Excellence in sailing recognised at 2009 Australian Yachting Awards
Malcolm Page with Victor Kovalenko and Elise Rechichi
The winners of the 2009 Australian Yachting Awards have been announced at a gala event at Sandringham Yacht Club in Victoria.
2008 Beijing Olympic Games Gold medalists Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page were named Male Sailor of the Year following their victory in the 470 class which saw them dominate the competition on the biggest stage to win the Gold medal with a race in hand. The pair had dominated the 470 class for a number of years with their Gold medal capping off a partnership which encompassed two Olympic Games campaigns and three World Championships.
Fellow Gold medalists and 470 competitors Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson won the Female Sailor of the Year Award after their impressive performance in the light winds of Qingdao. Rechichi and Parkinson overcame adversity on their way to the Gold medal after Rechichi fought back from being struck down by a debilitating illness with their single-minded determination, skill and attention to detail culminating in the now famous victory.
The OAMPS Insurance Brokers Youth Sailor of the Year Award was won by 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Laser Radial victor Gabrielle King. The New South Wales sailor won back to back Youth World Championship titles and now has her sights set on the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Sailor of the Year with a Disability Award was shared by Brisbane’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Perth’s Rachael Cox, who won a Silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Fitzgibbon and Cox’s fine performance in China was due to the determination and hard work put in by the pair with Cox moving across the country to join Fitzgibbon in Brisbane to dedicate the time required to train.
Yachting Victoria’s Go Sailing program was acknowledged for its success with the Sport Promotion Award. The Go Sailing program continues to go from strength to strength, giving newcomers to sailing a taste of the sport.
The Australian Sailing Team’s head coach Victor Kovalenko received the Sport Professional Award. Kovalenko is aptly nicknamed the ‘medal maker’ and this was true once again at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where Kovalenko coached Australia’s 470 men’s and women’s crews to Gold medals.
Richard Grubb, a member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, received the 2009 Volunteer Award. Richard has worked tirelessly with the CYCA for more than 25 years and is the club’s official race starter and a honourary Life Member.
Yachting Australia President Andrew Plympton announced the 2009 President’s Award with it shared between Victor Kovalenko and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s SOLAS Trust.
Kovalenko has been instrumental in the continued success of the Australian Sailing Team and has worked with the country’s leading Olympic class sailors since the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, winning four Gold medals in the 470 class along the way. As head coach, Victor was heavily involved with the establishment of the Australian Sailing Team in 2006, has commented himself 100% to his adopted country and is an inspiration to all who work with him.
The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Trust was established by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia following the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race and was set up to assist the immediate family of those lost at sea during sanctioned races, provide assistance to search and rescue organizations and foster research and training to improve procedures for use at sea. The SOLAS Trust continues to do amazing work around Australia and is a worthy recipient of the President’s Award.
Guests at the 2009 Australian Yachting Awards included Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates AC, Australian Sports Commission CEO Matt Miller and more than 200 special guests.