Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards

Nominees announced

Tuesday September 27th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

ISAF received nominations for the 2011 Awards from across the world for sailors representing all aspects of the sport. In deciding the nominees, the achievements of sailors made during the qualifying period of 1 September 2010 and 31 August 2011 are taken into consideration. There can be only one winner in each of the two categories, male and female, and the names of those sailors now vying for the coveted and prestigious 2011 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award are announced today.

The 2011 nominees are:


Dee Caffari (GBR) – Record Breaking Round The World Yachtswoman

Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU) – Double Professional Windsurfing Association World Champion

Alexandra Rickham (GBR) – ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion and IFDS World Champion

Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) – ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion


Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Match Racing World Champion & ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion

Lorenzo Bressani (ITA) – Melges 24 and 32 World Champion

Rob Douglas (USA) – Outright World Speed Record Holder

Iker Martinez & Xabier Fernandez (ESP) – IMOCA60 and 49er Success

Nathan Outteridge (AUS) – International Moth World Champion and 49er Champion


The achievements of the 2011 Nominees are:

Dee Caffari (GBR)

Dee Caffari has a thirst for adventure, relishes a challenge that pushes her to the limits and is no stranger to record breaking success. In 2011 she earned herself yet another place in the record books when she completed the Barcelona World Race.

Sailing the double-handed non-stop around the world race aboard the IMOCA60 GAES Centros Auditivos, Dee and co-skipper Anna Corbella were the first all-female team to enter the race. They finished in sixth place after 102 days at sea. This achievement makes Caffari the first woman to sail non-stop around the world three times.

Caffari’s first circumnavigation was completed in 2005 after she skippered a team in the Global Challenge yacht race, a tenth month stop-over race with an amateur crew sailed against the prevailing winds and currents. Just four months after completing this race she set off again aboard the 72ft monohull Aviva, sailing the same route but this time on her own and without stopping. She returned 178 days later after a gruelling journey of extreme highs and lows, earning herself an MBE and a place in the record books as the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world west-about.

Caffari’s next challenge was the 2008-9 Vendée Globe, this time sailing solo non-stop east-about on the IMOCA60 Aviva. Caffari finished an impressive sixth out of 30 competitors and became the first woman to sail solo in both directions non-stop around the world.

In 2011 she completed the hat-trick and also found time to finish second aboard the MOD70 Race for Water in the Rolex Fastnet Race, skipper Artemis Ocean Racing in the Round the Island Race, compete at Phuket Race Week and continue her work as an ambassador for the tri-service charity initiative Toe in the Water.

Dee Caffari is always looking for a challenge to push the boundaries ever further; she enjoys adventure racing and new experiences and is now planning her fourth solo circumnavigation in the 2012-13 Vendée Globe.

The first woman to sail non-stop around the world three times

Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU)

Winning a World Champion title in the Professional Windsurfing Association is no mean feat; winning two in the same year is truly exceptional. At just 20 years of age, Sarah-Quita Offringa from Aruba has achieved just that – she is the PWA Women’s Slalom World Champion and the PWA Women’s Freestyle World Champion.

Offringa has finished on the podium at every single PWA Tour event she has contested this year. At five of the seven regattas she stood on top of the podium and in the Freestyle competition proved unbeatable. Her dominance is outstanding and her ability to excel in two very different disciplines of windsurfing is impressive.

2011 was not the first time Offringa was crowned World Champion and she holds a PWA record for being the youngest competitor to win a world title in women’s freestyle for four successive years, without losing a heat.

Sarah-Quita Offringa is an inspiration for young athletes and has been a driving force behind a new school of women’s freestyle windsurfing. She has supreme athletic ability and talent and is a real ambassador for the sport of sailing.

PWA World Champion – Women’s Freestyle
PWA World Champion – Women’s Slalom

Alexandra Rickham (GBR)

In July 2011, Alex Rickham won her third consecutive IFDS Disabled Sailing World title in the two-person keelboat, SKUD18. A few weeks later she clinched the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup title with a series score of 78 from a maximum 80 points available.

In 2007 Rickham teamed up with Niki Birrell as a crew and at the 2008 Paralympic Games they finished just outside the medals in fifth. In 2009 they switched places and have since gone from strength to strength, finishing on the podium at all of the regattas they have raced at in this nomination period.

The season got underway in December at the 2010 Sail Melbourne regatta and Rickham posted her first regatta win of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series. The second gold came in Hyères at the Semaine Olympique Française and two silvers from the US SAILING Rolex Miami OCR and Skandia Sail for Gold in Weymouth. This was Rickham and Birrell's second consecutive World Cup title achieved in emphatic style.

At the IFDS Worlds in Weymouth, Rickham’s consistent performance put her team at the top of the leaderboard from day one. With four race wins from the ten race series Rickham and Birrell secured the title with a day to spare. A third consecutive world title is an exceptional achievement and Rickham’s determination to succeed makes her the sailor to beat on the Paralympic circuit.

2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion – SKUD18
IFDS Disabled Sailing World Champion, two-person keelboat, SKUD18

Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)

In 2011 Anna Tunnicliffe has only twice returned home from a regatta without a medal. She is the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion in Women’s Match Racing and the 2011 Snipe Women’s World Champion.

Tunnicliffe and her teammates Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi kicked off their ISAF Sailing World Cup campaign in January at the US SAILING Rolex Miami OCR where they won the silver medal. Bronze in Palma and Hyères was followed by their first gold medal at the Skandia Sail For Gold Regatta in Weymouth in August. At the final regatta of the series, in Kiel, they finished fifth overall but this was enough to secure them the title.

In November 2010 Anna and crew Molly took a break from match racing to sail at the Snipe Women’s World Championship in St Petersburg, USA. True to form they won the title which they followed up with the US national title in March 2011.

Tunnicliffe skippers an exceptionally busy team who whose intense training is complemented by regular regatta appearances. From the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics qualifiers to the World Match Racing Tour, the team have stood on the podium eleven times. In January Tunnicliffe was awarded the 2010 US Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award and the US Sailing Alphagraphics Team of the Year.

2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion – Women’s Match Racing
2010 Snipe Women’s World Champion

Ben Ainslie (GBR)

In December 2010, Ben Ainslie won the ISAF Match Racing World Championship after winning three regattas of the nine-stage 2010 World Match Racing Tour. Ainslie’s Team Origin won the final two stages, the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda and the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia to clinch the world title. Ainslie’s consistent results also kept him at the top of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings throughout the period.

With one world title in the bag, Ainslie returned to the Finn class and joined the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit in Melbourne. The gold medal at Sail Melbourne was followed by silver at the US SAILING Rolex Miami OCR where he missed out on the top spot to his teammate Giles Scott. Ainslie went on to pick up a hat-trick of gold medals at the next three regattas in Palma, Hyères and Weymouth to secure his first ISAF Sailing World Cup title with a near flawless score card.

The final flourish for Ainslie was the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta in August where he confirmed his authority in the Finn class winning six of the eleven races to win gold with a 31 point margin.

2010 ISAF Match Racing World Champion
2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion – Finn

Lorenzo Bressani (ITA)

Lorenzo Bressani is the man to beat in one-design keelboat racing and the multiple World Champion has once again achieved the double – Melges 24 World Champion and Melges 32 World Champion.

In September 2010 in San Francisco, USA he won the Melges 32 World Championship title as tactician aboard B-Lin Sailing. The B-Lin Sailing team had raced together for less than a year and their victory was a testament to the hard work of the team and the cool talent of tactician Bressani. Through 2011 they continued to post consistent results across the Audi Sailing Series including podium spots in Naples and Malcesine, Italy to finish the season fifth overall.

When not aboard the Melges 32, Bressani can be found at the back of the Melges 24 Uka Uka Racing or the Melges 20 Let’s Roll. Bressani’s greatest success is in the Melges 24 and following his championship glory in May 2011 at the Worlds in Corpus Christi, USA he has now won the title a record three times, in 2011, 2010 and 2008.

Downsizing to the Melges 20, Bressani sails as tactician aboard Let’s Roll and the team have posted two regatta wins on the Audi Sailing Series in Naples and Scarlino in Italy.

Bressani is a remarkable competitor equally at home as tactician or helm and his consistent achievements across the most competitive one-design keelboat classes are outstanding.

2010 Melges 32 World Champion
2011 Melges 24 World Champion

Rob Douglas (USA)

The fastest man on water, kiteboarder Rob Douglas set a new outright world speed record in 2010 in Luderitz, Namibia. On 28 October Douglas was one of five kiteboarders to break the previous record, held by the trimaran L’Hydroptère. Douglas did so by the biggest margin, more than four knots, setting a new record of 55.65 knots or 103.1 kilometres per hour.

The flat water of the 3-5 metre wide, 750 metre long trench and the regularity with which Luderitz produces wind in excess of 40 knots makes it the ideal location for speed record attempts. The enormity of the physical and mental challenge that it takes to exceed 50 knots on a kite board should not be underestimated. The skill and fitness of the athletes involved is truly outstanding. There are only a handful of people who have achieved this benchmark speed, and Douglas’ record sets him above them all.

Douglas is no stranger to being the fastest human under sail. In 2008 he claimed the world speed record with a speed of 49.84 knots becoming the first kiteboarder to hold the title. His position was short-lived as the 50 knot barrier was broken in the same year, but Douglas’ phenomenal effort in 2010 has eclipsed the competition once again.

Outright World Speed Record Holder – 55.65 knots

Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez (ESP)

The world’s greatest sailing duo, Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez from Spain have raced together since 1999. They made their name in the 49er fleet and since 2005 have risen to prominence in offshore sailing as well.

On 31 December 2010 Martinez and Fernandez embarked on their first double-handed non-stop round the world race aboard the IMOCA60 MAPFRE. Fourteen boats started the Barcelona World Race and after just ten months of training aboard an IMOCA60, Martinez and Fernandez returned to Barcelona in second place. They completed the 25,000 mile course in 94 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes and 35 seconds and picked up the Pacific Trophy for the fastest boat to complete the Cook Strait to Cape Horn section of the race.

It is the 49er fleet where Martinez and Fernandez are most well-known and they already have two Olympic medals and three world champion titles already under their belts. In August 2011 they took a break from their training for the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race and returned to the 49er at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, over a year since they had last competed in the class. In one of the most exciting finales of the regatta, Martinez and Fernandez finished on equal points with fellow nominee Nathan Outteridge who ultimately claimed gold due to a better Medal Race finish.

This is a truly remarkable sailing team whose genuine sailing talent and ability to compete at the highest level in vastly different events sets them apart from the competition.

Outstanding achievements from the 49er to round the world racing

Click here to read more about Iker and Xabier and their achievements

Nathan Outteridge (AUS)

Nathan Outteridge is accustomed to finishing on the podium and is most well known for being at the very top of his game in the 49er class. But it is the diversity of his sailing talent that really sets him apart from the crowd - within the nomination period he posted top twelve finishes at no less than five different Class World Championships.

In January 2011 he blasted his way to world championship glory in the International Moth before slipping seamlessly into the Laser SB3, picking up regatta wins including the Australian National title. Outteridge then joined the Farr 40 Estate Master crew as strategist and guided them to the podium at the Australian Nationals and fifth overall at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Sydney. The final regatta before heading to Europe was the 505 Worlds in Hamilton Island, where he finishing ninth overall with 49er crew Iain Jensen.

First stop was the UK for the SB3 World Championships where Outteridge finished twelfth overall in a fleet of over 100 boats before travelling to the Netherlands to join the World Cup circuit in the 49er. Second place at the Delta Lloyd Regatta was followed up by first at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta before back to back wins including the Open Europeans and the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta.

At just 25 years of age Nathan Outteridge is a class act. With an undeniable talent and a great sense of sportsmanship he is a true ambassador for the sport of sailing.

2011 International Moth World Champion
Outstanding achievements across numerous classes from dinghies to keelboats

The Voting

The winners will be selected by the ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs), the national governing bodies for sailing around the world, who are now invited to vote for the one male and one female nominee who they believe most deserves the Award.

The winners will be announced at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards presentation and dinner, which will take place on Tuesday 8 November 2011. The venue for the event is the Barrio Ballajá in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Each winner will be presented with the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Trophy and a distinctive Rolex timepiece.

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