Tuesday 7 November 2012: Former Alpari World Match Racing Tour Champion Ben Ainslie (GBR) was named 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year yesterday alongside female winner Lijia Xu (CHN) at a ceremony held in Dublin, Ireland.
Four-time Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie commented, “Winning the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award is a huge honour, especially for everyone who has helped me. There is a huge team in the background from family, friends, coaches and sponsors who helped make it happen. It is a huge honour to be part of such a group of exceptional sailors who were put forward for this award.”
Ainslie received his fourth ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, having been awarded the title previously in 1998, 2002 and 2008. After his success at London 2012, Ainslie became the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. The 35-year old’s recent achievements elevated him to five Olympic medals (four gold, one silver), moving him ahead of Paul Elvstrøm (DEN), who won four gold medals between 1948 and 1960.
Ainslie has never ruled out a return to the Alpari World Match Racing Tour and whilst he admitted that his current focus is with his new Ben Ainslie Racing team, there is a possibility he will return to challenge for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship once again. He said: “America’s Cup with my new team is the next goal. If the America’s Cup goes back to monohull then there could be a return to the Tour at some point in the future. But for now, I have my focus there.”
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards
The winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are decided by vote by the over 130 Member National Authorities of ISAF following a worldwide selection process that begins with an open invitation for nominations. Two awards, one for a female sailor/crew and one for a male sailor/crew, are presented to the individuals who are deemed to have most distinguished themselves during the qualifying period from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2012.
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.