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6 May 2008, 11:56 am
Winners Announced At Australian Yachting Awards
Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON with The Hon. Kate ELLIS, Federal Minister for Sport
Elise RECHICHI, centre, and Tessa PARKINSON, left, with The Hon. Kate ELLIS, Federal Minister for Sport

Yachting Australia News

Australia's Olympic Laser and Women's 470 representatives were recognized with Australian sailing's most prestigious honours at the Australian Yachting Awards in Sydney.
The Male Sailor Of The Year 2008 was awarded to back-to-back World Laser Champion and NSW Central Coast local Tom SLINGSBY, while the Female Sailors Of The Year honour was awarded to the Women's 470 team of Perth sailors Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON. SLINGSBY, RECHICHI and PARKINSON are part of the Australian Sailing Team aiming to match their sport's best ever Olympic result of four medals when they compete in China later this year.

The Australian Yachting Awards were attended by 11 former Olympic sailing medallists, including Colin BEASHEL and Tom KING, and current Australian Sailing Team members Iain MURRAY and Andrew PALFREY (Star), Karyn GOJNICH (Yngling), Ben AUSTIN and Nathan OUTTERIDGE (49er) and Malcolm PAGE (Men's 470) who will all soon depart for European regattas before arriving in Qingdao for the Olympic Games.

SLINGSBY was honoured for a remarkable year of achievements which have seen him rise to #1 in the Laser ISAF World Sailing Rankings. The 23 year old retained the Laser World Champion title on his home waters of Terrigal in January, having won the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Portugal. He also won gold at the Laser European Championships, claimed silver at the Sydney International Regatta, brought home a bronze medal from the Princess Sofia Trophy and finished fourth at the Olympic Sailing Test Event in 2007.

At 22 and 21 years of age, RECHICHI and PARKINSON are the youngest members of the Australian Sailing Team (AST). They have made major contributions to the AST's medal haul, winning gold at the Olympic Sailing Test Event and bronze at the 2008 World Championship in the Women's Two Person Dinghy, the 470. Their results are impressive given the pair have had to overcome a series of injuries and illness in the past two years.

The Sailor With A Disability Award was shared by Brisbane's Dan FITZGIBBON and Perth's Rachael COX, who recently moved to Brisbane to train with FITZGIBBON. With just one month of training, FITZGIBBON and COX won Gold at the SKUD International Championships. The pair went on to compete in the IFDS World Championships where they finished a respectable fifth in a chartered boat and without the advanced technologies enjoyed by other competitors. FITZGIBBON is a quadriplegic and COX is classed as an incomplete tetraplegic with partial spinal cord damage. They have won selection for the 2008 Australian Paralympic Team in the SKUD18, which is the Two Person Keelboat class for the Paralympic Games to be held in Qingdao, 6 -17 September 2008.

The OAMPS Insurance Brokers Youth Sailor Of The Year 2008 is Gabrielle KING. Seventeen year old KING was crowned both the 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion and the Women's 2008 Laser Radial Youth World Champion, won the NSW Youth Championships and both the 2007 and 2008 OAMPS Insurance Brokers Australian Youth Championships. Hailing from Maclean NSW, KING has been selected for the 2008 OAMPS Insurance Brokers Youth Team and will be heading to Denmark in July to defend her Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship title.

Tasmania's Murray JONES was named Volunteer Of The Year for his dedication to all areas of sailing. A prominent youth and team racing coach, JONES has coached Australia's Team Racing team at the World Championships three times. He is also an active member of the Management Committee of the Tasmanian Yachting Association, Yachting Australia's Team Racing Committee and Director of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. JONES also turns his hand successfully to umpiring, running regular rules seminars and is the Race Officer at club races and championships.

The Sport Professional Award 2008 was presented to Sydney's John ANDERSON OAM. The 1972 Star Class Olympic gold medallist became a talented player in the sail making industry with North Sails. A consultant to yacht owners as an IOR Optimiser, ANDERSON became highly sought after for his technical advice. He took on the role of Development and Technical Officer for Yachting NSW in 1982 and has been one of the lead technicians through many offshore rating systems as they evolved: IOR, IMS, CHS and IRC. Anderson has also taken on roles within youth development, training and events to share his knowledge and skills with new generations of Australian sailors.

Yachting Australia's Lifetime Achievement Award 2008 was presented to Perth's Graeme OWENS and Melbourne's Harry TEDSTONE.

As an international judge, the Royal Perth Yacht Club's Graeme Owens has dedicated himself to ensuring sailboat racing is run correctly and to the highest standards. OWENS has been a member and Chairman of numerous committees over the past 50 years, including Yachting Australia's Racing Rules Committee, Race Officials Committee, National Judges Sub-Committee, National Umpires Sub-Committee and Appeals Review Committee, Yachting Western Australia's Racing Rules Committee, Executive Committee and the President of two State Class Associations. OWENS is a prolific author and wrote the original ISAF Call Book for Umpiring as well as the Umpiring and Match Racing Manual. He has educated others within all these areas of the sport and done it all on a voluntary basis.

Harry TEDSTONE has contributed to the sport of yachting since he was a young man and has been an active member of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club for 56 years. As a passionate participant in the sport, TEDSTONE won three Australian titles and numerous State titles. However, it is his efforts to ensure others maximise their enjoyment of the sport which is most impressive. He has more than 30 years experience as a Race Officer across all aspects of race management, regatta organisation and administration. In addition, he can be found training and mentoring up-and-coming race officials and young sailors, representing a wide range of classes from Etchells to Sabots and Cadets.

The Sport Promotion Award 2008 went to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. The RGYC boasts a proud history stretching back almost 150 years, over which time it has strongly supported and promoted the sport of sailing and actively marketed the sport to both the sailing and general community. Examples include interactive websites, press and TV coverage and engaging future generations of sailors through many well established programmes such as Come Try Sailing, Adult Introduction to Keelboat Sailing, Youth Training and Sailability. The RGYC hosts a great many regattas, however its pinnacle event, Skandia Geelong Week, has become Australia's largest sailing event due to its appeal across all levels of yachting enthusiasts from beginner to elite performer.

The inaugural President's Award was presented to Audi Australia for their outstanding support of Australian sailing, which includes sponsorship of the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta, the Australian Sailing Team, the Audi IRC Australian Championships, the Cruising Yacht Club Winter Series and the Etchells class.
Nicole Brown
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