YJA Yachtsman of the Year announced

Ben Ainslie wins award for the third time

Thursday January 2nd 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Laser Gold medallist turned Finn sailor, Ben Ainslie today the 2002 YJA Yachtsman of the Year. Ainslie won this top yachting award for an unprecedented third time ahead of four other top British names in the sport – Route du Rhum winner Ellen MacArthur, four-time World Class 1 Powerboat champion Steve Curtis, Star Class world champions Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, and Peter Harrison and his GBR America’s Cup Challenge team.

Following his Gold Medal winning performance in the Laser Class at the Sydney Olympics, Ben changed up to the Finn singlehander class and in his first year, won the Finn Gold Cup (world championship), European Championship and Greek Pre-Olympic regatta. Ben won the YJA Young Sailor of the Year Award in 1993 and the YJA Yachtsman of the Year in 1999 and again in 2000 as a member of the British Olympic Yachting Team.

The 2002 Young Sailor of the Year award, supported by MDL, went to 14-year-old Hannah Mills from Glamorgan, Wales following her success during the past year in winning the Optimist National Championship and finishing 9th overall and 2nd girl at the World Championships in Texas – the second best result British result ever, and best ever for a girl.

Mills beat six other promising British youth sailors including 18 year old 420 Class champion Nic Asher from Lowestoft, Laser sailor Giles Scott from Cambridge, 420 champions Charlotte Savage and Maia Walsh from Birmingham, and Youth World Champions Pippa Wilson and Jenny Marks from Lymington and Pitsford.

However she made headlines in 2002 for bending the ear of Tony Blair to back London’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games because she wants to win a Gold Medal in home waters.

The YJA Yachtsman of the Year and Young Sailor of the Year Awards are voted on by members of the Yachting Journalists’ Association who represent all disciplines of the sport. The YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award is now in its 47th year. The award is presented to the person whose achievement in the past year most justifies the title. It was instigated in 1955 by Sir Max Aitken and has been the premier award in British yachting ever since.

The YJA Young Sailor of the Year Award which has been actively supported by the marina group MDL for several years, recognises the achievement and endeavour by a young sailor in any discipline of the sport. Organised by the YJA in conjunction with the Royal Yachting Association though its 13 regions, it is open to any person under the age of 19 at 31 December 2002.

The youth award line-up

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