Laser sailor scoops Yachting Excellence Award in NZ
New Zealander Tom Saunders has received the Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year Award, at the annual Aon Yachting Excellence Awards in Auckland.
Late last year, the 30-year-old won ILCA 7 (Laser) world title and came fourth at the 2022 world championships. The ILCA 7 is considered one of the most competitive Olympic classes and it’s said Saunders’ form over the past 12 months sets him up well for success at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
At a gala awards dinner at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Saunders collected the Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy from governor-general Dame Cindy Kiro, who is also Yachting New Zealand patron. Saunders was also named Aon Male Sailor of the Year and was a recipient of a Yachting New Zealand Performance Award.
Emirates Team New Zealand performance engineer Elise Beavis was named Aon Female Sailor of the Year for winning her second WASZP world title.
Seb Menzies and George Lee Rush collected the NZL Sailing Foundation Young Male Sailor of the Year Award and Helena Sanderson the NZL Sailing Foundation Young Female Sailor of the Year Award.
“It was great to see New Zealanders not only competing again but also winning again on the world stage after the disruptions brought about by Covid-19,” says Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie. “Tom’s achievements over the past 12 months were truly exceptional and he was a deserved winner of the Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year Award.
“It was also tremendous to recognise those people at the grassroots who do so much to make the sport possible for thousands of Kiwis. I would like to congratulate all of this year’s award recipients.”
Harold Bennett was named Yachting New Zealand Official of the Year. Bennett has been the principal race officer for five America’s Cups but is also still heavily involved in running racing from anything from club to national level.
Winners of the 2022 Aon Yachting Excellence Awards
Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year: Tom Saunders
Aon Female Sailor of the Year: Elise Beavis
Aon Male Sailor of the Year: Tom Saunders
NZL Sailing Foundation Young Female Sailor of the Year: Helena Sanderson
NZL Sailing Foundation Young Male Sailor of the Year: Seb Menzies and George Lee Rush
Aon Emerging Talent Award: Will Leech, Isla Barker
Yachting New Zealand Official of the Year: Harold Bennett
B&G Coach of the Year: Mike Bullot
Lawson’s Dry Hills Presidents Award: Queen Charlotte Yacht Club
Yachting New Zealand Sustainability Award: Delayne Salthouse
North Sails Sportsmanship Award: Jeff O’Leary
VMG Young Leadership Award: Angus Wright