Ainslie claims top honour

AWARD WINNER: Ben Ainslie

AWARD WINNER: Ben Ainslie

First published in Afloat News by

PARALYMPIC stars Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, and quadruple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie, claimed top honours at the Skandia Team GBR annual prize-giving dinner.

Skud-18 keelboat sailors Rickham and Birrell picked up the inaugural RYA Paralympic Classes Athlete of the Year trophy and the overall Skandia Team GBR Athlete of the Year title following their Paralympic bronze medal-winning performance, a fourth consecutive World Championship title, and one gold and two silver medals on the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit during 2012.

Meanwhile Ainslie, who this summer became the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, claimed the British Olympic Association’s Athlete of the Year Trophy for Sailing, for the third time and the second consecutive year.

In addition to his fourth Olympic gold, Ainslie also claimed the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth time on his home waters in Falmouth this year as well as a gold and a silver on the World Cup circuit. Skandia Team GBR sailors, coaches, support staff, sponsors and special guests congregated at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard last Friday to celebrate the recent successes of the British Sailing Team.

Hosted by record-breaking round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari, the first awards of the evening went to the winners of the ‘Accenture Rewards and Recognition Programme’ for 2012. Now in its seventh year, this incentive scheme encourages Skandia Team GBR sailors and support staff to vote on who has best displayed the team’s core values of ‘Committed to Excellence’, ‘Passion’ and ‘Gold Driven’.

Cash awards of £1,500 went to each of the category winners, with £500 each for the runners-up and the top-voted Development Squad sailor in each category.

Performance bonuses were also awarded for sailors who took to the podium this year. RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park picked up the overall prize for ‘Committed to Excellence’, while Steve Gent, the team’s strength and conditioning coach claimed the overall prize for ‘Passion’ – both winners for the second year running.

Portland’s Olympic Laser Radial sailor Alison Young was voted the most ‘Gold Driven’ of the team, while 470 European champion Sophie Ainsworth swept the board with the Development Squad prizes in all three categories, plus the honour of being voted overall Skandia Team GBR Development Squad Sailor of the Year.

Ainslie, who has switched to big boats in the America’s Cup World Series since the Games, said the awards evening was ‘a great way to bring the whole team together’ and thank everyone for all the support.

He added: “I think what people don’t see is all the hard work that goes on in the background making it happen – all the support staff, coaches and administrative staff.”

* For a full list of winners visit skandiateamgbr.com or follow @SkandiaTeamGBR on Twitter.

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