World Sailing, the world governing body of the sport, and Rolex, the leading name in prestige watches that includes watches engineered specifically for sailing, are pleased to announce a line-up of Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2018 nominees that personify excellence.
The 11 nominated sailors represent the best of the best in international sailing over the last 12 months, with kiteboarders, offshore racers and Olympic class specialists all shortlisted.
The names vying for the coveted and prestigious 2018 Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are:
Caterina Banti (ITA) – 2018 Nacra 17 World Champion
Carolijn Brouwer (NED) / Marie Riou (FRA) – Volvo Ocean Race winners
Daniela Moroz (USA) – 2018 Formula Kiteboarding World Champion
Wendy Tuck (AUS) – Clipper Round the World Race winning skipper
Charles Caudrelier (FRA) – Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper
Sime and Mihovil Fantela (CRO) – 2018 49er World Champions
Pavlos Kontides (CYP) – 2018 Laser World Champion
Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) – 2018 Men’s RS:X World Champion
Ruggero Tita (ITA) – 2018 Nacra 17 World Champion
Members of the public will be invited to vote for who they think should be crowned Rolex World Sailor of the Year on Monday 15 October via World Sailing’s website. The public will contribute 30% of the overall vote with World Sailing’s Member National Authorities making up the final 70%.
On Tuesday 30 October 2018, the winners will be announced at the World Sailing Awards Ceremony in Sarasota, Florida, USA.
Each winner will be presented with the unique marble and silver trophy depicting the globe, crowned with five silver spinnakers representing the continents, together with a Rolex timepiece.
The Awards night is the social highlight of the World Sailing Annual Conference and 2018 is set to be a ground breaking edition with the introduction of the World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award, the Team of the Year and the Boat of the Year.
Alongside Rolex World Sailor of the Year and the new Awards, the Beppe Croce Trophy, President Development Award and eSailing World Championship Trophy will be presented.
Carolijn Brouwer (NED) / Marie Riou (FRA)
With female representation on all seven Volvo Ocean Race teams competing in the 2017-18 edition, it was inevitable that a first female winner of the gruelling race would be crowned. But no one could have ever predicted the drama that unfolded to decide the winner.
Ahead of the race, Dongfeng Race Team’s Carolijn Brouwer (NED) and Marie Riou (FRA) were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Brouwer was an experienced offshore racer with two Volvo Ocean Race editions completed, whereas Riou was a two-time Olympian in Match Racing and the Nacra 17.
The two came together and worked in unison, making brave and bold decisions when they mattered.
On the winner-takes-all 970-mile drag race from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague, The Netherlands, Dongfeng Race Team made the right call to move inshore and take a narrow leg win to seal the Volvo Ocean Race title.
Wendy Tuck (AUS)
A veteran of 11 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races, offshore racing is at the heart of Wendy Tuck’s life.
After becoming the first Australian female skipper appointed to lead a team on the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race for the 2015-16 edition, Tuck became hooked on the race and leading amateurs on the epic 40,000 nautical mile round-the-world venture.
In 2017, ahead of her second Clipper Race, Tuck achieved a lifelong goal of making the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race honours list, finishing as first female skipper to earn the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy.
Just months after her feat, Tuck made history once again, this time in the 2017-18 edition of the Clipper Race. Having led Sanya Serenity Coast to victory, she became the first female to skipper a winning yacht in the race.
Daniela Moroz (USA)
At just 17 years old, Daniela Moroz (USA) is the leading competitor in Women’s Foiling Kiteboarding.
Moroz became a first-time World Champion in 2016 in the IKA Foiling Formula Kite, and successfully defended her title a year later. At the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark in 2018, she held on to it again for a third successive year.
The American’s dominance in Aarhus was astonishing. Out of 15 races sailed, Moroz won 14, blowing past all of her rivals with ease to take a convincing gold. At the 2018 European Championships she was just as commanding, winning 13 of 14 races.
Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA)
After the Nacra 17 went fully foiling, Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti set about learning the intricacies of the boat immediately – and it paid off in 2018 as they completely dominated everywhere they competed.
Their golden 2018 started in March at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Victory at the World Cup Series event in Hyéres, France followed before they clinched the World Cup Series title in Marseille, France.
European gold in Gdynia, Poland followed before they clinched a hard-earned World Championship title in Aarhus, Denmark by a single point.
Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
After 45,000 nautical miles around the world, across four oceans, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race came down to a 970-mile sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague, The Netherlands.
Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team went head-to-head with MAPFRE and Team Brunel knowing that whoever finished ahead would claim the title.
It was risk and reward for Caudrelier as he and his team made a bold move to split away from their rivals, sail close to the shoreline and wait for a projected wind shift. After slipping behind, the risk paid off as favourable conditions propelled them ahead of their rivals to claim their first leg win and with it, the Volvo Ocean Race title.
Pavlos Kontides (CYP)
Winning silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games firmly embedded Pavlos Kontides into Cyprus’ sporting history as his success was the first Olympic medal for his nation. Since then, Kontides has continued to inspire nationally and globally with his achievements.
Kontides won gold at the 2017 Laser World Championships in Split, Croatia, and retained his title less than one year later at the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
After ten testing races, Kontides faced off against Matt Wearn (AUS) in the Laser Medal Race. Although Kontides finished a place behind the Australian in a tense final duel, he had enough points to give him a two-point victory and a second world title.
Sime and Mihovil Fantela (CRO)
After winning Men’s 470 gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Sime Fantela switched to the 49er to race with his brother Mihovil.
Following several years of competing at the front of the fleet in the Men’s 470, Sime and his brother were made to settle for the middle of the pack, and saw mixed results for much of their build-up to the Hempel Sailing World Championships.
However, come crunch time in Aarhus, Denmark, their hard work and Sime’s experience in high-pressure scenarios paid off as the Fantela brothers claimed gold convincingly.
Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED)
Never without a smile on his face, the Netherlands’ Dorian van Rijsselberghe further enhanced his RS:X windsurfing legacy at the Hempel Sailing World Championships. The Dutchman had a series of up and down results leading up to Aarhus but, as he does so often, he turned on the style and found an edge over his opponents to claim gold.
Like many of his would-be title rivals, the 29-year-old double Olympic champion only won two races, but his consistency was unmatched. Only once in the 12 races leading to the Medal Race did he finish out of the top 10. Ahead of the final race, he could not be caught, an achievement he’s also managed on two previous occasions – at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards is the most prestigious award of recognition in the dynamic sport of sailing. Since the awards' inception in 1994, the trophy has proudly accumulated the names of those who have demonstrated unparalleled endurance, performance and accomplishment in sailing.
Beginning with Sir Peter Blake and Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the inaugural winners, the trophy reads like the definitive who's who in sailing.
Previous recipients of the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award include:
2017 Peter Burling (NZL), Marit Bouwmeester (NED)
2016 Santiago Lange (ARG), Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark (GBR).
2015 Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (NZL), Sarah Ayton (GBR)
2014 James Spithill (AUS), Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze (BRA)
2013 Mat Belcher (AUS), Jo Aleh & Polly Powrie (NZL)
2012 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Lijia Xu (CHN)
2011 Iker Martinez & Xabier Fernandez (ESP), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
2010 Tom Slingsby (AUS), Blanca Manchon (ESP)
2009 Torben Grael (BRA), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
2008 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Alessandra Sensini (ITA)
2007 Ed Baird (USA), Claire Leroy (FRA)
2006 Mike Sanderson (NZL), Paige Railey (USA)
2005 Fernando Echavarri & Anton Paz (ESP), Ellen MacArthur (GBR)
2004 Robert Scheidt (BRA), Sofia Bekatorou & Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE)
2003 Russell Coutts (SUI), Siren Sundby (NOR)
2002 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Sofia Bekatorou & Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE)
2001 Robert Scheidt (BRA), Ellen MacArthur (GBR)
2000 Mark Reynolds & Magnus Liljedahl (USA), Shirley Robertson (GBR)
1999 Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), Margriet Matthijse (NED)
1998 Ben Ainslie (GBR), Carolijn Brouwer (NED)
1997 Pete Goss (GBR), Ruslana Taran & Elena Pakholchik (UKR)
1996 Jochen Schümann (GER), Lai Shan Lee (HKG)
1995 Russell Coutts (NZL), Isabelle Autissier (FRA)
1994 Peter Blake (NZL) & Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR), Theresa Zabell (ESP)