- 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.