Honours for record breakers
Another award for PlayStation 's Steve Fossett
Yachtsmen of the year awards, it seems are all the rage. During London Boat Show Ellen MacArthur won this title for a second time. Yesterday multihull sailor Steve Fossett and match-racing champion Cory Sertl won this accolade in the US, while on the same day Open 60 skipper Bernard Stamm picked the Swiss equivalent, both prize honouring the winner's achievements in sailing during 2001.
Over in the US, Fossett was named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. The world record-setting skipper of the 125' maxi-catamaran PlayStation was cited by a distinguished panel of sailing journalists for his five new world records set during the past calendar year - Miami to New York, New York to the Lizard, during which he established a new 24 Hour record. These were followed by new records set for sailing round the Isle of Wight and the Cross Channel Record from Cowes-St Malo.
The most significant of these were undoubtedly the transatlantic record, demolishing the previous record belonging to Jet Services V that has stood resolutely for 11 years. While the previous record stood for 11 years at more than 6 days, Fossett took it down to just 4 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes, 6 seconds, sailing the 2,900 mile voyage at a formidable average of 26 knots. During this time they also broke the outright record for the most number of miles sailed in 24 Hour raising this to 687.17 nautical miles (28.63 kts average speed).
Cory Sertl, who also was the 1995 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, was cited by the panel for her versatility in two disciplines: fleet racing and one-on-one match racing. She also showed prowess both as a skipper and a crew at several different regattas throughout the year. Her victories included the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship and a second at the 2001 Yngling North Americans as crew for Jody Swanson.
Stamm was elected Yachtsman of the Year in Switzerland by the 6000 members of the Swiss Cruising Club for setting a new transatlantic record of 8 days, 20 hours and 56 minutes for the crossing from New York to the Lizard, setting a new monohull 24 hour record in the process. These records were set in early 2001 aboard Stamm's Open 60 Bobst Group/Armor Lux.
The transatlantic record only came about following Stamm's withdrawal early on in the Vendee Globe, due to autopilot problems. His trophy will be handed over today in Saint-Prex, the village where he was born, during a celebration arranged in his honour, which will bring together his family, friends and the heads of the Swiss Cruising Club.
Fossett and Sertl will be honoured at a press conference and luncheon at the New York Yacht Club on February 15, where he also will be presented with a Rolex timepiece.
"The last time I won this award," said Sertl, "it wasn’t for winning a lot of regattas so much as it was for consistently doing well. This time around, it's more satisfying having won some regattas that I'm really proud of."
"I'm a happy, happy guy," said Fossett. "It is very gratifying to be recognized by my peers in the sport, especially for the kind of sailing I do."
It has been a very busy holiday season of awards for Fossett. Since December (including today's Rolex recognition) Steve and the PlayStation crew have received seven major awards.
Bernard Stamm's Bobst Group/Armor Lux