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Short list announced

YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year and Young Sailor of the Year awards finallist unveiled

Tuesday November 13th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

The finalists of the 2012 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year and YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year awards have been announced.

The vote for the overall winner now goes to the members of the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) in a secret ballot. The winner of each award will be revealed at two separate ceremonies during the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show in January 2013.

YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year finalists include World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams: Williams has already been nominated and shortlisted for the YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year Award in the past, and during this year’s qualifying period he won the championship for an amazing third time. During the first week of December the final regatta in the annual ISAF match racing championship takes place at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, and Williams will then be competing for his fourth victory in this World Series which he currently leads with 102 points over Swede Bjorn Hansen, on 93 points, and Australian Keith Swinton on 79 points. If he succeeds in securing this title for a fourth time he will equal the record of America's Cup legened Peter Gilmour.

Williams, 35, a qualified lawyer in his other life, is also this year’s winner of the Congressional Cup, the elite invitation only match-racing event held in California every spring. As well as being skipper of the Pindar GAC match-racing team, Williams is also skipper of the Pindar GAC catamaran in the Extreme Sailing Series. He was brought up in Devon where he first started racing in Cadets and has been hugely successful internationally, since the age of 16. He now lives in Lymington with his wife, when not away on the international circuit.

Gold Paralympic medallist and ISAF 2011-12 Sailing World Cup Champion Helena Lucas: Lucas, originally from Redhill, but now living in Portland, was born with no thumbs and restricted arm movement, but nevertheless started sailing aged only eight and eventually excelled in racing in several of the open Olympic classes, including the 470 in which she campaigned for both the Sydney and Athens Olympics, but then settled on the Paralympics and concentrated on the 2.4mR and finished in a very respectable 7th place at Beijing.

Lucas won her 2012 gold medal in 2.4mR the mixed Paralympic class, as the only woman competitor. Lucas, 37, won the ISAF Sailing World Cup with three silvers and a bronze in the World Cup events held in Hyeres, Palma, Weymouth and Holland. In her other life she is an (honours) engineering graduate in yacht and power craft design from Southampton University.

Olympic medallist for the fifth time in 2012 Ben Ainslie: Ainslie has now been at the top of his sport for 20 years, enduring enormous self-sacrifice in his quest for perfection. This pursuit involves never giving an inch in the interminable training sessions and an utterly relentless year-round competition schedule. During his remarkable career, Ainslie has now claimed four Olympic gold medals and one silver, overhauling Paul Elvstrom's record, making him the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. In addition Ainslie has nine European titles to his credit and ten world championships going back to 1993. Few sportsmen in any discipline have stayed at the forefront of their careers for such a sustained period. Ainslie also won the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth year, and this time on his home waters of Falmouth. He concluded his year by being named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. Ainslie has also been voted YJA Yachtsman of Year on five previous occasions, either as an individual or as part of an Olympic team.

Finalists for the YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year include Lottie Harland, 16 from Reading: Lottie who has Asperger’s Syndrome has overcome many social difficulties to give other young sailors the benefit of her knowledge and the confidence to get out on the water.

She helps out at her club and motivates others wherever she can. Lottie recently set up a junior committee and in the summer, she helps at the club’s Sailability sessions one evening each week assisting physically and mentally disabled people to try sailing. Lottie also coaches the club’s Topper squad and has inspired many youngsters at the club and further afield, to take up the sport.

Lottie undertook the 41 mile Isle of Sheppey Round the Island Race in her Laser Radial to raise money for charity. As well as all this, she is a keen member of the RYA Volvo Laser Radial National Youth Squad and has attended eight competitive events this year including the European Laser Youth Radial Youth Championships in Belgium and the RYA Volvo Youth National Championships.

Saskia Sills, 16 from Launceston: Saskia has made a huge impact in her first season in the Youth RS:X class. After winning the 2012 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships in April, she finished third overall in the RS:X Youth European Windsurfing Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, winning the Under 17 category.

Saskia quickly followed that up with victory at her first ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and another gold at the EUROSAF Youth Europeans. She also claimed the under 17 world title in addition to overall silver at the at the RS:X Youth Worlds in October.

Saskia was recently nominated for ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards alongside Olympic and Paralympic medalists.

Ben Jelf, 12 from Maidstone: Ben at just 12 years old, has retained his two British titles in GT15 class, making this the third consecutive year he has held both the Junior Championship and Junior Sprint Championship's.

He has also received international recognition of the highest level claiming both a UIM European Powerboat Championship Title in Estonia for the second consecutive year and securing silver against a fleet of over 20 other competitors at the UIM World GT15 Championships in Sweden.

At Coniston Records Week (5-9 November), Ben knew he had his work cut out to beat the new World Record set in Sweden in October, but on just his third run he once again achieved the World and British speed record, boosting it to 44.33mph.

Ben's conduct both on and off the water is exceptional. He is always polite and treats everyone he comes into contact with, with respect both on and off the water. He has achieved so much in his short racing career but he is modest about his achievements and is always the first to congratulate his fellow competitors.

Winners of both awards will be voted for by members of the Yachting Journalists’ Association. The YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year will be announced at an awards ceremony at midday on Tuesday 15th January 2013 at Trinity House, Tower Hill, London.

The YJA Pantaenius Young Sailor of the Year Award will be announced at 14:00 hrs on Saturday 12th January 2013 at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show at ExCel, at the Knowledge Box. RYA Regional Winners will also be presented with their awards at the ceremony.

RYA Regional Winners are:

Thames Valley and London: Lottie Harland*
Eastern: Peter Cullum
North East: Christina Coates
South East: Ruth Oliver
South West: Saskia Sills*
Scotland: Lorenzo Chiavarini
North West: Greg Kelly
Northern Ireland: Robbie Gilmore
East Midlands: Sarah Gowler
Southern: Jack Arnell
Yorkshire and Humberside: Hector Simpson
West Midlands: Mya Kilpatrick-Wood
Wales: Ellie Meopham

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