2016

January
Winner:HAKAN SVENSSON (SWE)

An extraordinary supporter of sailing, both behind the scenes and occasionally front of house. This childhood buddy of gold medallist Freddy Lööf has also backed other campaigns including Ken Read’s Puma and Ian Walker’s original Green Dragon. More recently he took over production of the M32 catamaran and acquired the World Match Racing Tour. And so the M32 match racer was born – outstanding!

February
Winner:BRIAN THOMPSON (GBR)

What a year Brian has had, grabbing the reigns of the MOD 70 Phaedo3 with owner Lloyd Thornburg, wracking up race win after race win and record after record. The competition has come and gone but the Phaedo crew have been unstoppable. In our opinion their finest result was snapping at the heels of the giant Spindrift 2 all the way around the Fastnet course before finishing just minutes behind

March
Winner:RANDY DRAFTZ (USA)

One of the unsung heroes of the US scene... As many other big regattas struggle, both in the US and elsewhere, Draftz has worked away tackling the issue from the ground up, rather than the other way around. All of this effort has been focussed on developing Sperry Charleston Race Week, which has very quietly now grown into perhaps the biggest and most successful event of its kind

April
Winner:ROB GREENHALGH (GBR)

Another sailor putting heart and soul into advancing the big boat scene is Britain’s finest... Volvo veteran and multiple skiff, Int 14 and Moth champion Greenhalgh has now spent over 18-months on point as a bunch of owners and sailors work together to get the Fast40+ initiative up and rolling. Right now it looks like the boy done good, with 14 boats registered for their first season as a class including several new designs

May
Winner:HUGH WELBOURN (GBR)

Like the uphill struggle facing our wing rig innovators, Hugh Welbourn and his small team have had to battle for acceptance of their DSS stability concept. Our nomination timing is prompted by the very significant announcement that McConaghy Boats are to start building two DSS designs in China. Meanwhile, the first DSS Infiniti 46 will begin racing in earnest shortly… confidence is high!

June
Winner:ANDREJ JUSTIN (SLO)

An under-rated talent. Justin first came to prominence in the racing world when he teamed up with qualified engineer (and not a bad sailor) Russell Coutts to create the RC44 – as good an example of ‘boat fits purpose’ as you will come across. But Justin’s latest design, the L-30 (pg46) really is something else. Commissioned for Rodion Luka’s Ukraine initiative, the L-30 will find a far wider market as soon as word is out

July
Winner:MARK TURNER (GBR)

Another solo event that historically attracted both the very best sailors as well as a sometimes quirky fleet of yachts was the Transat. But, started in 1960, the race had quietly faded from public consciousness as higher-profile events like the Route du Rhum and Vendée Globe stepped in. New Volvo Race CEO Mark Turner – a bit of a traditionalist – was not prepared to see the event die and fought to save it. The 2016 edition was a pleasing vindication of his efforts

August
Winner:PHIL SHARP (GBR)

Good to have you back, buddy. Phil Sharp relaunched himself on the singlehanded ocean racing scene in May when he dragged his ailing Class40 across the finish line in 3rd place in the Transat – having led most of the way. Ten years after dominating the Class40 in the 2006 Route du Rhum Sharp is now getting ready to begin a 2020 Vendée Globe campaign, having at long last secured the backing he needs to demonstrate some prodigious talent

September
Winner:FAHAD AL HASNI (OMA)

A regular member of Sidney Gavignet’s crew on Musandam-Oman Sail, Al Hasni was one of three Omani sailors onboard when the blue MOD 70 set a new round Ireland record and took line honours in this year’s race of the same name. But Oman Sail had trailed her American rival Phaedo3 almost to the end, before pouncing in the fast-fading breeze with less than a mile left to go and scraping home just a few metres ahead

October
Winner:SANTIAGO LANGE (ARG)

A feel-good story that takes feel-good up another notch. Prior to Rio Lange had won two bronze medals in the Tornado – at Athens 2004 and at Beijing in 2008. Then in 2013 he was diagnosed with cancer. During six months of treatment, Lange, as he freely admits, became obsessed with making it to Rio. Aged 54, he was the regatta’s oldest competitor when he and crew Cecilia Saroli took Nacra 17 gold after the most dramatic of Medal Races

November
Winner:JOHN BERTRAND (AUS)

Given the stellar line-up of world champions, America’s Cup sailors and tacticians and Olympic medallists, you could have been forgiven for not expecting the Finn bronze medallist of 1976 to still be box office 40 years later at the 2016 Etchells Worlds. In fact, JB cleaned up, adding another title to a formidable CV that includes that epoch-setting win in the 1983 America’s Cup, making him the toast of the New York Yacht Club…

December
Winner:CLAUDIA ROSSI (ITA)

Got a decent pedigree has our Claudia. Her dad is ‘enfant terrible’ ORC world champion Alberto Rossi and Claudia also did a nice job preserving family honour with a strong fifth-place finish at the breezy J/70 Worlds in San Francisco. Nine top-five finishes in a 70-boat fleet rammed with what felt like every good pro-sailor on the planet suggests we will be hearing a lot more about Italy’s latest speedy driver. A nice career on the Mediterranean maxi circuit awaits