Sarah Blanck and Glenn Ashby Named Victoria's Sailors of the Year

Olympians Sarah Blanck and Glenn Ashby have taken out top honours at the annual Victorian Yachting awards – both now named Sailor of the Year an unprecedented six times each.
 
Former state Sailor of the Year, John Bertrand AM, was guest presenter at the Melbourne Sport and Aquatic Centre (Friday night), where around 140 people saw Olympic Laser Radial sailor Blanck named Female Sailor of the Year and Olympic Tornado star Ashby receive the Male Sailor of the Year award. Previous sailor of the year winners include Sydney Olympic gold medalists Tom King and Mark Turnbull (2000, 2001), two-time champion John Bertrand (1977 & 1984), Dual Sydney-Hobart winner Lou Abrahams 2006 and handicapped solo around the word sailor Vinny Lauwers (2001).
 
Thirty-two-year-old Blanck, a member at Royal Brighton Yacht Club, placed fourth at the Beijing Olympics last year and fifth in the 2008 Laser Radial World Championships. She is a former world Europe class champion and was Australia's top placed sailor at the 2004 Olympics.
 
“I was really surprised,'' Blanck said. “I didn't even know I was nominated! But of course it is a big honour and I really appreciate being home.'' Blanck is heading to Denmark and Japan for a five week coaching stint.
 
Ashby, 29, was named the Tornado World champion in 2008, and won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.In the international A Class World Titles in NSW  in February this  year, Ashby sailed away with the World Championship.
 
“This award is a pleasant surprise,'' Ashby said. “Sarah has been at the top of her game for some time, and I have had a massive year, the biggest 12 months of all time!'' In addition to his sailing success, Ashby and wife Melissa became the proud parents of a baby girl just eight weeks ago.
 
Disabled Sailor of the Year Krista Bailey said she was surprised and honoured to win her award.
“Especially when I saw who I was up against,'' Bailey laughed. “It was a big surprise.''
Bailey will also head off oversease next year to compete in the World Championships in the UK.
 
Yacht Club of the Year went to the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. Commodore Tony Spencer said he was pleased with the many awards his club had accumulated over the night. “The award is for the members, the volunteers and all the people associated with our club,'' Mr Spencer said.
 
With nearly 1000 members, Mr Spencer said the club's success could be attributed to it's fantastic culture. “It's a great place to learn to sail and to sail at,'' Mr Spencer said.
 
Fifteen-year-old Lloyd Collings received the Junior Sailor of the Year. “It's fantastic,'' the Woodleigh School student said. “It was great to win last year as a pair, but to win it on my own is really good.''
 
A special award was given to Sandringham Yacht Club member Dr Rob Cuthbertson and duty manager Paul Corield, who helped save the life of a fellow member after he suffered a heart attack at the club late last year. The two received the Special Services to Yachting award in recognition of their marvellous efforts.

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