World Sailing Awards. And the Winners Are…

Rolex World Sailors of the Year.
Pic by Evan Smith/World Sailing

Carolijn Brouwer (NED) / Marie Riou (FRA) and Pavlos Kontides (CYP) were crowned female and male Rolex World Sailors of the Year as the stars of sailing were recognised at the 2018 World Sailing Awards in Sarasota, Florida, USA.

Brouwer and Riou were recognised for their success in the Volvo Ocean Race and Kontides for winning consecutive World Championship titles.

Three news Awards were introduced in 2018. Corpus Christi Yacht Club claimed the World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award, Dongfeng Race Team took the Team of the Year title and Ran VII – Fast 40 received the Boat of the Year Award.

Alongside Rolex World Sailor of the Year and the new Awards, Bryan Willis (GBR) received the Beppe Croce Trophy, Para World Sailing Manager Massimo Dighe the President’s Development Award and L1 (FRA) took home the eSailing World Championship Trophy having won it earlier on in the day.

Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou (FRA) – Female Rolex World Sailors of the Year
Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou became the first female winners of the Volvo Ocean Race in the 2017-18 edition, claiming the title after thousands of gruelling miles at sea.

Ahead of the final race, Dongfeng Race Team’s Brouwer and Riou 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.

“This is a huge privilege,” commented an elated Brouwer. “20 years ago I won it for the first time so to be able to say I won the prize again in a different discipline really shows how sailing is a diverse sport and that it goes across so many difference disciplines. To be able to achieve so much in different disciplines within our sport is a huge honour.

“Being able to say that Marie and I were the first women to win the Volvo Ocean race is a special thing, we are part of history and it’s definitely something that will stay forever.”

France’s Riou added, “I’m feeling great to win this prize tonight, especially with Carolijn. It’s a team prize and it was such a great achievement for a year of hard work with the whole team.”

Pavlos Kontides – Male Rolex World Sailor of the Year
Cyprus’ Pavlos Kontides is etched into the history books in his home nation, becoming the countries first Olympic medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games. His success inspired the nation and since then he has continued to inspire nationally and globally with his achievements.

The Laser sailor won his first World Championship title at the 2017 edition in Split, Croatia. Less than one year later he stood atop of the podium yet again. At the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark he conquered again.

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.

Speaking on receiving the Award, Kontides said, “There are lot of great legends of our sport on that trophy. Since I was 14, I’ve been dreaming of winning that award. I used to write it on lots of pieces of paper that it’s what I wanted. Maybe it sounded a bit too far away, maybe it was too big of a dream but here I am today.

“I managed to achieve this from a really small island in the middle of the Mediterranean so I hope this achievement will inspire a lot of other young sailors to prove you should dream big and not be too scared to chase it.

“Impossible is something you only have in your brain. Your brain is the biggest barrier but once you figure it out, it can be your biggest weapon and your biggest ally as well so just dream big and go for it.”