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YJA Yachtsman of the Year Awards - Miranda Merron from Hamble, runner-up for the 2014 boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award, with Bob Fisher, Chairman of the Yachting Journalists' Association, who presented the award at a gala luncheon,Trinity Hou
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston wins boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award

Emma Wilson wins Young Sailor of the Year


Dateline: 13th January 2015, Trinity House London: Seventy-five-year-old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is today named British yachtsman of the year by the Yachting Journalists’ Association at a prestigious awards ceremony sponsored for the first time byboats.com, the global online resource for boating enthusiasts to explore, discover and research. The awards were presented by Ian Atkins, president of boats.com and Bob Fisher, Chairman of the YJA, at a gala ceremony at Trinity House in London.

Sir Robin’s outstanding sailing exploits impressed the Country’s foremost sailing journalists, as members of the YJA voted him the eventual winner from a closely contested shortlist that included ISAF sailing world champion Giles Scott from Weymouth and Hamble based solo transatlantic sailor Miranda Merron.

At the age of 75, Sir Robin’s achievements last year culminated in an astonishing third in class finish in the renowned Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race. Today marks the fourth time the Portsmouth based sailor has been crowned Yachtsman of the Year – the first dates back to 1969, when he famously became the first person to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation.

Accepting his award, Sir Robin said: “At last I've caught up with Sir Ben Ainslie having now won my fourth award. The other two nominees have performed fantastically and both deserved to win - so I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.”

Windsurfer Emma Wilson from Christchurch in Dorset, the current Youth World champion, was named the boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year at the same awards ceremony. She topped a strong shortlist that included under-16 Topper Sailing World Champion Calum Rosie from Helensburgh, Scotland and national Honda RYA Youth RIB Champion Kamila Czartolomna from Wolverhampton.

Emma’s string of World and European windsurfing title wins last year convinced YJA members that she was a worthy winner. Still only 15, she won both the under-17 and under-19 world championship titles in Clearwater, USA, last October, to add to her European under-17 win earlier in the year.

Emma commented: “It feels amazing to have won. I'd like to thank my coaches and everyone who voted for me, as well as my family for all their support. I didn't think I was going to win the Youth World Windsurfing Championship but everything seemed to come together for me in October last year. It's really nice to be following in the footsteps of the previous winners and who knows hopefully I'll get to go to the Olympics in 2020.”

As well as the two main awards, there was also a special Lifetime Achievement Award for Iain Percy, OBE. This recognised his contribution to the enormously successful Bart’s Bash charity initiative to raise funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

Receiving his award via video-link, Iain commented: “I am very honoured to have been given this award. Bart’s Bash has turned out to be such an amazing event that has already introduced many people to our sport. It is the perfect mix of racing, family and fun which is why I believe it has been so popular. The event is a huge team effort with so many people involved and I would like to recognise everyone for making this happen including the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation which has been instrumental from the very beginning.”

Ian Atkins, president of new award sponsorboats.com, added: “We announced our involvement with this highly prestigious award just recently, and are very proud to be a part of today’s celebration to honour the worthy winners and all those shortlisted. As a long-time competitive sailor myself, I felt strongly about being involved in a framework that rewards the most deserving yachtsmen. This new partnership with the YJA represents a perfect fit forboats.com, and I’m delighted that we are now part of these historic awards.”

The Yachtsman of the Year Award was established in 1955 by Sir Max Aitken, Battle of Britain pilot, chairman of Express Newspapers, and a leading yachtsman in both sail and power. Previous winners of the award include Dame Ellen MacArthur and four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie.

Photo : Barry Pickthall/PPL
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