Disability Sports Ambassador

2010 Yachtsman of the Year. It was me..! Published under | 22 Comments

A huge thank you to the Yachting Journalists Association for voting me winner of the Pantaenius YJA Yachtsman of the Year trophy.  It is the biggest accolade in our sport and even now, the morning after, I’m sat here at my desk looking at this magnificent trophy, grinning from ear to ear.  The list of past winners is humbling; Dame Ellen Macarthur, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dee Caffari, Sir Francis Chichester, the list reads like a “who’s who” in the history of yachting in our country – I am really so proud.  For a full list of past winners, CLICK HERE.

I was joined on my table by my Team who have supported me throughout my endeavours, Mike Gumm (Slipstream), Peter Harrison (Peter Harrison Foundation), Caroline Rose (my speaking agent), Mark Tyrrell (BBC), Digby Fox (cameraman on my voyage), Patricia Eve (Seafarer Books, my publisher), Kate Bosomworth (KTB PR, my PR guru), Peter Burnage (one of my sponsors) and of course Elaine (no brackets needed).

Congrats also to the other nominees Ed Wright and Lucy Macgregor – worthy nominees and I’m sorry there could only be one winner.  Whilst thanking people, I’d also like to thank Susana Scott, the lady who provided my care across the Atlantic – without her help (and not forgetting Digby), I couldn’t have made the voyage last year. Oh yes, not forgetting Mike and Martine who loaned me Impossible Dream – oh no, I’ve started naming names, where do I stop? Huge apologies to those I’ve not named, you know who you are.

In my acceptance speech (I promise you, unrehearsed), I made the point that sailing isn’t all about racing and hopefully the YJA, in awarding me the honour, share my views. That’s not a swipe at racing – we all love to compete – me particularly, but sometimes we need to step back and think what it is about sailing that we love so much. I think it is simply that it gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves and to have the privilege of being part of such a precious environment using only the elements; it’s very empowering and, excuse the cliché, it is the most level of all sporting playing fields. In what other sport could a quadriplegic’s name sit alongside such a prestigious list of yachting heroes on a trophy like this?  I hope it encourages all sailors, whether they be “superstars” competing in the Southern Ocean or week-end sailors on a local lake, to appreciate how much pleasure we get out of our sailing and to give something back.  Having a few “superstars” of our sport give a little bit of their time to help promote sailing and, for example, the work of RYA Sailability, would be a great way of giving back.  I’ve been doing my little bit for nearly two decades and it gives me as much enjoyment helping others to go sailing as it does when I’m out on the water.

OK, here endeth the lesson – I make no apologies for labouring the point. 

Now begins the really hard work. Winning yesterday has strengthened my resolve to get my around the world sailing challenge running. Hopefully prospective sponsors will see my CV and will want to be part of the next great adventure. Getting to the starting line is going to be my toughest challenge yet and I need to call about that resolve everyone keeps talking about.

Please read these couple of on-line articles – written by professional yachting journalists.

22 Comments have been made

Chris Barnes says:

Geoff, to see your smiling face on the telly telly bunkum box and hear the genuine emotion in your voice was a real pleasure. You are a sailing God!
Massive congratulations, mate!
Chris x Barney x

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dan Griffey. Dan Griffey said: RT @WetWheels: Great news. New Blog Posted. [...]

Very many congratulations Geoff. Your words regarding racing not being everything are very important and worth repeating time and time again; so many of our Sailability members achieve so much by just getting into a boat, and to go on from there to sail solo is huge. May more and more people come to recognise the huge achievements of all RYA Sailability Clubs.


Trish McNair says:

Congratulations Geoff from us all at Rutland Sailability. I can hear that smile from here in sunny Leicestershire!.

Many congratulations Geoff from all at Sailability BVI. We know what it took to achieve what you have already. Good luck with round the world.

Tony Tucker says:

You have to start somewhere . I read my first Blog. As you may remember I have been following your activities and am full of your sucess. I do also imagine how going to these big gatherings can in themselves be a real Challenge too.
I hope you will find time to get some sailing in this coming year.
I fully agree with your comments about “Not needing to win races”. I suspect many people have dropped out of sailing for just that very reason. I also think that the RYA have manufactured such a pressence that we have reached a point where people imagine that RYA is the only way to learn. I see this as unfortunate. I see the RYA feeding off YOUR acheivements. TT:

Barney says:

Well done Geoff! What a well deserved achievement! Whenever you next want to visit I have my patented ‘Door Ramp’ at the ready.

Brian Lee says:

Congratulations Geoff – well desrved

Mike Baker says:

Many, many congratulations ! Great to see your smiling face again and your determination is an inspiration to all who for many reasons have had to give up sailing and buy a Stink Boat !
I look forward to your next visit to HISC.
Happy New Year to you Elaine and your son.
Senior Trustee HISC

Mike Baker says:

This article is very clear in its message and Geoff has never been slow in making his point which is refreshing and a moral booster. Divisions in our sport between Racers and Cruisers do exist in all our clubs and a lecture from a person who has done both needs pointing out and a future article on bringing the divisions closer together would be a great help and boost for our sport.

Murlo Primrose says:

Well done Geoff, agqin. I so agree with your in your ‘lesson’ , in fact was putting a fight for you with someone who dared to suggest that you do it for the publicity. It got very heated, but I hope I won the day! Hope to see you soon. x and to the family Murlo

Ali Pickersgill says:

Just wanted to say a huge congratulations to you Geoff. All your friend’s at E.S.C are so happy for you. I wish we could bottle your smile….it’s the best !!!

Congratulations Geoff on a well-deserving award!! You speak to all of us as sailors, of all abilities, with regards to “it gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves and to have the privilege of being part of such a precious environment using only the elements; it’s very empowering …” All the best in your future endeavours on the Sea!


Sherri Backstrom

Great news, Geoff, and it’s good to remind us that sailing is all sports to all people. It’s the sea that unites, inspires and humbles us all, from whizzy racers to creek crawlers. Good luck with your next venture and stay inspired. Best wishes, Claudia and Perry

Cherry says:

A fantastic achievement, many congratulations, you certainly deserve this award, Geoff.

Well done Geoff, I am sure that I speak on all the members of the Association when I say how proud we are to have you as one of our ‘friends’ and as a Challenger sailor.

Marc Roberts says:

Geoff, you are a true gentleman and a total inspiration. My two children still talk about a brief meeting with you at the Sunwalk in Southampton so even when ashore, you make a big impression ! very well done and thoroughly deserved.

Hazel says:

What more can I add – huge congratulations again. Are you ever seen without a smile these days? Good luck with your next project and may Elaine continue to have the patience of a Saint!

Maggie Widdop says:

I am so pleased on your award. Well done. You are a marvellous examplle to us all.

Moira C Dean says:

Well done Geoff. I am smiling with pleasure at your news.

Aylin Graves says:

Congratulations! Can’t wait to follow your next big challenge. Who knows, maybe we’ll meet in the seas somewhere!

tracy nicoll says:

Very well deserved and great news! You should feel very proud of yourself. Huge congratulations from all at The AAIR Charity.

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An ex-professional yachtsman with many ocean crossings under his belt, Geoff Holt was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984....

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