender Class World Champion Arthur Brett and Tornado Catamaran Olympic Silver Medallists Darren Bundock and John Forbes. This follows the discovery of an error in one of the nominations and open reconsideration by the Voting Academy of all the original finalists.
The Award was initially presented to Darren Bundock and John Forbes at a gala dinner in Sydney on 8 June. Darren and John were nominated by the Yachting Association of NSW. As stated in the Conditions relating to the awards, all nominators are required to list performances in the period 1 April 2001 to 1 April 2002. The YANSW mistakenly included the 2001 Tornado World Championship, an event that actually took place in February 2001. When initially making the Award to Darren and John the Voting Academy took into account this and other performances.
On learning of the error, Darren and John immediately offered to hand back the Award to allow the Voting Academy to reconsider all the finalists with the correct information to hand. "We were not aware who nominated us, or of the time period. We also understood the situation in which the Voting Academy and the Federation had been placed", explains John, "This is a very prestigious award and the integrity must be maintained. Whilst we were very honoured to have had our achievements recognised by our peers, clearly the Voting Academy had to be in a position to carry out a fair and open evaluation with all the facts to hand. We felt handing it back was just the right thing to do."
On reconsideration, the Voting Academy was unable to separate the outstanding performance of single handed sailor Arthur Brett in winning back to back World Championships in the International Contender Class from the achievements of Darren and John, who maintained their international dominance of the modified Olympic Catamaran Class including a victory at the European Championships.
"I can see the problem that the academy faced", said Arthur on being made aware that he was to be a joint recipient, "All the finalists are outstanding sailors and anyone could have won. I was not at all surprised when Darren and John took the Award on the night. However, I am delighted and honoured to be recognised in this way. I would also like to express my thanks to Darren and John for the way they have handled themselves. Their action and sportsmanship has enabled the integrity of the Awards to be maintained."
Other finalists for the 2002 BEA Male Sailor of the Year Award included A-Class Catamaran World Champion Steve Brewin, Round-the-World yachtsman Tony Mowbray, and Moth World Champion Mark Thorpe.
The AYF are very grateful to the Voting Academy who, through no fault of their own, have faced a considerable additional workload, meeting twice to reconsider the winner of Male Sailor of the Year Award. The Voting Academy for the 2001-2002 Awards was Vanessa Dudley, Gary Gietz, Kerry Ireland, Jeni Lidgett, Vinny Lauwers, Tom King and Roger Hickman.
The AYF are considering changes to the nomination process that will avoid such a situation arising again. "This has been very difficult for all those involved", says AYF CEO Phil Jones, "Clearly we cannot assume that information provided by nominating groups will necessarily be accurate. We will now be considering asking nominees to sign off on their own nominations. In this way they will then have the opportunity to verify the details provided. We will also be looking at our own procedures in verifying the information provided."
The AYF would like to congratulate Arthur Brett on becoming a recipient of the Award, which will be formally presented to him in due course. Darren Bundock and John Forbes are to be commended for their conduct in relation to this unfortunate incident and of course, as the joint recipients of the BEA Male Sailors of the Year.