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2021

 January
Winner:JEAN LE CAM (FRA)

In the 1997 Whitbread it was Paul Cayard and his brutal talk of firehoses on deck that kept followers of the race locked onto the news coming off the eventual race winner. In this Vendée Globe that mantle has landed with King Jean, who introduced himself to thousands of new fans by hogging the limelight in the opening weeks of the race by refusing to lie down with the other old boats as he ‘should’. And then there came prose to turn Moitessier green with envy…

 February
Winner:NATASHA LAMBERT (GBR)

Currently mid-Atlantic with four other crew in her quest to become the first sailor to cross the pond using only breath and tongue to control her big 46ft cat. The 23-year-old suffers with athetoid cerebral palsy and has no use of her arms and legs. Lambert has already crossed the English Channel as well as a dauntingly impressive singlehanded lap of the Isle of Wight. In her free time… she is busy fundraising for her own sailing school as well as the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust

 March
Winner:DAN BERNASCONI (NZL)

Somewhere along the line someone important will have said to Team New Zealand’s head of design ‘Is this thing actually going to work?’ on seeing a first impression of the AC75. While Guillaume Verdier and Benjamin Muyl had the original idea, based on a smaller boat they were working on, it was Bernasconi the Cup Defender turned to when it came to the heavy lifting. And all the time in the background were the murmurs of doubt coming from the Challenger of Record…

 April
Winner:KOJIRO SHIRAISHI (JPN)

Shiraishi started the Vendée Globe on a new design but with the stated intention to finish the race first and then see where he was in the final results. Such humility and openness are rare in big events that require very large sponsorship to take part in. The very open approach is partly to respect his mentor, the late BOC class winner and Tokyo taxi driver Yukoh Tada. Dr Mori, the founder of his sponsor DMG, also respected someone who told it straight. And Kojiro did finish

 May
Winner:RUFUS HENRY (NZL)

After a quick brainstorm we realised there is one ‘right’ nomination to represent the whole of Emirates Team New Zealand. Rufus is the younger brother of Te Rehutai grinder Finn Henry and is the team’s ‘Everywhere Man’, a job Rufus has carried out superbly (also scaring his chaseboat co-driver whenever he can). The America’s Cup prizegiving was the chance at last for the world to see that there is a lot more to this team than 11 extraordinary sailors (plus Grant Dalton!)

 June
Winner:BRANDON LINTON (USA)

Nominated to represent the whole amazing shore crew at American Magic for putting a completely broken example of the most complicated type of sailboat known to man back together in 11 days. They did it and had it been earlier in the competition when their rivals were less well-settled it may even have been enough to stay in the game. No matter, to get a smashed AC75 back out there and around the course at all in those two final very windy races was an epic achievement

 July
Winner:ANDY MALONEY (NZL)

Crikey, could the Team GBR hegemony of the Finn class finally be at an end… just before the Tokyo Games? When six-time Gold Cup winner Ben Ainslie retired his position was immediately filled by Giles Scott (four Gold Cups). But after a long break for the 2021 America’s Cup Scott finished only ninth at the 2021 event –where Andy Maloney took the prize ahead of Joan Cardona (ESP) and Kiwi defending champion Josh Junior. If Tokyo happens, this will get interesting

 August
Winner:PETE CUNNINGHAM (CAY)

Any man who gets around the Fastnet course in 24 hours gets our respect but when that person was born in 1941 (we’re too polite ever to mention Peter’s age) then we think that makes it more than the usual bit special. Peter Cunningham is best known as a big multihull sailor with his MOD70 Powerplay, which won the last RORC Caribbean 600. Last year also saw him in action in the Cayman Islands racing his J/70 and J/22. Also racing with Andy Beadsworth in Dragons where his team was third in the HM King Juan Carlos Trophy in Cascais.

 September
Winner:ERIC DOYLE (USA)

Sailing with Tom Olsen, Doyle won the Star Worlds back in 1999 and he has clearly not lost the knack, winning this year’s midwinters in Miami with a scoreline of 2,1,1,1,1,1,1,8 racing now with Payson Infelise. To put some context to this achievement, the next places were filled by Augie Diaz, Paul Cayard and John McCausland, all of them also previous Star World Champions. Doyle’s final tally of 8pt put him 17pt ahead of 2nd-place Miami specialist Diaz

 October
Winner:MARTINE GRAEL/KAHENA KUNZE (BRA)

Following her previous success at Rio 2016 Martine chilled out for a while by competing in the Volvo Ocean Race on AkzoNobel –which she was aboard when the Dutch entry broke the 24-hour record set by her father Torben 10 years before. Now there is talk in Brazil of Martine hooking up with Dad and her now double gold medal 49er FX crew in the 2022 Ocean Race. There are plenty more fast Graels to make up the numbers if needed