Rohart and Rambeau's win in the 2003 Star Worlds means that 'recent' Finn sailors have taken every world title since Sydney. As well as reinvigorating an already strong class, fresh ideas and new techniques have (again) lifted the Star above criticism of its Olympic status. Rohart's win was both popular and widely respected. 'Relatively' young perhaps, but this talented Frenchman is always ready to help newcomers to the fleet in the greatest traditions of the class


14 years old and already a senior class world champion, Shark Kahn put in the legwork and pushed multiple champion Harry Melges down into the runner-up spot at this year's well-attended Melges 24 Worlds in San Francisco. Top crew and professionally prepared boat perhaps, but so had plenty of the opposition. Kahn did it the old-fashioned way, practice practice practice. Now he is turning his attention to the 505 and maybe the 4ger classes. Time is certainly on his side


Let's make it hard this month. In a period of just 12 months sailing's patronage by Juan Carlos immeasurably boosted the revived Admiral's Cup in Cowes and has helped Spain to secure not only the start of the next Volvo Ocean Race but also the 2007 America's Cup. Recently his own results in IMS have not sparkled as once they did, but HRH builds new boats and keeps turning up, dragging a hoard of serious sponsorship along as he does so. Sailing can be grateful for the enthusiasm


However... up against the talented skiff specialist is the French sailor who is currently rewriting the long-distance record books. Tempting fate with this nomination – we don't think so. Joyon's seamanship so far has been magnificent, proving once again that he remains the shorthander's shorthander. And as he proved in the 2000 singlehanded transatlantic race, he knows how to make a boat sail fast as well as safely. And a 90ft tri, singlehanded ...


So, kids, what did your maths teacher do when he retired? VDH made it a ~ personal quest to set one of the toughest of all solo records, non-stop and the 'wrong way', a record untouched for over 10 years. At the time of writing VDH looked set to destroy the old best time of Philippe Monnet by about a month (sic). We don't believe in curses, so we're confident that this popular lover of shorthanded ocean sailing is going to do it... this time. Please don't let us down!


A more popular win you would be pushed to find. '" When the relatively diminutive Portuguese team won this year's hugely competitive Bacardi Cup with a day to spare no one begrudged them their win. Portugal's 4ger representative at Sydney has made a seamless transition to the premier keelboat class, proving particularly adept whenever difficult conditions make for a more cerebral competition ... Miami in March 2004 was just the ticket


Up until it smashed the Transatlantic record Cheyenne/PlayStation was looking a bit of a white elephant. Now, with more freeboard and the experience to push the boat hard, Fossett's well-managed team have destroyed the Jules Verne as well (regardless of French politics). Fossett's patience and persistence in pursuing records in ocean sailing is all the more impressive as he obviously has so many other toy shops available in which to enjoy his record-breaking obsession!


Brian Thompson's record in offshore multihulls (and more recently Open Class monos) is almost without equal. Only fate meant he missed out on Cheyenne's victorious transatlantic run last year, to add to Thompson's otherwise fullhouse of round-the-world, best 24-hour run and numerous shorter course records. Thompson is one of the quiet stars of ocean racing, increasingly recognised as a giant of the big multihulls, but never one caught crowing about his achievements


Pindar's enthusiastic support for endeavour sets a fine example. The backer of ocean racers such as Emma Richards (above) and Mike Sanderson, he now also supports some of the UK's best young sailors. Always acting in the spirit of the sea, during the Around Alone Pindar was quick to lend support (and a mast) to rivals. His latest gesture, sending his hospitality trawler to help the rescue of J-P Dick's Virbac, was typical of his far-sighted and generous attitude


Having retired from competitive sailing after playing a central part in the success of the Netherland's 1999 Admiral's Cup Team, De Ridder has come back at some pace in the past two years. Having now racked up numerous major victories in the Farr 40 and Mumm 30 classes, his latest win, at the 2004 Mumm 30 Europeans, further confirmed the fact that the owner-driver classes have seen many formerly successful raceboat owners discover that they can also be pretty handy on the handlebars!


The 2004 Copa del Rey Agua Brava saw Caixa Galicia skipper Vicente Tirado complete an unprecedented hat-trick of wins in the 'senior' IMS 500 division. Since first hitting the front in IMS 500 with the first Caixa (ex-Innovision) in 1999 a massive commitment to new boat development and carefully planned and executed campaigning has turned in result after result. Also not to be overlooked is the success of Tirado's longterm pairing with his tactician and Seahorse contributor - Dee Smith


The ribbing has gone on long enough; the fact that the US pair finally won their long overdue gold medal in the agile 'little' 470 class in Athens with a combined age of 87 years only really confirms the extraordinary dedication of both men. Most sailors of such talent abandon the smaller and more physical dinghy classes the moment they have enough silverware to gain elevation to higher-profile arenas. These two had plenty of 'silver', but they wanted gold