James Spithill and Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are the new ISAF Rolex Sailors of the Year-their names were revealed at an awards ceremony at Pueblo Español in Palma de Mallorca (Balearics, Spain).
THE PROPONENT OF THE IMPOSSIBLE “REMUNTADA”
Spithill, a 35-year-old Australian, was nominated for leading Oracle Team USA in one of the most incredible comebacks in sailing history, that against Team New Zealand in the 2013 America’s Cup Final (1-8 to 9-8). Spithill, who we also know well since he was helmsman of Luna Rossa reaching the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007. In 2000 he was aboard Young Australia, becoming the youngest helmsman in America’s Cup history, in 2003 with OneWorld. After his experience with Prada, he switched with the Americans. This is the third Australian to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, following Mat Belcher (2013) and Tom Slingsby (2010).
THE CHAMPIONS “NEVER SAY NEVER”
Despite their young age (both are 23), their nomination was hardly a surprise: the two Brazilians Martine Grael (daughter of the family) and Kahena Kunze proved virtually unbeatable among the 49er FX over the course of 2013, winning almost every leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup. Above all, they never give up: they won the World Championship roaringly, gaining the lead during the last windward leg of the final medal race. They are the fourth Brazilians to receive the prestigious award: Torben Grael (who is none other than Martine’s father!) won it in 2009 and Robert Scheidt in 2001 and 2004.
Do you agree with the jury’s verdict? Which sailors do you think are missing from the roll call?
The other candidates vying for the award were:
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS)
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL)
Bill Hardesty (USA)
Giles Scott (GBR)
Steph Bridge (GBR)
Charline Picon (FRA)