2007

January
Winner:IAN WILLIAMS (GBR)

Brave fella… with a rewarding legal career seemingly put on permanent hold, Ian Williams has campaigned tirelessly ­– and privately – to make an impact on the world match-race circuit. After coming so close to a first big win last month, Williams took the final step in winning this year’s Bermuda Gold Cup – the launch platform for quite a few successful America’s Cup careers. Buy now while prices remain low…

February
Winner:PHIL SHARP (GBR)

More fortunate was English skipper Phil Sharp, who defeated a tough fleet to take the Class 40 prize in this year’s Route du Rhum, with a healthy margin over second-placed finisher and professional Figaro racer Gildas Morvan. To add significance to Sharp’s victory, his was the only entry in this year’s Class 40 fleet not to enjoy the support of a title sponsor. Twenty-four other Class 40 sponsors might bear this in mind.

March
Winner:MIKE GOLDING (GBR)

Not only did Golding bash his way back uphill in the Southern Ocean to rescue fellow competitor Alex Thomson, but the alert solo skipper had already started to slow down after getting concerned about his rival’s poor progress. No one will ever know if the extra wear to Golding’s Ecover may have cost him a race win, but such considerations did not – and do not – seem to unduly concern this fine seaman.

April
Winner:GRANT DALTON (NZL)

Why and why now… because by putting the fight – and money – back into what has become Emirates Team New Zealand this former Whitbread Race winner has made the next few months in Valencia a lot more interesting. We know this team will fight hard, and having seen the latest boat from the mighty BMW Oracle we know that ETNZ are on the button in terms of design. Alinghi apart, of course…

May
Winner:LINDSAY MAY (AUS)

We thought long and hard about this last month, but we will now happily succumb to the pressure and nominate Lindsay May for his bravura performance winning the recent Hobart Race on the late Peter Kurts’ beautiful ­Love & War. In fact we had considered nominating Kurtsie himself posthumously, but we actually found that too tough a call. Hopefully all you CYCA boys and girls will now rise to this worthy invitation

June
Winner:SILJA LEHTINEN (FIN)

ISAF World No1 Claire Leroy (FRA) came to the JP Morgan match race winter challenge as clear favourite, but left having been seen off 3-0 in the final by Yngling racer and former 29er World Champion Silja Lehtinen. The talented young Finn is a busy girl, racing the Yngling and match racing ‘for real’, racing a 49er (fast) ‘for fun and for publicity’ and studying medicine the rest of the time (sic) to qualify as a doctor…

July
Winner:LIZ WARDLEY (AUS)

Born in the tiny town of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea – since destroyed in a volcanic eruption – it is easy to see why this Australian-raised skipper was taken to heart by the French establishment. After a win in the ’99 Hobart and a tough 2001/2 Volvo Race, Liz has competed on the Figaro circuit since 2004, most ­recently finishing a fantastic fourth in the 3,436nm singlehanded Trophée BPE transatlantic race on Sojasun

August
Winner:DAVE ULLMAN (USA)

61 years old he may be but the former 470 whizz and successful (very) Californian ­sailmaker showed the way round in this year’s tough and windy Melges 24 world championships sailed in the fabulous big waves of Santa Cruz. In second place going into the final big wind race, Ullman watched series’ leader Brian Porter capsize and coolly dropped his chute to ensure a safe finish and lock up another world title

September
Winner:GRAHAM DALTON (NZL)

Some people can turn a success out of defeat and on his second solo round-the-world race Graham Dalton assuaged the myriad failures of his first Around Alone, persevering on through the harshest circumstances, this time largely not self-inflicted, while honouring the memory of his late son after whom his boat is named. That eventually time ran out for this brave Kiwi was almost irrelevant. A fine achievement

October
Winner:TOM SLINGSBY (AUS)

After losing the 2006 world title on the last day in Korea, Tom Slingsby topped a 149-strong Laser fleet in Cascais, with four ­bullets to slay his demons and ensure that he goes into the Olympic year as the reigning Laser world champion. Success in Cascais means he has won three out of six big events in 2007, finishing second in Miami and Hyères and a ‘lowly’ fifth in Palma. Now what will Robert Scheidt race in China…

November
Winner:CHRIS STEELE (NZL)

How popular would you be, back home in New Zealand, if you just became the first Kiwi ever to win the Optimist World Title… and you did it in an extraordinarily competitive 254-strong fleet? Given the current interest in future prospects of the youngest competitors in the more technical sports, we reckon this young man will soon find himself the focus of considerable attention

December
Winner:GEOFF HOLT (GBT)

‘At 04.30 in the morning it’s horrible, and I’m only a few inches above the water…’ It took the quadriplegic skipper a total of 109 days to complete his 1,400nm solo voyage around Great Britain on his 15ft trimaran, 53 of them at sea, often for 10 hours at a time – the most that Holt’s body’s thermal- management system can handle. ‘Remarkable’ doesn’t come close