Some of Britain’s outstanding sailors have been short-listed for the Yachting Journalists’ Association Yachtsman of the Year award and Yound Sailor of the Year Award

Ellen MacArther, Olympic Gold medallists Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy, Powerboat World Champion Steve Curtis and Britain’s America’s Cup team have been short-listed for this year’s YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award.

The focus is also on Britain’s top youth sailors , seven of whom today find themselves short-listed for the YJA Young Sailor of the Year Award supported by MDL. These include 420 class sailor Nic Asher from Lowestoft, World Youth Champions Pippa Wilson from Lymington, Hants and her crew Jenny Marks from Pitsford, Northants, Welsh Optimist Champion Hannah Mills, Laser sailor Giles Scott from Cambridge, and 420 pair Charlotte Savage and Maia Walsh from Edgbaston, Birmingham

These names now go forward to a vote by members of the Yachting Journalists’ Association who represent all disciplines of the sport, and the winners will be announced at noon on 2 January on the opening day of the London International Boat Show.

The YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award is now in its 47th year. The award is presented to the person whose achievement in the past year most justifies the title. It was instigated in 1955 by Sir Max Aitken and has been the premier award in British yachting ever since.

Short-listed nominees

Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell – Following his Gold Medal winning performance in the Finn Class at the Sydney Olympics, Iain Percy from Winchester decided to team up with Steve Mitchell from Weybridge, Surrey for a second Olympic campaign, this time in the very demanding Star keelboat. Remarkably, they won the Spa pre-Olympic Regatta before going on to California to win the Star World Championship in their first year of competing in the class.

Peter Harrison and the GBR Challenge – Cowes, Isle of Wight. It is 15 years since Britain last challenged for the America’s Cup. Harrison and his Team are nominated for picking up the challenge and making the sport of sailing front line news during the Louis Vuitton Challenge Trials.

Ben Ainslie – Lymington, Hampshire. Following his Gold Medal winning performance in the Laser class at the Sydney Olympics, Ben changed up to the Finn single-hander class and in his first year, won the Finn Gold Cup (world championship), European Championship and Greek Pre-Olympic regatta.

Steve Curtis – Southampton, Hampshire. Racing with Bjorn Gjelsten as the ‘Spirit of Norway’ team, this pair drove their 170mph Class 1 powerboat ‘Colorline’ to victory in five national championships, to win the European and World Championship titles, as well as the World Times Trial Championship. This is the fourth time that Curtis has won the World Class 1 title, making him the most successful powerboat racer ever.

Ellen MacArthur – Cowes, Isle of Wight. Winner of the Yachtsman of the Year in 2001, Ellen returned to the sea this year to take outright victory in the Route du Rhum transatlantic race, not only beating her fellow Open 60 rivals, but all the supposedly faster multihulls as well.

YJA Young Sailor of the Year 2002 Award – Supported by MDL recognises the achievement and endeavour by a young sailor in any discipline of the sport. Organised by the Yachting Journalists’ Association in conjunction with the Royal Yachting Association through its 13 regions, it is open to any person under the age of 19 at 31 December 2002.

Short-listed nominees are

Nic Asher (18) – from Lowestoft, Suffolk has enjoyed a remarkable year in the 420 class. Racing with Elliot Willis as his crew (who is too old for nomination) he steered to first place at the Vilamoura Carnival Regatta in Portugal, the Kiel International Regatta, and British Open 420 Selector Trials. Nic also counts second placings at the RYA Youth National Championships and 420 Open World Championship this year – the latter being the highest British placing for eight years.

Giles Scott, (15) – from Cambridge is one of the rising stars in the Laser Class. Giles finished 6th overall in his first Europa event in France before going on to take third place at both the World Radial Championships in Canada and Europeans in Austria. Now a member of the British International training squad, Giles finish first youth in one qualifying event this year, and runner-up in two others. To cap a remarkable year, he also finished first Youth and fourth overall at the recent Laser National Inland Championships.

Charlotte Savage and Maia Walsh (17) – from Edgbaston, Birmingham are members of Britain’s 420 International training squad. They began the year with a fourth at the Vilamoura Carnival Regatta in Portugal and finished first females and third overall at the Youth Nationals. Other results include second females at the 420 National championships, first overall at the Dutch National Championship where they won five of the six races, and a third at the 420 Inland Championships.

Hannah Mills (14) – from Glamorgan, Wales made headlines this year for bending the ear of Tony Blair to back London’s bid for the Olympic Games because she wants to win a Gold Medal in home waters. She has also been making a name for herself in the Optimist class, becoming the first girl on record to win the national title. She went on to finish second girl and ninth overall at the world championship in Texas – the second best British result ever and best ever for a girl. To cap an exceptional season, she also finished second overall in the British selection trials this year.

Pippa Wilson (16) and Jenny Marks (18) – Pippa from Lymington, Hants, and Jenny from Pitsford, Northants teamed up this year to compete in the 29er class. The pair won the RYA Youth National Championships and went on to win the ISAF Youth World Championship title in Canada. Due to other commitments, Jenny then stepped off the boat and Pippa went on to win the 29er European title, this time with Mari Shepherd on the front trapeze wire.