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.

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2008 FW Grand Prix Series

Last day of racing would decide the places 2nd to 5th in the 2008 Wind Brasil Grand Prix.

The chasing pack would know their fate at the end of the last race of the series - there is a local saying here in Fortaleza, the last race decides the winners!

Similar winds to yesterday were forecast, but to make racing more interesting there was a swell to contend with, and two "gates" ( marks of the course) to negociate.

Race 14, and two sailors were over eager to get a good start, the individual recall flag was hoisted on the start boat, but the sailors did not return. Fabio Melo (BRA74 ) and Hubert Mokrzycki (POL25) were later disqualified.

Three sailors, leading contenders for a podium position, battled it out for the top points. It was Ross Williams (GBR83) who crossed the finish line ahead of close rivals Willhelm Schurmann (BRA999) and Gabriel Browne (BRA50)- a result that after 14 races moved him into second overall.

Race 15, and the spectators on the harbour wall in front of the Marina Park Hotel were treated to a thrilling finale to this final race of the 2008 Formula World Tour. This time Fabio made no mistake at the start, and with brother Victor (BRA2497 ) led the sailors to the first, windward, gate.

Ross, followed by Gabriel, was close behind and needed to keep one place ahead of Biel to retain second place overall. As the sailors fought their way around the second lap it was Gabriel who moved ahead of Ross, and held off the challenge of Willhelm Schurmann (BRA999) who sailed a storming 2 lap to move ahead of Ross into 3rd place. Fabio retained his lead to the finish; and Gabriel's second place in race 15 earned him second place in the overall event ranking.

On the podium at the prize giving were :
1st Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG3)
2nd Gabriel Browne (BRA50)
3rd Ross Williams (GBR83)

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Pieter Bijl

Dutchman Pieter Bijl buries the hatchet to secure a new 100m speed record in hammering Maui trade winds.

Maui seems to be the place for wind right now. We’re inundated with reports of relentless wind and pounding waves, day in and day out.

With all the ingredients necessary for some serious speed, it comes as no surprise that the Maui crew have been pushing the limits of windsurfing.

This time round, it’s the speed guys that have made their mark, namely Dutchman Pieter Bijl. The newly adopted Maui local has set a new Hawaiian state 100m speed record of 41.4 knots.

Armed with a Fanatic falcon and NeilPryde prototype sail, Bijl blasted his way to the record at Kanaha beach in winds gusting over 35 knots. Here’s the numbers that matter:

max:
  time        m    km/h    knots
16:33:12    21.7  78.0  42.2

100m:
  time        s    km/h    knots
16:33:14     4.7  76.4  41.4

10s:
  time        m    km/h    knots
16:33:15   201.3  72.5  39.2

Pieter currently tops the open section of the 2008 Maui Vmax Speed ladder.

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