2012

January
Winner:NIKLAS ZENNSTROM (SWE)

What shall we choose for basing this on… Zennström’s win at the final Audi MedCup round, as an owner-driver racing against some of the best professional helms, winning a second Fastnet back to back, doing the same with a second Maxi world title? To prepare for his MedCup campaign Zennström spent a chilly British winter practicing steering on his Farr 45. The Skype co-founder does few things by halves

February
Winner:GRANT ‘LOUIE’ LORETZ (NZL)

In 2011 Louie won his third MedCup in a row, two with ETNZ and the latest with Quantum. Of course, as one of the world’s most talented and sought-after sail trimmers Louie has also won quite a few other prizes… The America’s Cup for ‘one’, plus most of the great inshore and offshore regattas of the world – including the last ‘proper’ Admiral’s Cup back in 1999 when he was a shipmate of our sainted editor

March
Winner:MATT CASSIDY (USA)

Lots of people have been chasing us to nominate Matt (those Christmas cards are working), but there is no doubt the roll of honour is plenty long enough to agree with them. Just a few from a long list… bowman on Team Aqua, winner of the RC44 Tour this year and mid-bow with Ed Baird on the TP52Quantum Racing, then back on point with three-time world match race champion Ian Williams… Job done

April
Winner:CONRAD COLMAN (NZL)

Get voting, Sam… The winners of Leg 2 of the Global Ocean Race sailed into Wellington with a secret. Only once close family had been informed was it confirmed that Sam Goodchild had fallen overboard from the pair’s Class 40 approaching New Zealand in very rough conditions and had only been saved after a lengthy demonstration of quite exemplary seamanship on the part of his calm Kiwi co-skipper

May
Winner:HAP FAUTH (USA)

It’s easy to forget that sailing – in spite of all the noise around media and shore-based fans – continues to be one of the world’s great participation sports. And at its heart are tens of thousands of passionate enthusiasts… like Hap Fauth. Impatient for the launch of his latest Bella Mente, Fauth chartered a TP52 for Key West and got stuck in, steering with a tiller for the first time in years. And he did good. Here’s one for the enthusiasts who are this sport

June
Winner:DARREN ‘TWIRLER’ JONES (AUS)

Another unsung hero with multiple world titles in the Farr 30, Farr 40 and Swan 45 classes, to name but three. Plenty of other major titles in the Etchells and Melges 32 classes and a handy set of results on the left coast in the sleds. Plus, and maybe more important, this Hobart native’s got a pretty scary fan club who have been leaning on us for a while… Sailmaker, trimmer and all-round top bloke. Good enough…

July
Winner:BRUCE KIRBY (CAN)

Who else could we put up against today’s man of influence but the great Canadian designer and sailor who gave the world the Laser – and so changed the face of international one-design competition. Kirby also recently scored another major result for the design community, when he wrestled back the rights to his little singlehander, setting an important copyright precedent that will benefit

August
Winner:GILES SCOTT (GBR)

Ben Ainslie’s training partner signed off his 2012 Olympic Finn campaign in eloquent style by beating his outstanding rival into 2nd place in the UK Finn championships, having slotted in the 2011 Finn Gold Cup very gracefully following Ainslie’s fracas in Perth. Now racing AC45s, Scott’s main Finn rivals for Rio 2016 already look likely to be previous Gold Cup holder Ed Wright and fellow GBR rising-star Andrew Mills

September
Winner:DEE SMITH (USA)

This one’s not for any of Dee’s many and varied racing achievements, nor in recognition of his valuable contributions to Seahorse… it is a good way, though, to flag up the terrific work that this American pro sailor has been doing to raise money for cancer research with the Leukemia Cup regattas. Dee is himself now a Stage 4 lung cancer survivor with 5 years of recovery – the odds for this being around 3 per cent. Good effort by a good friend to sailing

October
Winner:TONY LANGLEY (GBR)

He won in Sardinia in June and he took another race off the big TP52 teams in Palma at the Royal Cup. The success of owner-drivers like Tony Langley is key to the future prosperity of the new TP52 SuperSeries, and so far he’s doing them a pretty good job! Timely confirmation too of the effectiveness of the rating work being done by the organisers of this series in matching new and old, TP52 and IRC52 alike

November
Winner:DAVID HOWLETT (GBR)

Of course we backed Ben for a third gold in the Finn, but as much as wanting the result for Ainslie we wanted to be able to direct more credit to his loyal coach David Howlett. Always a brilliant technical mind in one-designs, with his own track record in the Finn to prove it, Howlett found the perfect ‘client’ with Ainslie whose dedication to doing the best possible job with the machinery available is peerless

December
Winner:OSCAR MEAD (GBR)

Not a bad sailor (like his dad), at age 18 Mead was the youngest skipper to enter the OSTAR three years ago, finishing 6th. Since then, prompted by the drowning last year of a UK sailor, securely tethered to his yacht but unable to keep his head above water, Mead has been developing a new harness intended to ensure that in a similar situation the victim is towed backwards and face-up, to minimize the deadly ingress of spray and water