Tonight in Barcelona, ISAF announced Russell COUTTS (SUI) and Siren SUNDBY (NOR) as the winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2003, in recognition of outstanding sailing achievement between September 2002 and September 2003.
Record breaking America's Cup skipper Russell COUTTS was honoured in respect of his victory as skipper of Alinghi in the 2003 America's Cup. With the victory, Russell became the all time winning skipper in the America's Cup Match. He won 14 races without a loss, adding the five wins of 2003 to the nine he earned with Team New Zealand in the 1995 and 2000 campaigns, surpassing Dennis Conner for total victories and Charlie Barr for most without a loss. His third consecutive America's Cup victory ties him with Harold VANDERBILT and Charlie BARR. Alinghi also became the only syndicate to have won the America's Cup on it's first attempt.
Winning and Coutts go hand in hand. From his early days competing at the ISAF Youth Worlds, to winning medals at the Olympic Games and sailing on the world match racing circuit, Coutts has always been on top.
On being presented with the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year trophy by SAR La Infanta Cristina Duquesa de Palma, Russell commented:
"It is a great pleasure and an honour for me to be awarded with the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award trophy. I would like to extend this victory to all the members of Team Alinghi, who have also earned this award.
"May it be, rather than an achievement, a source of inspiration for the younger generation of sailors.
Siren SUNDBY of Norway was awarded the female trophy for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2003 in recognition of her successes in the Europe Class.
At just 20 years of age, Siren has reached the top of her discipline, surpassing the rest of the fleet to claim many Championship titles over the past twelve months. The pinnacle being the 2003 ISAF World Championship in Cadiz, which she won with a race to spare having sat in a medal position from the outset.
Opening the nomination period with a Silver Medal at the 2002 Europe Class World Championship, Siren sailed outstandingly through the year placing first in all but three of the ISAF Graded events she entered, and never finishing outside the top three in the remainder.
Siren has been amongst the world's top ten ranked Europe sailors since last year, with her upwards climb sealed in May 2003 as she broke into the top three, before claiming the world's number one slot in August, briefly dropping to two in September, and reclaiming pole position in October 2003.
On receiving the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award from His Majesty King Constantine, ISAF President of Honour, Siren SUNDBY commented:
"This is a fantastic honour and a great factor of motivation and inspiration, I am overwhelmed!
The awards presentation was hosted by renowned sailor Paul CAYARD (USA), and attended by more than four hundred guests, including international sailors and prominent personalities from the sailing world.