The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Australia's premier ocean racing club, this week will announce its Ocean Racer of the Year Awards, recognising excellence in four categories of ocean racing.
Over the years, the Award winners have included many of the nation's outstanding sailors and this year's nominations have presented the selection panel with one of the most difficult choices, in particular, for the prestigious Ocean Racer of the Year.
The four categories are Ocean Racing Crewperson, Ocean Racing Rookie, Ocean Racing Veteran and Ocean Racer of the Year.
The CYCA's Ocean Racing Crewperson award goes to a non-professional crewperson who has, by their deeds, provided enormous assistance to an owner in order to go ocean racing.
The CYCA Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year goes to an owner of a yacht who is new to the ocean racing program and has shown promise in the sport and has achieved some good results.
The CYCA Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year goes to an owner or an excelling crewperson who falls into the category of being a veteran and has achieved results that the CYCA selection panel considers noteworthy.
The CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year is the most prestigious award given by the CYCA to an individual. It is awarded to an owner of an ocean racing yacht that has excelled above the others in the previous year.
The mechanism of evaluation for the awards is such that all ocean racing, both locally and internationally, is looked at and points on a weighted scale are allocated for various successes in sailing.
The weighting favours performances in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the CYCA's own Blue Water, Tasman and Cape Byron Championships.
The Judging Panel also takes into account all other races and regattas that the nominations list. These include the Australian Offshore Championship, Hamilton Island Race Week, Hogs Breath Airlie Beach Regatta, Sailing South Race Week, the Rolex Trophy Series and Sail Victoria Race Week.
International events include the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Admiral's Cup and the Giraglia Rolex Cup - the list goes on and on - are all taken into account.
The selection panel also looks at line honours successes, along with handicap results, and individual performances as well as teams' events.
This year, as with most years of this long-standing award, the selection process has been a difficult one in the evaluation of all categories, especially the Ocean Racer of the Year award.
The CYCA panel has received many nominations for this award.
Three yachtsmen this year that stand out as having achieved outstanding results for themselves, their crews and their countries over the past year - ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Neville CRICHTON with Alfa Romeo, Bob STTEL with Quest and Bob OATLEY with Wild Oats.
Neville CRICHTON won the IRC division of last year's British Trophy Series, then went on to take line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race before campaigning his Reichel/Pugh 90 Alfa Romeo in Europe with unprecedented success, including taking line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Giragalia Cup and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The Sydney-based New Zealander recently was named New Zealand Yachtsman of the Year.
Bob STEEL has had a long list of handicap wins with his Nelson/Marek 46 Quest in Australia's major ocean racing events and offshore regattas, including the CYCA Blue Water Championship 2002-2003, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2002, the 2003 Australian IRC Offshore Championship and IMS and IRC Division 1 of the 2003 Sydney Moolooloolaba Race.
Bob OATLEY has enjoyed major successes in Australia and internationally with his Reichel/Pugh 60-footer Wild Oats, the first yacht built in Australia with a canting keel. Making its debut at the 2002 Hamilton Island Race Week, Wild Oats won the highly competitive IRC Division, then took line honours in record time in the 2003 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race, also winning the IRC Division on handicap.Wild Oats then headed the winning Australian team from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at the Admiral's Cup in England in July, also being topscoring individual yacht for the international series.
The Awards presentation will be held at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this coming Wednesday 17 December.