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2019

 January
Winner:BORIS HERRMANN (GER)

Softly softly the non Francophile presence in the Imoca fleet is growing – timely too as we approach the first use of the class in the ‘not Volvo’ race. Finishing a good 5th in the Rhum as skipper of the well-organised Yacht Club de Monaco entry for the next Vendée, Herrmann, like his fellow German Vendée challenger Jörg Riechers, has impeccable credentials including being a regular member of Francis Joyon’s elite little band of brothers

 February
Winner:JORGE ZARIF (BRA)

Talk about the man of the moment. Zarif has a long history of success in the Finn class including winning the Gold Cup aged 20 while holding the Junior Silver Cup (still the only person ever to do so). Then in 2018 he paid the Star class some attention, winning the worlds and, perhaps even more impressive, seeing off the most star-studded fleet ever to win the Star Sailors League and become the closest thing to sailing’s International Champion of Champions

 March
Winner:SIMON FRY (GBR)

Ok, a second Dragon world title in a row meant we finally had to give in and allow a little credit to one of the most ubiquitous and best-liked sailors in the world who is also– it breaks our heart to admit it – quite good as well. Stirfry raced a One Tonner with the editor in the year of our Lord 1989 so, in spite of what you may think, he’s not a young man… But he is a top bloke with more big wins under his (ample) belt than he would most probably ever own up to.

 April
Winner:ROD DAVIS (NZL)

‘I’m over the moon…’ not surprising after the Olympic gold medallist super-coach won the Masters division at the OK Worlds –much more impressively finishing ninth overall in the 110-boat open fleet. Putting it out there like that is not something every former Cup sailor chooses to do – one or two have come unstuck in the not so distant past. Rod was also happy to be able to follow his own methods as recorded in these pages and see for himself that it works!

 May
Winner:STACEY JACKSON (AUS)

Jeez… where to start. This must be what they mean by ‘going viral’, the whole world was banging on our door to make this (deserved) nomination. A Volvo racer with SCA and a veteran of most things from skiffs to maxis, Stacey pulled together a really excellent all-woman crew for the last Hobart and then finished second overall. Big at raising awareness of ocean health and women in sport – we were not brave enough to ignore the mob…

 June
Winner:BRANDON LINTON (AUS)

Not for building the mighty Comanche with his boatbuilding partner Tim Hacket, nor for all the other fast machines he has put on the water over the years, this nomination is for leading the team that took a McConaghy 38 one design and pared it back to just the hull shell before then rebuilding it as a half-scale working AC75 with all the systems operating and the boat up and foiling reliably within days of first getting wet. Go, the American Magic!

 July
Winner:ASIA PAJKOWSKA (POL)

While the Golden Globe fleet was making its gentle (sorry, VDH) way around the globe there were others less well-known out there doing the same but on an even more personal level. The first Polish woman to complete a solo non-stop round the world voyage, Pajkowska onboard her aluminium 40-footer started three months after the Golden Globe but beat the race’s last finisher Tapio Lehtinen home by over four weeks…

 August
Winner:JAMES LYNE (USA)

About time we put up one for the guys behind the scenes… Lyne must surely now have the best record in big boat coaching in the world? (Letters, please) A string of TP52 success with Quantum Racing plus Maxi72, Melges 24 and Farr40s titles, he is now head coach at the New York YC’s Terry Hutchinson-led American Magic Cup challenge. This former Finn and Flying Dutchman sailor – bit big now, lad – is also a Pom by birth. Should never have let him go

 September
Winner:ROY P DISNEY (USA)

Compared to many the rescue was not all that dramatic, especially with the almost ridiculous level of ocean racing experience Roy Disney pulled together for the 50th Transpac. But that is also why Pyewacket’s rescue of the crew of the sinking OEX should be recognised – there were other less fancied yachts a similar distance from the stricken boat but it was an instant call to abandon his own race and do the right thing… sadly not everyone is always quite so selfless

 October
Winner:ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION CULDROSE (GBR)

Forty years ago more than 100 vessels took part in the ’79 Fastnet rescue, but we doubt anyone will argue with our choice of the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose to represent all of those involved. Fifteen helicopters from Culdrose flew multiple missions that night as crews rushed back from holidays. Nineteen sailors died but 100 more were lifted off by Culdrose crews plus 65 others rescued by sea

 November
Winner:STUART CHILDERLEY (GBR)

Finn Olympian, twice Etchells world champion, and now, having put similar effort into a new role one of the world’s best and most sought after professional race officers. (He also won the 2-handed class in the 2015 Fastnet by 14 seconds). And now: ‘Today is a special day for me. I will be going to the Tokyo Olympics as a race officer. It has been a long and steady journey for me and I am extremely thankful to everyone for all the support’

 December
Winner:TAKASHI OKURA (USA)

After many years of supporting the TP52 Super Series and steadily improving each year, something wild happened just before Takashi Okura’s TP52 team arrived in Sardinia for the last round of 2019. Sled opened with a win and then three more good races. And then... and then they opened the taps and reeled off five wins in a row – never seen before in this fleet