Next Event: San Diego, USA 19 October - 22 October 2017

Sarah Ayton World Sailor of the year

10.11.2015

With two Olympic gold medals and an OBE already to her name The Wave, Muscat’s tactician Sarah Ayton has this week been awarded the highest recognition a sailor can achieve, the International Sailing Federation Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2015.

Picking up the prestigious award at a ceremony in Sanya, China, on Tuesday in recognition of her outstanding performance as the only female sailor on the Extreme Sailing Series™, Ayton was nominated alongside some of the sport’s most influential female sailors including British Volvo Ocean Race skipper Sam Davies, undefeated kiteboarding champion Elena Kalinina from Russia, Danish World Match Racing Tour champion Lotte Meldgaard and French RS:X Windsurfing champion Charline Picon.

Speaking shortly after arriving home in the UK, Ayton said: “I’m overwhelmed, it is such a huge honour to even be nominated for an award that so many inspirational women have won or been nominated for in the past. My heart was racing and when my name was called as the winner - I was more nervous than before the final race at the Olympic Games.”

As the only woman currently competing in the Series Ayton plays a key part in Leigh McMillan’s championship-leading crew on The Wave, Muscat. On board Ayton is involved in both sail handling and manoeuvres but also, most crucially, in calling tactics that have helped The Wave, Muscat to five regatta victories this season out of a possible seven.

“On the water my role in the Extreme Sailing Series is just like any other sailor - you get stuck into racing and being a woman doesn’t come into it, I’m the tactician,” explained Ayton. “But it’s off the water is when it really hits home what a unique position I’m in.

“A lot of female guests come up to me, almost with a tear in their eye, and I guess they are inspired watching me out there on the water. I fell really privileged to be in that position, to be able to inspire anyone in the world of sailing or elsewhere.”

Commenting on the award to Ayton, Andy Tourell the Extreme Sailing Series Event Director said: “I am delighted for Sarah who has made a huge impact on the Series not only as a world class talent but also an ambassador for the sport, blazing trails for female sailors and inspiring the next generation around the world.”

After complimenting her fellow nominees, Ayton thanked her parents, sponsors and supporters in her speech: “Mum had already texted me before I had even got back to my table from the stage, saying ‘Fantastic result!’ It’s a really proud moment and I’m glad could share the success with everyone that has been involved,” Ayton explained.

In the men’s category, two former Extreme Sailing Series competitors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) scooped the men’s prize, for their domination of the 49er class.