Dan Slater finished on top in a fleet of 110 boats at the OK Dinghy world championships. Photo Credit Robert Deaves
Dan Slater finished on top in a fleet of 110 boats at the OK Dinghy world championships. Photo Credit Robert Deaves

Former Olympian Dan Slater was the big winner at the annual Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards after scooping the Sailor of the Year trophy tonight.

Slater started the year by finishing on top in a fleet of 110 boats at the OK Dinghy world championships in Auckland and backed it up by being tactician for the winning team at the 12m world championships in England. He was also tactician for the second-placed team at the 8m world championships to round out an outstanding 2019.

The three-time Olympian collected the prestigious Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy as the Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year at a gala dinner attended by more than 250 people at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Promising duo Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan were named the Volvo Young Sailors of the Year after dominating the fleet to win the boy’s 420 at this year’s youth sailing world championships and the pair were also second at the 420 world championships.

A raft of awards were handed out tonight, from those involved at the highest level like Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, Phil Robertson and Nick Egnot-Johnson through to club volunteers who operate at the grassroots of the sport.

“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the brilliant achievements of sailors from all over New Zealand on the world stage,” Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said. “It’s also important to recognise the tremendous efforts of clubs and their volunteers who make the sport possible for thousands of Kiwis.

“Dan has been a consistently high performer for many years and the judges were unanimous in their decision. It’s a fantastic achievement to win two world titles in a year and his success at the OK Dinghy world championships was something he had been working towards for some time.”

“We’re also excited to see what the future holds for Seb and Blake who have been turning out a series of world-beating performances at such a young age.”

Three new awards were handed out tonight – the Lucke Youth Leadership AwardNorth Sails Sportsmanship Award, and Propspeed Sustainability Award – and a feature of the evening was a panel discussion with Burling and Tuke about Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup campaign. The pair had earlier picked up a Performance Award.

The 2021 America’s Cup is just one of a number of highlights for sailing in this country over the next couple of years.

“Yachting is in a really good space with healthy clubs and good numbers across the country,” Abercrombie said. “We are looking forward to an exciting two years coming up with the likes of next month’s Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships, the Tokyo Olympics and America’s Cup.”

2019 Volvo Yachting Excellence Award winners:

Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year: Dan Slater
Volvo Young Sailor of the Year: Seb Menzies & Blake McGlashan
Aon Emerging Talent: Ted Houry
Lucke Youth Leadership Award: Serena Goodall
North Sails Sportsmanship Award: Harry Edwards & Emily Overend
Propspeed Sustainability Award: Wakatere Boating Club
Lawson’s Dry Hills President’s Award: NZL Sailing Trust
Zhik Official of the Year: Ian Clouston

Performance Awards supported by Zhik: Peter Burling & Blair Tuke; Logan Dunning Beck & Oscar Gunn; George Gautrey; Knots Racing (Nick Egnot-Johnson, Sam Barnett, Bradley McLaughlin, Zak Merton & Tim Snedden); Honda Marine (David McDiarmid, Matt Steven & Bradley Collins); Alex Maloney & Molly Meech; Andy Maloney; Sam Meech; Phil Robertson; Dave Shaw; Dan Slater.

Youth Performance Awards supported by Harken: Brayden Hamilton & Pat Morgan; Blake Hinsley & Nicholas Drummond; Ted Houry; Seb Menzies & Blake McGlashan; Helena Sanderson & Jack Honey; Vento Racing (Jordan Stevenson; Mitch Jackson; George Angus & Jake Erson).

Cruising Award supported by Wichard, by Kiwi Yachting: Sara and Josh Tucker.

Service Awards supported by Boating New Zealand: Alastair Burgess, Jocelyn & Nigel Humphreys (Pleasant Point Yacht Club); Paddy Charles (French Bay Yacht Club); Marc Frewin (Howick Sailing Club); Chantal Grass (Panmure Lagoon Sailing Club); Vern Hall (Otago Yacht Club); Colin Lock (Naval Point Club Lyttelton); Johnny Malthus & Simon Novak (Worser Bay Boating Club); Simon Probert (Wakatere Boating Club); Fiona Rist (Manly Sailing Club); Richard Wingfield (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron); Peter Withall (Pigeon Bay Boating Club).