Some of the biggest stars in Australian sailing reclaimed their titles as the best in the land at this year’s Australian Sailing Awards.
Matt Wearn OAM won Male Sailor of the Year for the first time since 2018, Mara Stransky won her second consecutive Female Sailor of the Year Award and Chris Symonds won an unprecedented fifth consecutive Para Sailor of the Year Award.
Tokyo Olympic ILCA 7 champion Wearn overcame a 2022 season plagued by long COVID to reassert himself at the top of the hugely competitive class.
He won a Bronze at the European Championships before going on to win the Olympic Test Event in Marseille after a stunning victory in the Medal Race.
“I’m just ecstatic,” said Wearn after the announcement.
“I dealt with a bit of adversity last year which was tough. It was a bit of a hard time, so to bounce back as the best sailor in Australia is fantastic. I’m now just really looking forward to the next 12 months.”
Stransky put together her most consistent season to date, collecting 18 race podiums in her wake. She notched top fifteen results at the 2022 European and World Championships before top ten finishes at the European Championships and Trofeo Princesa Sofía in 2023.
The Queensland sailor pointed to her teammates after accepting the Award, after she beat out fellow Australian Sailing Team ILCA 6 athletes Casey Imeneo and Zoe Thomson for the award.
“It was super special to be named as a Finalist with my two teammates Zoe and Casey,” said Stransky.
“Having Elise here would have completed the night. I’m proud to be doing what I love with people I love spending time with. It’s why I am enjoying sailing as much as I am.”
Hansa 303 Doubles World Champion Chris Symonds became the first athlete to win the Para Sailor of the year title five times in a row, and for his contribution to the sailing community also took home the President’s Award on the night.
It was a big evening for Queensland with Keppel Bay Sailing Club and Humpybong Yacht Club winning the Club of the Year Category A and Category B Awards respectively. Whitsunday Sailing Club’s Ian and Annika Thomson won the Sustainability Award for their work with Ocean Crusaders.
It was a successful evening for Fremantle Sailing Club, as along with Wearn winning Male Sailor of the Year they had Harry Joyner win Youth Sailor of the Year and their Women’s Racing and Mentorship Program the coveted SheSails Award.
The Australian SailGP Team were acknowledged for their third consecutive SailGP championship win, as they were announced as the Team of the Year and their coach, Ben Durham, winning Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.
Full List of Award Winners
Male Sailor of the Year
Matt Wearn – Royal Perth Yacht Club & Fremantle Sailing Club (WA)
Female Sailor of the Year
Mara Stransky – Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron & Queensland Laser Association (QLD)
Youth Sailor of the Year
Harry Joyner – Fremantle Sailing Club (WA)
Para Sailor of the Year
Chris Symonds – Wynyard Yacht Club, Australian Hansa Class Association Inc & Sailability Tasmania (TAS)
Team of the Year
Australia SailGP Team (NSW)
Coach of the Year
Ben Durham – Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (WA)
Club of the Year – Category A
Keppel Bay Sailing Club (QLD)
Club of the Year – Category B
Humpybong Yacht Club (QLD)
Volunteer of the Year
Sarah Cooper – Henley Sailing Club (SA)
Instructor of the Year
Robert Cooper – Rye Yacht Club (VIC)
Official of the Year
Damien Boldyrew – Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NSW)
Sport Promotion Award
ORCV Media Team (VIC)
Sport Professional Award
Alanna Field – Darwin Sailing Club (NT)
Women’s Racing and Mentorship Program – Fremantle Sailing Club (WA)
Ian & Annika Thomson – Whitsunday Sailing Club (QLD)
Chris Symonds (TAS)