The British Olympic medal winners have won the YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award

The British Olympic team turned up in full force this morning at the opening day of the London International Boatshow at Excel. Not only did the two Sarahs (Aryton and Webb) gold medallist in the Yngling class perform the official boat show opening on the central stage, but the entire team of medal winners were jointly crowed Yachting Journalists’ Association/Raymarine Yachtsman of the Year. Collectively they won five medals in Athens, and for the second successive time positioned Great Britain as the top sailing nation at the Games.

The nine-strong medal-winning team included Ben Ainslie OBE (Gold in the Finn Singlehander Class), Shirley Robertson OBE, Sarah Ayton MBE and Sarah Webb MBE (Gold in the Women’s Yngling Keelboat Class), Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield (Silver in the 470 Class), Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks (Bronze in the 49er Class), and Nick Dempsey (Bronze in the Mistral Windsurfing Class).

The Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year Award was won by Nick Thompson, the youngest male sailor in the RYA Olympic Development Squad. Proving he can compete with the best Laser sailors in the world, in 2004 he sailed in a succession of grade 1 events throughout Europe in the gold fleet, surpassing all expectations. Some of his many accolades include Gold medallist at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2004 in Poland in the Laser Class; 6th Laser Nationals (1st youth in the Senior Olympic fleet); 1st RYA National Youth Championship; Sports Scholarship to Exeter University; Michael Austin Harlick Award Winner (Outstanding Sports Person in Hampshire); and nominated for BBC South 2004 Young Sportsman of the Year. Nick was also Young Sailor of the Year in 1999 after winning the Optimist European championship that year.

Barry Pickthall, Chairman of the Yachting Journalist’s Association, presented Mark Turner, the manager behind Ellen MacArthur’s many sailing exploits, with a YJA Special Award in recognition of his services to yachting and the promotion of the sport.