Shortlist and Trophy revealed for the YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’

Shortlist and Trophy revealed for the YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’


The Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) and MS Amlin Boat Insurance are delighted to announce the Shortlist for the YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’.

Over the past decade we have seen a cohort of exciting personalities rise on the international stage, with the established ‘household’ names continuing to enjoy sailing and meet the challenges being thrown down by the younger generation. Alongside the racing performers, we have seen others influence participation in sailing, inspiring more people to enjoy being out on the water.

The YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ aims to recognise the achievements of those who have had the greatest positive impact on our great sport and pastime.

The YJA chose to commission Jo Munford of Seaview Studio, and asked her to create a unique trophy to celebrate the award, which the recipient will keep.

Jo said about creating the trophy: “I was really excited to be asked to make the trophy, as I love creating sculptural pieces using stained glass and driftwood.  The brief was perfectly aligned with my style, including the use of salvaged materials.  The finished piece is meant to evoke the feeling of the sea and yachting, with the end impression in the eye of the beholder; a spinnaker and main sail or a cresting wave with sea spray in the sea glass detail?”

Mark Jardine, Vice Chairman of the YJA said: “Throughout the design and construction process I could see that Jo understood exactly the idea we had for the award. The driftwood mainsail reminds me of the Organ Pipes at Cape Raoul, Tasman Island which the Sydney Hobart fleet pass on their way to the finish in Tasmania. The YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ trophy is a striking sculpture which we hope the winner will cherish and have on display for years to come.”

With many names put forward by people around the world, these are the shortlisted sailors:

Dee Caffari – A constant feature in major races as well as pushing boundaries in terms of female equality. Chair World Sailing Trust, helping teach Omani women to sail, Turn the Tide on Plastic, and a long list of achievements, notwithstanding sailing around the world six times.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – His personal achievements and world records have inspired many thousands to take up the sport, not just through the Clipper Race he founded. He has advised all aspects of the maritime industry from being involved with Trinity House as an advisor, to the Cutty Sark Trust and more. Recognised around the world for his successes.

Jon Holt – The founder of the Scaramouche Sailing Trust, which really has broken down barriers, allowing people of all backgrounds to sail and race successfully. A shining beacon in sailing.

Sir Ben Ainslie – During the last decade he became the most successful Olympic sailor in history with medals at five consecutive Olympics including his 4th gold medal in 2012. In 2013 he was pivotal in helping the BMW Oracle Racing Team retain the America’s Cup, joining the boat as tactician when rivals Emirates Team New Zealand were one race from victory.

Andrew Bart” Simpson – An Olympic Gold medallist at Qingdao 2008, Silver medallist at London 2012 with Iain Percy in the Star class, then tragically killed in training for the 2013 America’s Cup. After his death the Andrew Simpson Foundation was established, as well as events such as Bart’s Bash, to encourage future generations out on to the water and discover a love for sailing.  An already hugely successful quest.

MS Amlin Boat Insurance Business Development Manager, Paul Knox-Johnston said, “Wow, what an amazing line up of talent we have been presented with! Not only a true reflection of what these great sporting ambassadors have achieved in sailing, but also how they have also made a huge imprint on the world around them across the spectrum. I do not envy the YJA members having to make their decision – this is an extremely hard list to pick a winner from.”

Yachting Journalists’ Association Chairman, Cliff Webb added, “Fittingly, we received nominations from all around the world for this award, one designed to recognise the remarkable contribution and achievements of the nominees. These 5 final nominees were selected due to the impact and influence they have made on the sport in this time. Now it is down to our YJA members to select the winner later this month.”

The awards will be streamed worldwide via social media and on the major sailing news platforms in late November.

A link for YJA members to cast their votes will be circulated shortly.


New Work from YJA Member Cathy Shelbourne

Monumental Maritimers

We are always keen to hear about new works produced by our members around the world and promote their efforts, but here is an unusual new one created by YJA member Cathy Shelbourne, of Sea Shell Communications marketing consultancy.

Q. Where is the first column to commemorate Nelson located?
Q. Who was the first woman to circumnavigate the world?
Q. Which fearsome pirate was killed on the deck of his own ship in 1718?

If you’re a regular viewer of the television series Who wants to be a millionaire, you might have responded correctly to the last question. (It was Blackbeard!).

But for the rest of us, all these, and many more fascinating answers, lie in the cards! The cards in question are the Monumental Maritime Heroes pack
In normal times, she travels the world as an enrichment speaker on board cruise ships, giving talks on maritime heroes and brazen buccaneers.

During the coronavirus pandemic, she has put her knowledge, and monumental collection of photos of maritime characters, to good use. Her newly-launched pack of cards is illustrated by major players in the Age of Sail (1400s – mid 1800s), with maritime heroes as hearts, explorers and navigators as clubs, pirates and privateers as spades, and ships as diamonds.

“On board ship, passengers would ask how they could find out more, and where these characters fitted into the greater scheme of things,” says Cathy. “So as well as giving facts and figures and their exploits on each card, I’ve included an information leaflet and time chart in the presentation box.

“During the compilation, I felt like I was on a colossal treasure hunt, tracking down these monuments to past adventurers, still all around us if we just keep our eyes open. They range from statues and columns, to plaques and pub signs, and even weathervanes and village signs.

“And one discovery would lead to another. Visiting Lowestoft on the Suffolk coast to photograph the mosaic of Columbus’ ships on an office building, I noticed a colossal statue of Triton, the son of Neptune, on the promenade. Perfect for the Joker!

“While at Bucklers Hard to look round a modern HMS Pickle, I chatted to a couple in the car park. It turned out her father had made a model of HMS Pickle, which her son had presented to the museum there the day before. Her married name was Trim, the same name as Captain Matthew Flinders’ cat who accompanied him on his voyages charting Australia (and was included by sculptor Mark Richards in his monument to Flinders at Euston station)!”

The packs are now available for sale, but for those who prefer to have all their cards in a row, upon the wall, there’s a limited edition poster too. The presentation box, containing a pack of cards and information leaflet with timeline, is available for £10 plus p+p; the poster is £15 plus p+p; both from

For further information see the video at , or contact

YJA members welcomed to the 60th edition of the Genoa Boat Show – 1st to 6th October 2020

From 1st to 6th October The Genoa International Boat Show Will Welcome Boating Professionals and Enthusiasts for its 60th Anniversary Edition

The 60th Genoa International Boat Show will welcome industry professionals and boating enthusiasts alike, from 1st to 6th October, to experience the very best the industry has to offer.

The organizers are working to bring an event that will combine the highest standards of health and safety with an effective approach worthy of the Made in Italy brand and a world-class showcase. Requests for display space have been greater than expected, a sign that the event remains an essential tool for companies worldwide who recognize the value in taking part.

Exhibitors this year will see the return of the major yards in Italy and worldwide who were present last year, in addition to a number of new brands. As of today, these include a selection of industry-leading names: for motorboats Amer Yachts, Arcadia, Azimut-Benetti, Ferretti Group through FSD – Ferretti Security Division, Fipa Group, Pardo, Princess, Sanlorenzo, Sunseeker, VanDutch; for sailing boats, Beneteau, Dufour, Hanse, Jeanneau, Nautor’s Swan, Mylius Yachts, Solaris and Vismara. This year a brand new area will be dedicated exclusively to Superboats. A full roster for outboards as well, along with an already substantial number of equipment and services-related companies.

The 2020 edition will see the implementation of a key plan of action aimed at creating a flexible layout that can adapt to a variety of scenarios. Supporting the organisers in this endeavour will be a Task Force made up of experts in engineering and legal practice. Plans are already in place to ensure the best organizational conditions, in line with the parameters defined by the World Health Organisation. This is only possible due to key innovations in relation to logistics, remote management and controlled access, all within an entirely new vision based on the large open-air spaces available.

The online ticketing is playing a central role, allowing visitors to purchase their tickets via the event’s official website The online platform is the only channel for purchasing tickets, which will quickly be assigned to specific visiting days to allow for an effective level of crowd management and to prevent over-selling. Access to the Show area will be strictly monitored and automated.

Press may register at the press area via this link. Advise you are a member of the YJA (they will check our website to verify this so make sure your profile is up to date)

Lara Paoletti is the Press Officer & Communications specialist

YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ announced

For immediate release – 2nd September, 2020

YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ announced!

Who wins is anyone’s guess at this point! Round the Island Race 2019/Mark Jardine

After the huge disappointment of having to cancel the YJA MS Amlin Awards Gala Dinner in September, in addition to taking the decision not to award the ‘Yachtsman of the Year’, ‘Young Sailor of the Year’ or ‘Young Blogger of the Year’ in 2020, both the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) and MS Amlin Boat Insurance are delighted to announce a brand new award, the YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ award.

The past decade has seen so much action and development on the water. Boat designs that were unthinkable ten years ago are now a regular part of the sailing landscape and the trickle-down effect is seeing all types of benefit from the advances in technology. Alongside this new era, we have seen a cohort of exciting personalities rise on the international stage, with the household names continuing to enjoy sailing and rising to the challenges being thrown down by the younger generation.

The YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ aims to recognise the achievements of the sailors who have had the greatest positive impact on our great sport and pastime.

Yachting Journalists’ Association Chairman, Cliff Webb said, “We are absolutely delighted that MS Amlin’s support of the YJA will continue with the creation of this new award, one that will honour such fabulous achievements from the world of boating. It is an exciting response to this difficult situation with the pandemic, one that has affected water sports globally. Establishing a new award with a new trophy offers YJA members the opportunity to celebrate the greatest participants in our sport over the last decade.”

MS Amlin Boat Insurance Business Development Manager, Paul Knox-Johnston added, “MS Amlin Boat Insurance are delighted to be supporting this new initiative from the YJA.  As the decade draws to a close in a year which has seen little competitive sailing and so much gloom, we have a great opportunity to celebrate all that has gone before and create a prestigious new award for the sailing fraternity to aim for every ten years. There have been so many great sailing achievements since 2010 and I look forward to a long list of entries from around the world for the YJA to deliberate on.”

Nominations for the YJA MS Amlin ‘International Sailor of the Decade’ will be open to all from September 10th until October 23rd 2020 via the YJA website: with the presentation of the award being held during the Yacht Racing Forum on 23rd November.

The awards will be live streamed worldwide via social media and on the major sailing news platforms. The trophy will be unique and striking, details of which will be announced closer to the presentation itself.

2020 is not the year that any of us envisioned, but the past decade of sailing personalities deserves recognition and to be celebrated.

YJA MS Amlin Gala Awards Dinner 2020 Cancelled

PRESS RELEASE 28 August 2020

YJA MS Amlin Gala Awards Dinner 2020 Cancelled

With regret, the YJA MS Amlin Gala Awards dinner 2020 has been cancelled alongside a difficult decision taken not to present the Yachting Journalists’ Association’s Yachtsman of the Year, Young Sailor of the Year or Young Blogger of the Year Awards in September.

With consideration to the fact that Coronavirus is still spreading around communities, as well as the current social distancing guidelines in force, the committee have decided that hosting a dinner with several hundred prominent figures from the leisure marine industry is not possible.  If an event were to have been held, it would not have been the relaxed, jovial and celebratory event intended.

In what should have been a fantastic year for sailing, with the inclusion of the Tokyo Olympics, Coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation.  The postponement and cancellation of so many sailing events has made the 2020 YJA MS Amlin Awards unfeasible.  2021 looks set to be an action packed year with many events already in the calendar and even more rescheduled from 2020 so the competition for the 2021 Awards will be more intense than ever.

Paul Knox-Johnston, Business Development Manager – MS Amlin Boat Insurance said, “It is disappointing that the awards have had to be cancelled in 2020, but the safety of the YJA members and guests has to come first.  Looking at the positives however, despite the curtailment of international sailing events, it has been great to see a resurgence of grass roots sailing and increased participation in wider water sports with the easing of lock down and a population keen to get out of the house to breathe fresh air and get fit.  Hopefully positives can come from this challenging year and we will see future Yachtsmen and women of the Year awarded who took up sailing in this post lock down period.”

Cliff Webb, Chairman of the YJA said, “After the fabulous success of the YJA MS Amlin Gala Dinner last year, it is of course a huge disappointment not to be able to proceed this year, as we expected to build on this further, using the lessons learnt from this ‘new edition’ of these famous awards. Bringing together the ‘great and the good’ of the industry and the top stars from around the world of boating, was without any doubt, a glittering night enjoyed by all, and with MS Amlin’s support, we were looking forward to setting a new standard, but that will just have to wait until next year now given the circumstances’.”

2020 has been a difficult year for so many around the world and our thoughts are with all of those who have suffered due to Coronavirus.  Both the MS Amlin Boat Insurance team and the YJA committee would like to thank everyone working tirelessly to care and protect those who are vulnerable and also those working on cures and vaccines for Coronavirus.  We look forward to the YJA MS Amlin Awards returning in 2021, but stay tuned for a major announcement later this week about a new and exciting initiative from MS Amlin Boat Insurance and the YJA.


About MS Amlin Boat Insurance

MS Amlin Boat Insurance has grown to become one of the UK’s leading boat insurance providers. MS Amlin covers the full spectrum of marine craft from a much loved family dinghy or dayboat, racing yacht, RIB, as well as all types of cruising and motor boats to brand new £multi-million superyachts in the UK, Mediterranean and further afield. With the backing of one of the world’s largest insurance groups, MS Amlin delivers service based on years of experience on the water to be able to genuinely understand our clients’ needs.

About MS Amlin

MS Amlin is a leading global (re)insurer, part of the global top-10 insurance group MS&AD, with operations in the Lloyd’s, UK, Continental European, US, Asia and Bermudian markets. With a 300-year record and c.1,800 people in more than 15 locations worldwide, we deliver a quality service for businesses facing the most complex and demanding risks. Our role places us at the forefront of the Specialty, Domestic and Reinsurance markets.

We are experts in underwriting, with both technical capability and deep knowledge of the areas we insure. Our claims service aims to set the industry reference point for quality, with efficient, fair and timely claims management.

For further information please contact:

Chris English (YJA) – – 07711 717470

Eight Bells – Mike Ford

It is with great regret that we have to announce the passing of Mike Ford, a consummate professional Journalist & Photographer who has been working away in the background to keep the good ship YJA afloat for seemingly more years than any of us can recall. Among the many YJA roles that Mike didn’t just take on, but truly embraced with his every sinew, were at various times, Secretary, Treasurer, Webmaster & Membership Secretary & as a result his knowledge of all things YJA was truly amazing.

In addition to his various roles with the YJA, Mike was also a Member of the Guild of Motoring Writers & a long time Member, Supporter & Editor of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club’s Yachter Magazine. However first & foremost Mike was a family man & on behalf of the hundreds of present & past members of the YJA & the staff of Press Offices around the world, we extend our sincerest condolences to Mike’s Wife Jill & Daughter Michelle. RIP”

Chris English, Secretary

Mike has helped the YJA for many, many years, and supported a long list of Chairmen. His knowledge and experience of all aspects of the YJA was truly impressive, from constitutional matters to membership, and clearly losing such a ‘font of knowledge’ will inevitably have an impact in ways we cannot imagine as yet. It is always sad to hear of members passing, but Mike has been closely involved with the Committee ever since I have been a member, and I have had countless dealings with him since taking over as Chairman. He was as delighted as anyone when MS Amlin stepped up as sponsors last year for our annual awards, and reveled in being able to join the celebrations in Southampton as the YJA began a ‘new’ chapter in it’s evolution.

A lovely man who will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Cliff Webb, Chairman

Yacht Racing Forum Update

Yacht Racing Forum in Bilbao: Innovation and Progress

The 12th edition of the Yacht Racing Forum innovates, and proposes new concepts, subjects and speakers, with the Yachting Journalists’ Associaton leading one of the topical debates.

YJA Chairman Cliff Webb and Vice-Chairman Mark Jardine will be on a panel debating whether social media is killing the art of story telling and cheapening the  quality of coverage.

The conference will bring together around 350 delegates, including the sports’ main decision-makers from all over the world. The leading events, venues, brands and sponsors will be in Bilbao, Spain, on November 25-26.

The next edition of the Yacht Racing Forum, in Bilbao, will offer an interesting mix of conferences and presentations on current topics related to competitive sailing and the business of the sport. Sailing classes and events, the sports management, rules  & regulations will amongst other be discussed, alongside the latest technological developments from the America’s Cup, Ultime or IMOCA classes. The most interesting innovations will also be presented on some of our partners’ exhibition stands.

“Our goal is to cover all aspects of competitive sailing. We do not want to be perceived as elitist; our objective is to cover the sport in its diversity and to assess and value the contribution of competitive sailing to the public and mainstream sailing”, explains Bernard Schopfer, the organiser of the Forum.

More than 60 speakers have already confirmed their participation, including the sports’ leading personalities from all over the world (click here to discover the entire list of speakers). SailGP, the Class 40, the Ocean Race or the next Olympic Games will be presented in great detail by their key promoters, whilst a strong focus will be put on mainstream and youth sailing.

The Yacht Racing Forum will feature many innovations this year, including a session entitled « New talent in sailing technology ». Presented by Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, it will offer students involved in academic research on sails & foils the opportunity to present their research to their potential future employers. Students and youngsters will also benefit from a strong discount to access the Forum.

Among other new features, Christian Dumard will give a fascinating presentation on the effects of climate change on the sport of sailing, while Vicky Low will present the World Sailing Trusts’ strategic review on women in sailing. Our sustainability partner 11th Hour Racing will debate the « Business of sport and sustainability ».

The Yacht Racing Forum will be chaired by some of the sports’ best experts and moderators, including Shirley Robertson, Andy Rice and Dobbs Davis, supported by Ken Read, Jeremy Pochman or Luca Rizzotti.

Two conferences will be held in parallel on day one, with the Design & Technology Symposium and the conference dedicated to the organisation, business and marketing of sport. The rest of the conference, on day two, will be held in plenary and will focus on topics of interest for all delegates, whether they are more technical or business oriented. The conference programme is nearing completion (there are still some opportunities; click here to discover the conference programme).

As usual, the Yacht Racing Forum also promises to be a great and friendly social event, with drinks receptions and a gala evening reception provided by our host, Bilbao Bizkaia, Consorcio de aqua, Euskadiko Kirol Portua, Real Federación Española de Vela and Valencia Sports.

If you haven’t registered yet, please do it now to help us organise the event as efficiently as possible.

For more information:

To Register, Click Here

YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year 2019 and YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019 Finalists

Photo: Sam Kurtul

The Yachting Journalists’ Association Committee met on Monday evening on the 45th floor of the Leadenhall building in London, hosted by MS Amlin Boat Insurance, to choose the shortlists for the YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and the YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019.

Encouragingly there were a record number of nominations for the YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and the entries were representative of the diversity of sailing.


YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year Finalists

Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell — Winners of the 49er European Championship, held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and also key members of the Great Britain SailGP Team who were the first to break the 50-knot barrier in the class ahead of the Cowes SailGP event in August.

Lucy MacGregor — four-time winner of the Women’s Match Racing World Championship after her victory at the Lysekil Women’s Match in August. ‘Team Mac’ took the final 3-0 against French skipper Claire Leroy.

Will Hodshon & Rich Mitchell —  successfully sailed a Wayfarer dinghy unaided around the 1,390-nautical mile coast of mainland Britain in just over 15 days, beating the previous open dinghy record of 28 days set in 2006.

YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019 Finalists

Vita Heathcote – Winner of the 420 Women’s World Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal together with crew Milly Boyle in July and also finishing 2nd mixed team at the 470 Junior European Championship in Vilagarcia de Arousa, Spain with crew Ryan Orr.

Matilda Nicholls – Winner of the Women’s Laser Radial Youth World Championship at Kingston, Canada by a margin of 13 points while also dominating the UK Qualifying Series, winning the national youth title in the class and also representing the British Youth Sailing Team at the Youth World Championships for the second time, finishing fifth.

Azat Ulutas – A sailor from the Greig City Academy and key part of the inspiring Project Scaramouche team, Azat has most recently been sailing on ‘Eros’ to become one of the youngest teams ever to take part in the Round the Island Race and also competing in the Etchells European Championship amongst other events.


Having selected the shortlisted candidates, YJA members have until 9am on Sunday, September 8 to vote for their choice of YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019 via the YJA website at,  or below, with the winners to be revealed on  September 13.

MS Amlin’s Keith Lovett said of the shortlist, “We’ve been absolutely delighted to be involved in the process and seeing how it has moved forward – it’s been enlightening. What’s really interesting is we’ve ended up with shortlists from a completely diverse range of activities in the marine environment, from someone sailing a Wayfarer around Britain to our four-time Women’s Match Racing Champion, having them all on the same platform is really reflective of the wide range that the YJA awards cover.”

YJA Chairman Clifford Webb added, “It’s a very exciting point in the evolution of the Yachting Journalists’ Association. We’re on board with MS Amlin who have been incredibly supportive as a sponsor of the entire process. The nominations showed the diversity of boating of all kinds and with the Gala Dinner coming up, the shortlist gives YJA members the opportunity to express their voice and vote for their YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year.”

The YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and the YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year Awards will be presented during a Gala Dinner at the Grand Café Southampton on  September 13, following on from Press Day at the Southampton International Boat Show. This will be a spectacular occasion, drawing together the great and good of the marine world, distinguished guests and many previous winners of the awards.

Of the Gala Dinner, Keith Lovett said, “This is going to be something that we haven’t seen in the UK for a very long time – a real highlight of the Southampton International Boat Show, star-studded and just the audience alone is going to be fascinating. I can’t wait to be there!”

The final few tickets for this not-to-be-missed event are available and anyone may join the celebrations on the night. The YJA has decided to open up to the public, what has traditionally been a members only exclusive event. Hurry as YJA members and non-members must reserve by  September 7 or miss this special occasion. If you would like to attend then please contact the YJA Secretary, Chris English via email at who will send you the full range of options.

The Yachting Journalists’ Association is hugely appreciative of MS Amlin Boat Insurance title sponsorship of the awards. Their support enables the presentation to be held during an event which befits the stature of these historic trophies.

YJA Members Only can vote here