The Sailors of the Year 2023 have been announced by World Sailing at their annual ceremony. The event also handed out awards for sailing team of the year, boat of the year and more
The popular choices were decided by both an expert panel and a public vote, with Australian America’s Cup and SailGP skipper Slingsby separated from his nearest fellow nominee by a winning margin of fewer than 20 votes.
This is the third time Tom Slingsby has been named male Rolex World Sailor of the Year. After steering his Australian SailGP Team to a third consecutive title in the foiling racing series, he remains the only skipper to have won the SailGP trophy. A multiple world champion in dinghy classes, he is also skipper of American Magic, who won the first Preliminary event in the 37th America’s Cup cycle earlier this year, and will be challenging for the Cup next year in Barcelona.
Slingsby said: “I’m super humbled to be in this position. Previously when I’ve won this award, it’s been after a Laser world title or a Moth world title but this time it was purely sailing with teams.
“American Magic have had a rough journey so far in their America’s Cup campaign but it feels like we’re really turning a chapter and there are really exciting things to come.
“And then with the Australian SailGP team, these are some of my oldest and best friends in the world and I’m so fortunate to go sailing with them and I’d be nothing without those guys behind me.”
South African Kirsten Neuschäfer is the female 2023 Rolex World Sailor of the Year, after becoming the first woman to win a solo or non-stop around the world race when she finished first in the ‘retro’ solo Golden Globe Race earlier this year. Neuschäfer is famously diverted course to pluck fellow Golden Globe Race competitor Tapio Lehtinen after Lehtinen’s boat sank and he spent 24 hours adrift in the southern Indian Ocean.
Via video message, Neuschäfer said: “It’s such an incredible honour to be a nominee among such amazing, acclaimed and iconic sailors, but to win this award, to be given this recognition by such an esteemed panel of judges and by the public means so, so much to me. Thank-you to everyone who has believed in me and cheered me on.”
Sailing team of the year, sustainability, and Beppe Croce Trophy
The 11th Hour Racing Team, skippered by Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Charlie Enright, won the 2022-23 Ocean Race, becoming the first American team to win the crewed round the world race (formerly the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race) and also the first non-French team to win an IMOCA round the world race. The had very mixed fortunes in the race – struggling with damage early on before finding consistent form.
The American team also shared their spare rig with Guyot environment, which enabled the French team to stay in the competition, before – in a dramatic twist of fate – Guyot environment crashed into 11th Hour Racing at the start of the final stage. 11th Hour Racing were awarded redress which sealed the overall race win.
The team also had a strong sustainability agenda, with a number of initiatives to improve ocean health and carbon tracking during their race yacht build.
The Magenta Project won the 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award.
Dick Rose received the Beppe Croce Trophy for his dedication to the Racing Rules of Sailing which has spanned over thirty years, and the President’s Development Award went to the Andrew Simpson Foundation. The foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, having been started in memory of Olympic gold medal winner and America’s Cup winner Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson MBE who tragically passed away during a training accident in 2013 aged just 26.
AC40 named boat of the year
The AC40 was named Boat of the Year, the foiling one-design, created by Emirates Team New Zealand, will be used for two Preliminary events in the America’s Cup cycle before being the race boat for the Youth America’s Cup and first ever Women’s America’s Cup next year. The innovative and technologically advanced yacht features self-tacking headsails and an autopilot control system that maintains stable flight.
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