2012 ISAF Conference: Rolex Sailors of the Year announced

Lijia Xu Medal race - Laser Radial. London Olympics 2012
Carlo Borlenghi/FIV - copyright

The 2012 ISAF Rolex Sailors of the Year have just been announced at the ISAF Annual Conference dinner in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.


Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Lijia Xu (CHN) were named the male and female winners of the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards at a ceremony held at the Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland this evening.

Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Lijia Xu (CHN) were named the male and female winners of the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards at a ceremony held at the Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland this evening.

Four-time Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie commented: 'Winning the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award is a huge honour, especially for everyone who has helped me. There is a huge team in the background from family, friends, coaches and sponsors who helped make it happen. It is a huge honour to be part of such a group of exceptional sailors who were put forward for this award.'

London 2012 - Olympic Games - day 8. Finn medal Race. Ben Ainslie
Carlo Borlenghi/FIV - copyright

It is the fourth time that Ainslie has been named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, following titles gained in 1998, 2002 and 2008. Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. The 35-year old’s achievement at London 2012 elevated him to five Olympic medals (four gold, one silver), surpassing Rolex Testimonee Paul Elvstrøm (DEN), winner of four gold medals between 1948 and 1960.

Lijia Xu, Laser Radial Gold Medallist at London 2012, expressed her delight at becoming only the second Asian athlete to be crowned ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and spoke of her passion for the sport: 'Sailing has given me the chance to chase my dreams and the stage to show my potential. It has provided me with the opportunity to see, feel and explore the world. Sailing leads me to a path of a better life, a life full of vitality, excitement and joyful experiences.'

In August, Xu became the first Chinese, and indeed Asian, sailor to win an Olympic Gold medal in a dinghy sailing boat.

Here Lija Xu talks about her nomination and the final race.



Ben Ainslie, Britain's 'best ever sailor' gives an interview in Weymouth after winning his fourth Olympic gold medal at London 2012.