Australian sailing gold medallists named as World Sailor of the Year finalists

Australian sailing’s successful year on the water has continued off it with three crews named as finalists for the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.

Australia’s London 2012 Olympic Games gold medal winning crews are finalists for the award, the first time that the country has had three finalists in the same year in the award’s 19 year history.

470 men’s crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, 49er team Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen and Laser sailor Tom Slingsby are all in the running for the award, alongside British Finn gold medallist Ben Ainslie and French round the world sailor Loick Peyron.

For Belcher and Page the nomination caps off an incredibly successful year where they won Olympic gold, the 2011 and 2012 470 World Championships and the 2011-2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup.

In winning gold at London 2012 Page became the first Australian sailor to defend his Olympic title.

“Sometimes you have doubts in the back of your mind when you put together plans, especially when our coach Victor puts together very ambitious ones, but to do what we did in the last year was incredible,” said Page. “It was special to do it with Mat and it’s great to see our teammates Tom, Nathan and Iain also getting recognition for their amazing year.

“I retired from Olympic sailing after London and the script has been written pretty well for me already,” he said. “You can’t anticipate recognition like this, the plan was to win regattas and accolades such as this and carrying the Australian flag at the Closing Ceremony is a bonus.”

Outteridge is no stranger to being a finalist for sailing’s biggest award, with 2012 being the third time in four years that he has been up for the award. For his crew Jensen 2012 is his first time as a finalist following a year where the pair won Olympic gold, the 2011 and 2012 49er World Championships and the 2011-2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup.

Slingsby created history when he became the first Australian to win the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award in 2010 and has the chance to make it two awards in three years in 2012. At London 2012 Slingsby became the first Australian sailor to win an individual gold medal and in the last year won the 2011 and 2012 Laser World Championships.

“It’s a great honour to be a finalist for the World Sailor of the Year and really special to be there with four of my teammates from London,” said Slingsby. “All three Australian crews that were nominated have motivated each other over the last couple of years, we always said that when we raced together at events we’d win together and we managed to do that. It’s a great reward for a big year for Australian sailing.

“If I was to win the award for a second time I’d be extremely honoured,” he said. “It’s going to be very tough to split all of us, not only is there the three Australian crews but four-time gold medallist Ben Ainslie, and Loick Peyron who set another round the world record, anyone can win it.”

The 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year will be announced on Tuesday 6 November at an event in Dublin, Ireland.

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