Ian Walker has been named boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year. Ian, from Warsash in Hampshire, became the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race in the event's 37 year history, when he led Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to victory in the 2014/15 event. Ian and his team also won the in-port race series and set a 24-hour distance record of an incredible 550.82 nautical miles.
This performance impressed the country’s foremost sailing journalists, with YJA members voting him the eventual winner from a closely contested shortlist of nominees that included Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams from Lymington, and Finn Class champion Giles Scott, from Weymouth.
Ian Walker joins an illustrious list of former winners, including Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Sir Ben Ainslie; Tracy Edwards MBE, Keith Musto MBE and Rodney Pattisson MBE, to name but a few. Regarded by many as “the knighthood of yachting” (see “Knighthood of Yachting” celebrates 60 years), the honour is awarded by the Yachting Journalists’ Association.
boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year
The Young Sailor of the Year Award was first awarded in 1993 and recognises endeavour and achievement by Britain’s upcoming young sailors. Eleanor Poole, from Dunsford in Devon, impressed members of the YJA, by garnering a string of firsts to win the 2015 Topper National championships at the age of 14, as well as securing an impressive seventh at the 2015 Topper World Championship on Lake Garda, Italy.
Eleanor topped a strong shortlist of up-and-coming young talents that included Jack Lewis from Rugby and Cameron Tweedle from Oxfordshire.
Lifetime Achievement Award
A special award was also given to make the Diamond Jubilee of the Yachting Journalists’ Association. Mike Peyton, who has been described as ‘The world’s foremost yachting cartoonist,’ was named as the recipient of a special YJA Diamond Jubilee Lifetime Achievement Award (see: Mike Peyton honoured by YJA). Peyton, who celebrated his 95th birthday on January 8th, has been a unique commentator on the sailing scene for more than 60 years. His cartoons have been published in scores of magazines from Japan to America, the antipodes and every sailing magazine in Britain.
Comedian and sailor Griff Rhys Jones says of Peyton: “He captures the anti-glamour of yachting.’ Sir Robin Knox-Johnston says: “Mike’s been my favourite yachting cartoonist for decades.” Sponsored by boats.com, the global online resource for boating enthusiasts to explore, discover and research, the awards were presented by Ian Atkins, president of boats.com and Paul Gelder, chairman of the YJA. Ian Atkins, president of boats.com, said: “I was delighted to reveal the winners of the boats.com YJA Yachtsman and Young Sailor of the Year awards today. The event marks our second year as sponsors, and we’re pleased to be part of this historic event in its 60th year. As a long-time competitive sailor myself, I feel strongly about being involved in a framework that rewards the most deserving yachtsmen. I'd like to say a huge congratulations to both Ian and Eleanor on behalf of boats.com." Paul Gelder, chairman of The Yachting Journalists’ Association added: "Ian Walker is one of Britain’s most successful sailors and we’re delighted to see his name added to the illustrious winners of our trophy."