New Year Honour for sailors
Britain’s history-making sailors have had their astonishing feats in 2008 recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.
All Britain’s gold medal winning sailors at Beijing 2008 have been honoured along with RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park.
Finn class star Ben Ainslie heads the honours being appointed a CBE after winning his third successive Olympic gold medal in China – his fourth Olympic medal in total having claimed Laser class silver at Atlanta 1996.
This year also saw the 31-year-old from Lymington take a record-breaking fifth Finn Gold Cup crown and he was named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for an unprecedented third time. He remains unbeaten in the Finn class since 2004.
Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, who struck gold for the second Games running in the Yngling class, receive OBEs having picked up MBEs following their success with Shirley Robertson at Athens 2004. Meanwhile the third member of the celebrated Yngling trio, Pippa Wilson, is awarded an MBE as the girls ended 2008 as Olympic, World and European champions.
Iain Percy also picks up an OBE after winning his second Olympic gold in the Star class with Andrew Simpson in China, Percy first tasting Olympic glory in the Finn at Sydney 2000. Simpson, like Pippa Wilson an Olympic debutant at the Beijing Games, receives an MBE.
Paul Goodison, who triumphed in emphatic style in the Laser class in Qingdao – four years after suffering the agonising heartbreak of Olympic Games fourth – caps an unforgettable year, in which he also won his fourth European Championship, with his first honour, an MBE.
Meanwhile, Park, who was at the team management helm for the second successive Games, has also been honoured for the first time, the 40-year-old Scot being awarded an OBE. Park oversaw Britain’s most successful ever Olympic sailing campaign in China with the sailors winning six medals in total – four golds, one silver and one bronze.
Park said his honour was recognition for the team effort that went in British sailing’s incredible year.
He said: “It is a great honour to be recognised but I head up a team of fantastically committed and passionate professionals and as far as I am concerned it is recognition for all the hard work and effort of everyone who has played their part this year, not only in terms of Britain’s success at the Olympics but the success of all Skandia Team GBR sailors at the many World and European Championships and Olympic Classes Regattas throughout the year.
“It is a team in which everyone has pulled in the same direction to achieve the same goals and they should perceive this honour as recognition for their immeasurable contributions also.”
RYA Chairman, Richard Langford, added: “We are all absolutely delighted that the sailors have been fittingly recognised and with the well deserved OBE for Stephen Park, whose enormous effort and hard work has been reflected in the great success of the sailors at the past two Olympic Games. We congratulate them all.”