Britain's successful team jointly take the YJA top award and their coach is recognised by the Princess Royal.

Britain’s Olympic sailing medallists were presented with the Yachting Journalists’ Association Yachtsman of the Year award by HRH The Princess Royal last night. Gold medallists Ben Ainslie (Laser), Iain Percy (Finn) and Shirley Robertson (Europe), and silver medallists Ian Walker and Mark Covell (Star) and Simon Hiscocks and Ian Barker (49er), the most successful British team to compete in Sydney, were given the premier award, ahead of Adrian Stead and Ellen MacArthur.

The Princess Royal also made a special award of her own, to Royal Yachting Association team coach John Derbyshire, whose “commitment and drive” she said had played key part in the sailing team’s success. So impressive was his preparation, she commented, that ISAF had almost complained of the British sailing team’s professionalism.

She also praised the RYA’s initiatives to encourage, promote and fund youth sailing.

Sam Carter (17) and Robert Graves (13)(pictured here) won the MDL Young Sailor of the Year award. They are part of the youth sailing squad which has been so instrumental in fostering Olympic talent and were paired up by coaches last spring. After training and racing throughout the summer, they won the Cadet World Championships.

The two now go their separate ways, Carter having outgrown the class. He has moved to 420s and has begun training for selection trials with the aim of getting to the Youth Worlds in France this summer. But he admits: “The Olympics would be the absolute goal.”

Graves has teamed up with a new helmsman and will continue in the cadet class. “My dream is to be two-time Cadet World Champion, then win the Olympics and become an RYA coach,” he says.