Sailors win the major trophies at Victorian Sports Awards

VICTORIAN Sailing champions Glenn Ashby, James Sly and Andrew Gillies have had major success at the 2009 Vic Sport Awards, with Ashby being named Male Athlete of the Year and Sly and Gillies taking home the Junior Team of the Year award.

The awards, which recognise champions from more than 70 sports from around the state, were held at the Sofitel Melbourne and were attended by Minister for Sport James Merlino and Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley.

Considered one of the greatest sailors Australia has seen, Ashby was named the Male Athlete of the Year, capping off a phenomenal season in which he was also awarded the Victorian Male Sailor of the Year award for the sixth time, and became the International A Class Catamaran Champion for the sixth time, a feat which has never before been achieved.

Ashby, a member of McCrae and Bendigo Yacht Clubs, also won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Tornado and, more recently, won the International Tornado World Championships in Italy with Darren Bundock for the third time.

The Male Athlete of the Year Award has been awarded to many high-profile Victorian sporting stars over the years, most recently to cyclist Cadel Evans and athlete Craig Mottram.






Ashby was chosen from a stellar field which included surfer Adam Robertson, cyclist Shane Perkins, Adrian Jackson (orienteering), cricketer Peter Siddle, swimmer Matt Targett and athlete Collis Birmingham.

Current Australian 29er National Champions and Youth Champions Sly, of Mordialloc, and Gillies, of Essendon, won the Junior Team of the Year and were a standout on the night.

The dynamic duo, members of Mordialloc Sailing Club, Royal Brighton and Sandringham yacht clubs, (Andrew is also a member at Port Melbourne YC) have had major success in the past year, including winning the 29er National Championship at just 15, making them the youngest ever winners of the competition.

At the Australian Youth Championships, as well as taking the 29er title, they were awarded the inaugural Nick Peate Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Sportsmanship.

The pair were also named Youth Sailors of the Year at the Victorian Yachting Awards earlier this year.

Sly said this week he was thrilled with the duo's win.

“It is an honour and a privilege to receive this award, as it is great to see sailing recognized in competition with the other sports,'' he said.

Previous winners of the Vic Sport Junior Team of the Year award include the Victorian Jr Diving Team (2008) and the Victorian 19/U Netball Team in 2007.

Gillies and Sly were a standout at this year's Vic Sport Awards, victorious over the Boys U/16 Softball Team, U16 Metro State Representative Women's Basketball Team and the U18 Men's Table Tennis Team.

Yachting Victoria CEO Ross Kilborn said the sailors' achievements were outstanding.

“This is a terrific result, considering over 70 sports were eligible,'' Mr Kilborn said. “It's not surprising however, given their results over the past year, and pleasing given that they are such great ambassadors for the sport.''

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