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George Gautrey Wins Big At 2023 Aon Yachting Excellence Awards

George Gautrey was the big winner at the 2023 Aon Yachting Excellence Awards on Friday, winning three awards including the prestigious Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year.

The 25-year-old accepted the coveted Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy at a gala awards dinner attended by more than 230 people at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, after earlier also being named the Aon Male Sailor of the Year and being recognised with a Performance Award.

Gautrey has been consistently near the front of the international ILCA 7 (Laser) fleet this season, with two medals. In April, he won silver at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Spain after taking out the medal race. He also secured bronze at the sailing world championships in August for New Zealand’s only silverware of the regatta. Gautrey also finished just outside the podium spots – in fourth – at the Olympic test event in Marseille in July.

The ILCA 7 is considered the most competitive of all the Olympic classes and Gautrey will now be vying for selection for the sole ILCA 7 spot at next year's Paris Games along with last year's Sailor of the Year, Tom Saunders.

"George has worked incredibly hard and has been one of our most consistent performers at the highest level over the last 12 months. His bronze medal at the world champs was well-deserved recognition of this work," Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said.

"We are now only eight months out from Paris and as preparations and competition ramps up, we look forward to seeing the progress of George and the rest of the NZL Sailing Team as they attempt to gain selection for the Olympics."

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Gautrey's coach, Yachting New Zealand's ILCA 7 programme lead Mark Howard, was crowned the B&G Performance Coach of the Year. Manly Sailing Club's Matthew Rist won the inaugural Yachting New Zealand Emerging Coach of the Year Award.

A host of awards were also handed out which recognised success from club level through to achievements on the world stage.

The Edge Women's Match crew of Celia Willison, Charlotte Porter, Paige Cook, Alison Kent and Serena Woodall were named Aon Female Sailor of the Year for finishing second overall on the Women’s World Match Racing Tour.

O'pen Skiff star Ewan Brazle collected the NZL Sailing Foundation Young Male Sailor of the Year Award, with talented windfoiler and wingfoiler Aimee Bright named NZL Sailing Foundation Young Female Sailor of the Year.

Harold Bennett received a Race Officer Emeritus Award for his services to the sport - 12 months after winning the Yachting New Zealand Official of the Year at the 2022 Aon Yachting Excellence Awards. Bennett has been the principal race officer for five America's Cups but is also still heavily involved in running racing at anything from club to national level.

This year's Millennium Hotels and Resorts Official of the Year Award went to Wakatere Boating Club's Alistair Deaves.

Will Mason and Greta Hutton each won an Aon Emerging Talent award, while Waikawa Boating Club (President's Award), Live Ocean (Sustainability Award), Murray Hartley (Sportsmanship Award), and Nathaniel Short (Young Leadership Award) were also honoured.

Abercrombie paid tribute to the volunteers and committee members who keep the sport ticking over throughout the year.

"The Aon Yachting Excellence Awards are about more than just high-performance sailing. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the selfless work, dedication and resilience of our club members during what has been another challenging year," he said.

"These people are often the unsung heroes who help to keep our sport vibrant."

2023 Aon Yachting Excellence Awards

Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year: George Gautrey

Aon Female Sailor of the Year: Edge Women's Match

Aon Male Sailor of the Year: George Gautrey

NZL Sailing Foundation Young Female Sailor of the Year: Aimee Bright

NZL Sailing Foundation Young Male Sailor of the Year: Ewan Brazle

Aon Emerging Talent Award: Will Mason, Greta Hutton

Millennium Hotels and Resorts Official of the Year: Alistair Deaves

B&G Performance Coach of the Year: Mark Howard

Yachting New Zealand Emerging Coach of the Year: Matthew Rist

Lawson's Dry Hills President's Award: Waikawa Boating Club

Evocean Sustainability Award: Live Ocean

North Sails Sportsmanship Award: Murray Hartley

MAST Academy NZ Young Leadership Award: Nathaniel Short


Service Awards supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand

Bart Allsop-Smith and Taylor Williams (Pine Harbour Cruising Club)

Bruce Benson (Point Chevalier Sailing Club)

Chris Bowman (Northcote Birkenhead Yacht Club)

Ann Byford (Clarks Beach Yacht Club)

Alan Dawson (Waiuku Yacht Club)

John Elliott (Hamilton Yacht Club)

Egor Leonenko (Gulf Harbour Yacht Club)

Paul Mygind (Paremata Boating Club)

Sarah Wiblin (Short Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand)

Chris Williams (Waikawa Boating Club)


Cruising Award supported by Kiwi Yachting

Island Cruising New Zealand


Performance Awards supported by Radix Nutrition

Jo Aleh and Molly Meech (Torbay Sailing Club)

Josh Armit (Wakatere Boating Club)

Logan Dunning Beck (Wakatere Boating Club) and Oscar Gunn (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)

Edge Women's Match

George Gautrey (Muritai Yacht Club)

Knots Racing

George Lane (Hamilton Yacht Club)

Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (Torbay Sailing Club)

Veerle ten Have (Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club)

Micah Wilkinson (Ngaroto Sailing Club) and Erica Dawson (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)


Youth Performance Awards supported by Harken

Matteo Barker (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)

Stella Bilger (Wakatere Boating Club)

Ewan Brazle (Manly Sailing Club)

Aimee Bright (Manly Sailing Club)

Tessa Clinton and Nicola Hume (Wakatere Boating Club)

Greta Hutton (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)

Callum Hyde and Callum Noyer (Maraetai Sailing Club)

Bella Jenkins (Kohimarama Yacht Club)

Sean and Rowan Kensington (Kohimarama Yacht Club)

Will Mason (Wakatere Boating Club)

Seb Menzies and George Lee Rush (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)

Jacob Pye (Manly Sailing Club)

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