Tom Ashley

Tom Ashley, a young man described as having one of the brightest minds in the sport, has been granted the title of Singapore Airlines New Zealand Sailor of the Year.

The reigning World Champion board-sailor cemented his place in yachting history when he won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics this year, sailing a near perfect regatta and final medal winning race.

The 24-year-old from Auckland’s North Shore is fluent in four languages and has been sailing since the age of eight. He has won six of the ten regattas entered since 2006 and his gold medal at Qingdao was the first for New Zealand sailing since 1992. Tom’s considerable success at grand prix level was also enough to earn him finalist status in the highly prestigious Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, announced on 12 November in Madrid, Spain.

“Tom is a very special young New Zealander,” says Yachting New Zealand Chief Executive Des Brennan. “In the end he carried all of our Olympic dreams on his shoulders in Beijing, and delivered. Tom is gifted with intelligence, athleticism and endurance. His contribution to the sport in such a short space of time has been remarkable and he has a very bright future in front of him in whatever he decides to do. I hope that sailing will be included.”

Peter Burling and Carl Evans once again took the Young Sailor of the Year title. The high school students, from Tauranga and Auckland, are ranked number five in the world in the men’s 470 class and are consistent top-ten performers at international level. They are also two-time winners of the Open 420 World Championships.

“There is something remarkable about Peter and Carl, who have achieved so much at such a young age, particularly in the Open 470 class, which is one of the most technically and physically challenging classes,” says Des Brennan. “They hold so much promise and we are very excited about their prospects for the future.”

Peter Burling and Carl Evans are no longer sailing together but are each part of Yachting New Zealand Olympic Development Squad. Carl remains in the 470, while Peter has migrated to the 49er, a boat more suited to his size and weight.

The Yachting New Zealand President’s Award went to the yacht clubs involved in making the series of seven World Championship events held off Takapuna Beach a reality over three months last summer, involving 620 competitors from 55 countries. The clubs collectively honoured for this Award were Takapuna Boating Club, Gulf Harbour Yacht Club, Kohimarama Yacht Club, Murrays Bay Sailing Club, Royal Akarana Yacht Club, Torbay Sailing Club and Wakatere Boating Club. Seven other clubs also received special mentions.

46 sailors were honoured at the Yachting Excellence Awards celebration dinner, held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on the evening of Friday 28 November and officiated by yachting broadcaster Peter Montgomery.

Those honoured were:

Sailor of the Year 2008 Nominees
Thomas Ashley – Olympic Boardsailing (winner)
Barbara Kendall – Olympic Boardsailing
Ben Lutze – International Splash Class
Andrew Murdoch – Olympic Laser
Karl Purdie – International OK Dinghy Class
Daniel Slater – Olympic Finn

Young Sailor of the Year 2008 Nominees
Peter Burling & Carl Evans – Olympic 470 (winner)
Cushla Hume-Merry – Laser Radial
Ben Goodwin and Paul Snow-Hansen – International 420
Ben Lutze – International Splash Class
Andy Maloney – International Laser
Sam Meech - International Laser
University Match Racing Team – Match Racing

Yachting New Zealand Merit Award Recipients 2008
Blackmatch Racing – International Match Racing
University Match Racing Team – International University Match Racing
Thomas Ashley – Olympic Boardsailing
Grant Beck - Coaching
Cushla Hume-Merry – Laser Radial
Barbara Kendall - Olympic Boardsailing
Ben Lutze - International Splash Class
Andy Maloney - International Laser
Dave and Owen MacKay - Boatbuilding
Sam Meech – International Laser
John Morgan - Coaching
Andrew Murdoch – Olympic Laser
NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team – International Youth Sailing
NZL Splash Worlds Team – International Splash Class
Karl Purdie – International OK Dinghy
Daniel Slater – Olympic Finn

Yachting New Zealand Honour Award Recipients 2008
This category recognises long-term service and achievement in yachting, bringing hard-working volunteers and unsung heroes into the spotlight. While awards are not what these people pursue, their hard work and dedication make them deserving recipients.
Larry Brockliss – Panmure Yacht and Boating Club
Joe Butterfield – YNZ Judging Panel
Julie Carrick – Vauxhall Yacht Club
Ian Clouston – Takapuna Boating Club
Grant Cunningham – RS: X Association
David Glen – Glendowie Boating Club
Adrienne Greenwood – Yachting New Zealand Judging Panel
Richard MacAlister – Royal Akarana Yacht Club
Ian MacLennan – NZ Paper Tiger Owners Association
Denis Mowbray – Yachting New Zealand Board
Don & Sue Mason – RNZYS & Council for Sailing for Blind and Visually Impaired
John Parrish – RS:X Association & YNZ Judging Panel
Lloyd Rance – Muritai Yacht Club
Judith Salthouse – Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Maurice Scott – Worser Bay Boating Club
Malcolm & Barbara Waller – Sailability Auckland
Ray Welson – Yachting New Zealand Judging Panel


SOURCE: Yachting New Zealand