Ian Walker has been named boats.com YJA Yachtsman of the Year by the Yachting Journalists’ Association at a prestigious awards ceremony.
The Yachtsman of the Year Award is one of Britain’s most coveted sporting trophies and 2015 marks its Diamond Jubilee. Previous winners include Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Sir Ben Ainslie. It’s regarded by many as “the knighthood of yachting” and is awarded by the Yachting Journalists’ Association.
Ian Walker, from Warsash in Hampshire, became the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race in the event’s 37 year history, when he led Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to victory in the 2014/15 event. Ian and his team also won the in-port race series and set a 24-hour distance record of an incredible 550.82 nautical miles. This performance impressed the country’s foremost sailing journalists, with YJA members voting him the eventual winner from a closely contested shortlist of nominees that included Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams from Lymington, and Finn Class champion Giles Scott, from Weymouth.
Accepting his award, Ian Walker said: “It was very competitive this year with some truly fantastic nominees and I am privileged to have won such a coveted award. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for me. I was first nominated for the award back in 1994 – so it has been a long road to win it. I’ve always sailed as part of a team so this award is as much about our Volvo Ocean Race winning Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team as it is about me.”
Paul Gelder, chairman of The Yachting Journalists’ Association added: “Ian Walker is one of Britain’s most successful sailors and we’re delighted to see his name added to the illustrious winners of our trophy.”
The Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) represents more than 260 specialist marine journalists, photographers, TV and radio presenters across the major sailing and boating regions in the world. It aims to promote greater awareness of all aspects of leisure boating through the professional services offered by its members.