Marco Gradoni Crowned 2019 Male Rolex World Sailor of the Year
Italy's Marco Gradoni was crowned the 2019 male Rolex World Sailor of the Year on Tuesday 29 October in Bermuda, becoming the youngest ever recipient, at the World Sailing Awards. Anne-Marie Rindom of Denmark received the female accolade to follow in the footsteps of the all-time great sailors.
Gradoni, at 15 years old, was crowned Rolex World Sailor of the Year for his success in the Optimist class, having won three consecutive World Championship titles, the first sailor to ever achieve this result.
Rindom has dominated the Laser Radial over the last 12 months and found rhythm that was unrivalled as she secured her second world title, which has highlighted her as a favourite for Tokyo 2020 gold.
The World Sailing Awards celebrate outstanding achievement and exceptional contributions to the sport of sailing. It is the social highlight of World Sailing's Annual Conference and recognises success throughout the sport.
Alongside the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, the F50 used in SailGP received the Goslings Boat of the Year Award, while Wizard won the Hempel Team of the Year Award following their success in offshore racing.
For setting a benchmark in sustainability, the RYA / The Green Blue received the World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award.
The Beppe Croce Trophy was awarded posthumously to Jeff Martin, who dedicated his life to sailing through his involvement in the Laser class, and the President's Development Award went to Oman Sail, for growing the sport in their nation and region.
Gradoni becomes the youngest recipient of the Rolex World Sailor of the Year
Italy's Marco Gradoni is the most accomplished sailor of his age group and from September 2018 he won every single Optimist event he participated in, securing 14 gold medals.
He won the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Optimist World Championship and made history in 2019, winning the largest Optimist World Championship in Antigua. Facing 250 sailors from 65 nations, he excelled and also spearheaded the Italian team to the Optimist Team Racing Championship title.
Speaking at the Awards ceremony he commented, "It's a dream come true to be sat here in Bermuda with the best sailors of the world. It is something really amazing for me. The list of previous winners are the most famous people of sailing and to be with them is unbelievable but I know that I have to stay focused on my goals because this is important. I'm speechless because this is a dream come true. It is such an honour for me.
"Since 2017 I have worked a lot and tried to stay focused. Every day I thought about where I had to improve and study and do things at my best level and it worked. From 2017 I won a lot and in the last 12 months I have won everything. I'd like to thank my mum for supporting me."
Rindom's dominance recognised with Rolex World Sailor of the Year honour
The road to an Olympic Games has its ups and downs and regular success is often hard to come by. Denmark's Anne-Marie Rindom has found form at the right time ahead of Tokyo 2020 and has been the leading Laser Radial sailor in 2019.
She secured her second world title in 2019 and that success has not been isolated; throughout 2019 she has secured gold medals at four high-profile events.
Before she headed to Japan for the 2019 World Championship, Rindom secured gold at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia Regatta in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. She then topped the standings at her second consecutive event after she won in light and challenging wind conditions at the Hempel World Cup Series event in Genoa, Italy. Just weeks later she made it three in a row by securing the European Championship title in Porto, Portugal, moving to World #1 as a result.
On her achievements, Rindom commented, "To become Rolex World Sailor of the Year and joining a list of legends is truly amazing. I'm so delighted to be on that list and it's a great honour for me. It meant a lot to be nominated and I was very happy and excited to just be here but to win it is amazing. I have got my sister here with me. She's come all this way and we're only here for 50 hours so tonight we will celebrate and fly home tomorrow morning.
"This year has been the best year of my career so far so I'm very pleased with how it's going. We are training for next year, the Olympic year, so it's going to be an important year."