The ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year 2001 awards have nominated Ellen MacArthur as their female winner and Brazilian Laser champion Robert Scheidt as the male winner

At a ceremony to be held in Lisbon, Portugal tonight, the ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year 2001 winners will be announced. The winners of the awards, for outstanding achievement in sailing, are Ellen MacArthur and Robert Scheidt.

Ellen’s award is in recognition of her remarkable second place in the Vendée Globe 2000-01 onboard Kingfisher. Despite her size and comparative youth, Ellen was never fazed by the high calibre of the opposition and went on to record the fastest ever circumnavigation by a female and the second-fastest circumnavigation ever (behind winner Michel Desjoyeaux) at 94 days for the 25,780-mile course.

Thereafter, she co-skippered Kingfisher with Nick Moloney to victory in the EDS Atlantic Challenge, then won the Challenge Mondiale Assistance onboard Foncia-Kingfisher with co-skipper Alain Gautier and is currently negotiating her way through the Doldrums in the Transat Jacques Vabre on the same boat.

Her Laser 4000 sailing partner Paul Brotherton will collect the award on her behalf but the following statement will be read out. “I am always surprised to be nominated for awards like these, but hope that any recognition of this kind is simply recognising that anyone can achieve their goals if they work at it. Equally a nomination of me for an award is a nomination for my team, sponsors and supporters over the years – whilst I may race often on my own, it is a great team effort to get to the starting line ready to compete.”

Brazil’s Robert Scheidt, recently winner of his fifth Laser World Championships (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), won the male category for his continued domination of the most popular dinghy class in the world. In addition to his string of world and national championships, Scheidt has also won two Olympic medals: gold in 1996 and silver in 2000, behind Ben Ainslie.

Scheidt’s glittering career began in 1986 when he won the South American Optimist title, aged just 12. After transferring to the Laser, he then won the ISAF Laser ISAF Youth Worlds in 1991 and his star was truly ascendant. Scheidt hopes to scoop another Olympic gold medal in Athens before trying his hand at the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race.

“Being nominated ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year is every sailor’s dream,” said Scheidt. “I am very proud to win this award and I want to share this very special moment with my family, friends and sponsors who have helped me so much in achieving this goal.”

The ceremony, hosted by 1996 Olympic Finn gold medallist and 1999 award-winner Mateusz Kusznierewicz of Poland, will be attended by dignitaries such as President of the Portuguese Republic – Dr Jorge Sampaio, and President of the International Olympic Committee – Dr Jacques Rogge and HM King Constantine of Greece, along with representatives and well-known sailing figures from more than sixty countries.

Paul Henderson, President of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), praised the two winners: “Ellen and Robert demonstrate how diverse our sport is, with each representing opposite ends of the sailing spectrum. They have achieved at the highest level and are both great sailors.”

The nominees in the respective female and male categories were:
FemaleSofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE)Ellen MacArthur (GBR)Sari Multala (FIN)Lee Lai-Shan (HKG)MaleGrant Dalton (NZL)Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA)Torben Grael (BRA)Heiko Kroger (GER)Fredrik Loof (SWE)Yves Parlier (FRA)Robert Scheidt (BRA)