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Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year announced

by PPL 8 Jan 2004 12:18 GMT

5-times Class 1 World Powerboat Champion Steve Curtis has received the sailing world’s most prestigious accolade, the 2003 Raymarine Yachting Journalists’ Association Yachtsman of the Year Award – the first powerboat winner since 1990. The winner of the title of Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year 2003 is 15 year-old Sebastian Clover, the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic single-handed.

The title of Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year recognises British sporting excellence in power or sail. This year’s winner is Steve Curtis, who is the current Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Champion, after winning the Championship for an unprecedented fifth time. Racing with Norwegian Bjorn Gjelsten aboard ‘Spirit of Norway’, they won the championship in October 2003 with victory in the Qatar Grand Prix – their 5th win in six races this year. Curtis and Gjelsten are also European and Pole Position champions.

Steve Curtis was runner-up to Olympic and world sailing champion Ben Ainslie in last year’s Yachtsman of the Year awards, and has been a leading light in the world of powerboat racing for more than two decades. The 39 year old from Southampton has proved himself to be the world’s top throttle man, controlling the speed of his 160mph ‘Spirit of Norway’ working closely in sync with helmsman Bjorn Gjelsten when cornering and navigating through big seas.

In 2003 Steve was awarded the Segrave Trophy for the most outstanding demonstration of transportation by land, air or water. He has won 17 Class One Grand Prix, appeared on the podium 24 times and claimed 18 pole positions.

The title of Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year recognises endeavour and achievement by young British sailors under the age of 19, youngsters who have made a significant impact on youth sailing. This year’s winner is 15 year-old Sebastian Clover, from the Isle of Wight, the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic single-handed. On 19 December 2002 he set sail from Tenerife in the Contessa 32 ‘Reflection’ in a race against his father, who was sailing in an identical yacht. Sebastian arrived in Antigua on 12 January 2003, just one day behind his father.

For almost 600 miles of the race Sebastian was accompanied by a curious whale, which came perilously close to his yacht on several occasions. He also had to repair a shroud fixing which broke during heavy weather.

Tracy Edwards MBE, who was named Yachtsman of the Year in 1989, announced the winners today at the Schroder’s 50th London International Boat Show.

The awards are voted for by members of The Yachting Journalists’ Association, following nominations from the public of those who achieved most in the world of sail and power during the past season. In addition, the Royal Yachting Association put forward winners from each of its 13 RYA regions for the Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year Award.

Runners-up for Raymarine/YJA Yachtsman of the Year are solo circumnavigator Emma Richards and 49er Class Olympic hopefuls Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks.

Runners-up for Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year are Britain’s top Optimist Sailor 15 year-old Hannah Mills, winner of the 2002 Young Sailor of the Year Award; 420 Champions Luke Patience and Adam Wagner, aged 17 and 16 respectively; and 16 year-old Laser sailor Campbell Davidson.

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