2003

January
Winner:JAMES SPITHILL (AUS/USA)

It is a measure of the solid strengths of the One World challenge that Peter Gilmour felt comfortable, not only to. Ai hand over the helm in Round 1 of the Louis Vuitton Cup, but also to occasionally stay off the boat altogether. That said, Spithill has risen to the task and taken full benefit of the opportunity originally provided to him and others in the One World camp by Sid Fischer's lowbudget, youth-centred challenge in 2000

February
Winner:EMMA RICHARDS (GBR)

What a flippin' star! Having avowed to steer clear of solo ocean races, Emma soon realised that, thanks to the success of a certain other lady racer, she had little choice. So why not kick off with a little round the world number? In all seriousness, Emma Richards' third place to Cape Town in the Around Alone, having overcome potentially disastrous equipment problems, was a magnificent result. A donf encore

March
Winner:HANNAH MILLS (GBR)

Hannah (14) won seven of 12 races in a 116 boat senior fleet at the 2002 UK Optimist champs, and the title, OK. More to the point, between races, and on a very cold day, she spots (as good sailors tend to) a much younger sailor capsized and in difficulties, sails over, pulls the younger skipper into her own boat then jumps in to right and then bailout the other boat before handing over to a rescue crew. We suggest following Hannah Mills' fortunes very closely

April
Winner:ERNESTO BERTARELLI (SUI)

While some dismiss him as just another billionaire, this couldn't be farther from the truth in describing Ernesto Bertarelli. He was unique among syndicate heads in the Louis Vuitton series for having an active role as navigator onboard Alinghi ; as a helmsman he won the 2001 Farr 40 World Championship; and as a pit man he helped Russell Coutts get to the Finals in the·2002 Swedish Match Cup. All this by 37 ... Could the Auld Mug be next on the list?

May
Winner:ROLF VROLLJK (SUI/GER)

A younger RolfVrolijk surveys the lOR fleet at the 1989 Admiral's Cup. With quiet persistence and a relatively small customer base, by the early 1990s Vrolijk had become numero uno in lOR design. He then did the same in the Mediterranean cauldron of IMS, until taking some time out for his next project! Now he has led the newly created Alinghi design team to a first-time win in the America's Cup - in which his principal US-based design rival has yet to score ...

June
Winner:PETER BROMBY & MARTIN SIESE (BER)

Dennis Conner describes Peter Bromby as one of the greatest sailors he has ever met, and regularly extends invitations to the popular Bermudan. However, Bromby and his talented team-mate Martin Siese get enough fun winning major events in the Star class. Bromby's relaxed character belies a sailor with huge self-belief, often to be found out on the wing (usually the left... ) in the confident manner of another great Star sailor, Bill Buchan, whose strong hunches took him to a gold medal in 1984

July
Winner:AUGIE DIAZ (USA)

Having dominated the Snipe class's extremely competitive US winter circuit, Diaz and crew Lori Lowe took the prestigious Zimmerman Trophy for the top-placed team across four major Snipe events as well as numerous individual prizes. In between racing his Snipe, Diaz found time to bang in some typically strong results on the Star class's winter circuit in Florida where he came up against many of the same top names, such as San Diego sailmaker George Szabo. Miami resident Diaz is popular, amusing - and very quick.

August
Winner:BERNARD STAMM (SUI)

We'll never know what might have become of Stamm and his rapid Rolland design in the last Vendee Globe, retiring soon after the start due to a lack of preparation time. Since then the pair have blasted their way to a new Atlantic monohull record, several wins on the IMOCA grand prix tour and now have utterly dominated the Around Alone, scoring 59 points out of a maximum possible of 60. The latest win has set Stamm up well for his next project, while his yacht designer should also be getting a few phone calls soon ...

September
Winner:BRAD VAN LIEW (USA)

OK, so enough of you bemoaned the omission of another US solo winner in last month's Around Alone .. selection that it was only fair to give you a second shot – making our first ever all-American line-up. Van Liew is by no means a fulltime professional sailor - he has a successful aviation business to manage when ashore. However, his performance with his refitted Finot 50 Tommy Hilfiger was as polished as it was possible to be. Professional in all but name

October
Winner:BOB OATLEY (AUS)

A year or so ago Bob Oatley asked lain Murray's Azzura Yachts to build him a flat out harbour racer for Wednesday nights in Sydney. Somewhere along the way the new Wild Oats grew offshore wings, yet when she arrived in Cowes for the 2003 Admiral's Cup her crew were still only beginning to understand their new boat. Oatley's enthusiasm for whatever ideas designers Reichel-Pugh proposed is to be applauded, but his early commitment to the embryo new-look Admiral's Cup was ~ in many ways the making of the event

November
Winner:BEN AINSLIE (GBR)

Winner of both Pre-Olympic test events in the Finn class, just as he was in the Laser class prior to Sydney 2000, Ben Ainslie has perfomed similar feats in the dinghy racing world to those of Botin & Carkeek in the area of yacht design. Both are still 'relative' new boys, both established themselves as world class in a very short space of time. As a sailor, Ainslie has that rare, fearsome combination: huge raw talent allied with unlimited personal motivation. Daunting!

December
Winner:CHRIS SAYER (NZL)

No one who reads Seahorse can be unaware of the mighty struggle Chris Sayer had to get to the start of the Mini Transat - in which he finished third on his first attempt in 1999. Having been ruled out by the organizers - who are now blaming the French government (sic) - Sayer sailed the course anyway, and at the time of writing was leading the fleet. He is nominated, however, for the extraordinarily gracious way he has taken his shabby treatment; a role model if not this year's 'champion'