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Junior Named Sailor Of The Year At Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards

Josh Junior was the first Kiwi to win the Finn Gold Cup (world championships). Photo: Robert Deaves.

Josh Junior created history when he became the first Kiwi to win the Finn Gold Cup (world championships) and it was further recognised tonight when he took home the top award at the Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards.

New Zealand has a proud history in the Finn class, with the likes of Sir Russell Coutts, Jonty Farmer, John Cutler and Craig Monk all achieving success, but no one had won the world title until Junior. He triumphed at last year’s Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne, when fellow Kiwi and training partner Andy Maloney was also sixth.

Junior wasn’t the only New Zealand sailor to win a world title over the last 12 months despite the impact of Covid-19 and he edged Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who won two 49er world titles in that time, for the top award.

Along with the Orbit World Travel Sail of the Year Award, Junior was also named the Zhik Male Sailor of the Year and his coaches, Andrew Murdoch and John Cutler, won Yachting New Zealand Coach of the Year.

Sailing royalty and real royalty (three knights) attended the gala dinner at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and the helmsmen of the four America’s Cup teams – Burling, Sir Ben Ainslie, Dean Barker and Jimmy Spithill – treated the crowd to an insight into the America’s Cup during a panel discussion hosted by Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

Kitefoiler Justina Kitchen was named Zhik Female Sailor of the Year following her success at last year’s European Kitefoiling Championships when she teamed up with Lukas Walton-Keim to collect bronze in the mixed team’s relay, the event that will be contested at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Kitchen was also fifth in the individual competition.

Last year’s Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships held at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club picked up two awards, with organisers Peter Dawson and Jude Eades collecting the Lawson’s Dry Hills Presidents Award and the green team winning the Propspeed Sustainability Award. It capped off a good day for the green team, with the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships also announced as a finalist in World Sailing’s 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Awards.

Like most sports, sailing has been adversely affected by Covid-19, but tonight’s awards highlighted the number of achievements by people within the sport.

“It has been a difficult year for many but I’m inspired by the work clubs and sailors have achieved and the changes made in such a positive manner,” Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said. “The innovation and willingness to change and adapt is impressive and it’s only right we recognise some of these people tonight.

“A huge congratulations to all of the nominees but in particular the winners. We have great depth in our sport and we are really excited about our prospects not only at next year’s Tokyo Olympics but also 2024 and 2028.

“What Josh has achieved is something pretty special. It’s a reflection of the huge amount of work he’s put in and the amazing support from [training partner] Andy Maloney and coaches Andrew Murdoch and John Cutler.”

2020 Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards

Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year: Josh Junior
Zhik Male Sailor of the Year: Josh Junior
Zhik Female Sailor of the Year: Justina Kitchen
Volvo Young Male Sailor of the Year: Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan
Volvo Young Female Sailor of the Year: Courtney Reynolds-Smith
Aon Emerging Talent: Tim Howse
Lucke Young Leader: Polly Wright
North Sails Sportsmanship Award: Andrew Mackmurdie and Jennifer Haliday
Propspeed Sustainability Award: Hyundai 49er, 49erFx and Nacra 17 world championships
Lawson’s Dry Hills Presidents Award: Peter Dawson and Jude Eades
Yachting New Zealand Coach of the Year: Andrew Murdoch and John Cutler
SeaLogs Official of the Year: Jon Henry

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