Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year and Young Sailor of the Year are deserving winners


Not too many years ago the Yachting Journalists’ Association was consumed with bitter squabbling about the provision of what became known as ‘the warm glass of wine at the Boat Show’. It was Pythonesque, no question about it, but that was the line in the sand; beyond that the association would clearly be eating into its freeborn rights.

Now look: the Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year lunch today in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (the hall, not the lunch), and where 201 years ago Nelson’s body was laid in a catafalque (ditto).

It’s an amazing place, and appropriately enough, this year’s candidates for the award were all true sailing heroes. Sir Knox-Johnston just pipped Mike Golding and Geoff Holt, taking the trophy for an unprecedented third time.

He first won it for his non-stop solo circumnavigation in Suhaili in 1969, then again for his record round the world time in Enza with Sir Peter Blake and now for his solo race in the Velux 5 Oceans – the first, the fastest and the not-quite-but-nearly-oldest. Extraordinary.

Here, Robin is pictured with 12-year-old Laurence Greenough, a Topper sailor who lost a leg in a boating accident two years ago and won the Raymarine Young Yachtsman of the Year Award for his brave return to sailing. Laurence is a confident chap, doesn’t claim to have world-girdling ambitions but would just like to race a 29er, a boat his club in Plymouth won’t fund.

Someone out there surely can help young Laurence, can’t they? He says he loves going out on the wire.