Olympic Gold medallist and current World Champion Mathew Belcher (QLD) received the highest sporting award in the world of sailing — the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. Belcher received the award at the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) awards evening in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
The award reflects the many accomplishments of the Queenslander, who has dominated the Men’s 470er class having notched up 17 consecutive regatta victories around the world. Belcher’s unbeaten run started in November 2011 with Malcolm Page (NSW) and culminated with the duo claiming gold at the Olympics in London 2012.
The streak continued with Belcher teaming up with Will Ryan (QLD) just months later. Belcher’s run reached 17 straight events after taking gold at the 2013 470 World Championships in La Rochelle, France.
"It's a complete honour," said Belcher during the awards ceremony. "It is a great recognition for this year and the efforts we've put in and the results we've achieved. I am very fortunate to have great support, from my coach Victor Kovalenko, crew and support staff."
After 2010 and 2012, this year was the third time Belcher had received a nomination for ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
"It has been a privilege to be nominated three times in four years, but to finally win this award is the best. Three times lucky I guess. To go through those years with the results we've had and to be recognised at an international level is fantastic.”
"It’s been a great run for me and to be able to do it with two different crews has been really rewarding. It really shows the depth we have in the Australian 470 system and also our preparations and planning to constantly perform”, he added.
Belcher received the award in the presence of his coach and Australian Sailing Team head coach Victor Kovalenko, OAM and recent inductee into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
“This is wonderful recognition of Mat’s ability. This award has been a long time coming and I’m confident we’ll still see much more of Mat and Will on the road to Rio”, Victor Kovalenko commented after the award announcement.
“We've got a lot of work to do, we don't want to win all the events and then not the games so it's really a matter of learning as much as we can as a new team and making sure we develop at the right time and right place to get the end one in Rio in three years' time,” Belcher said for the road ahead.
The winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards were decided by vote by the Member National Authorities (MNAs) of ISAF following a worldwide selection process that began with an open invitation for nominations. Two awards, one for a female sailor/crew and one for a male sailor/crew, were presented to the individuals who are deemed to have most distinguished themselves during the qualifying period from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2013.
Past recipients of the Awards – which were launched in 1994 – have been drawn from the diverse disciplines of the sport: Olympic dinghy and keelboats, single-handed ocean racing, transatlantic record breaking, match-racing, America's Cup and windsurfing are all represented. In addition to the magnificent ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Trophy, each winner is presented with a Rolex timepiece.
Australian Sailing Team Member and 2012 Olympic Champion Tom Slingsby was awarded Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2012.
The full list of nominees for the coveted and prestigious 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards were:
Mathew Belcher (AUS) – Men's 470 World & Olympic Champion
François Gabart (FRA) – IMOCA World Champion & 2012-13 Vendée Globe Winner
Johnny Heineken (USA) – Kiteboarding World #1 & 2012 Men's Course Racing World Champion
Paul Larsen (AUS) – Vestas Sailrocket 2 Outright Speed Record
Ian Williams (GBR) – Match Racing 2012 Match Racing World Champion
World #1 Open Match Racer for 16 consecutive releases starting in January 2012
Jo Aleh & Olivia Powrie (NZL) – Women's 470 World & Olympic Champions
Deneen Demourkas (USA) – Farr 30 2013 World Champion – third consecutive title
Erika Heineken (USA) – Kiteboarding 2012 Course Racing World Champion
Raiya Al Habsi (OMA) – First Omani Woman To Sail in the Rolex Fastnet Race
For Further Information
Please visit the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards microsite at: www.sailing.org/worldsailor /
ISAF Profile of Mathew Belcher: www.sailing.org/worldsailor/mathew-belcher