The Yachting Journalists’ Association organises the nominations and elections for the YJA Stoneways Marine Yachtsman of the Year Award and the YJA Stoneways Marine Young Sailor of the Year Award, both of which are presently sponsored by Stoneways Marine.

With the support of Stoneways Marine, in 2021, we also launched a new award, which is the YJA Stoneways Marine Young Journalist of the Year, which was presented to 14-year old Katie McCabe. See News section for more information.

We also launched the International Sailor of the Decade award in 2020.

The Yachtsman of the Year Award was initiated in 1955 by the late Sir Max Aitken, Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot, chairman of Express Newspapers and himself a leading yachtsman in both sail and power. He subsequently won the award in 1977 in recognition of his services to the sport. He commissioned the Yachtsman of the Year trophy which now bears the names of the greatest achievers in British yachting over the past five decades.

For many years, Sir Max organised the selection procedure and presentation ceremony for the Award on the opening day of the annual London Boat Show at Earls Court. In 1979, Sir Max donated the trophy and its management to the YJA which has been responsible for the organisation of the Award ever since. The Award is made to the British person whose attainment in the previous year most justifies such a title. The winner holds the trophy for a year and is given a replica.

The Young Sailor of the Year award was initiated in 1993 to recognise endeavour and achievement by young sailors. The overall winner is selected from a ballot among members of the YJA.

The Award is open to young sailors who will not have attained their 19th birthday before December 31 and who are in possession of a British passport or are immediately eligible to receive a British passport.

Since its introduction, two winners of the Young Sailor of the Year award have subsequently gone on to win the Yachtsman of the Year trophy in their early twenties.

Nominations for either award may be made by anyone via the YJA website and the closing date is October 31.

From the nominations received for both awards the YJA Committee select a short list of names on which the YJA membership vote to decide the overall winners. Details of those short-listed for both awards are announced at the end of November.

The YJA also makes special awards from time to time to acknowledge services to yachting.


Yachtsman of the Year Award

1955:        Eric Hiscock – round the world in ‘Wanderer’

1956:        Colonel ‘Stug’ Perry – Olympic silver medallist, Melbourne

1957:         Adlard Coles – winner Class III, heavy weather Fastnet Race

1958:        Owen Aisher – ‘Evaine’ racing successes and services to yachting

1959:         Bobby Lowein – ‘Danegeld’ racing successes

1960:         Francis Chichester – winner, first single-handed trans-Atlantic race

1961:        Stewart Morris – International Fourteen class victories

1962:        Nigel Warrington Smythe – RYA Vice President and designer

1963:        Max Aitken, Ron Amey, Derek Boyer and Dennis Miller – winning British Admiral’s Cup team

1964:        Keith Musto and Tony Morgan – Olympic silver medallists, Tokyo

1965:        Ian Proctor – selection of his Tempest design by IYRU

1966:        Reg White – Little America’s Cup victory in ‘Lady Helmsman’

1967:        Charles Gardner – Cowes-Torquay powerboat victory

1968:        Rodney Pattisson and Iain Macdonald-Smith – Olympic gold medallists, Acapulco

1969:        Robin Knox-Johnston – first non-stop solo circumnavigation

1970:        Edward Heath – winner Sydney-Hobart race

1971:        Chay Blyth – solo westbound circumnavigation in ‘British Steel’

1972:         Ted Hicks – first non-USA winner of Newport-Bermuda Race

1973:         Alan Paul – RORC secretary and services to yachting

1974:         Jeremy Rogers – winner of One Ton Cup

1975:          Robin Aisher – Captain, winning British Admiral’s Cup team

1976:         Reg White and John Osborn – Olympic gold medallists, Kingston

1977:          Sir Max Aitken – services to yachting

1978:          Not awarded

1979:          Alain Catherineau – rescue of ‘Griffin’ crew in the Fastnet Race

1980:          Eric Tabarly – West-East Atlantic record

1981:          Les Powles – round the world non-stop alone

1982:          Ewen Southby-Tailyour – cruising guide to the Falklands

1983:          Richard Broadhead – Southern Ocean BOC Race rescue

1984:          RYA Youth Squad – World Youth Champions
Special Award to Michael Richey for services to ocean racing and small craft navigation

1985:         Tony Bullimore and Nigel Irens – ‘Apricot’ racing successes
Special Award to Bernard Hayman for services to yachting

1986:         Harold Cudmore – winner Congressional Cup

1987:         James Hatfield – hole-in-the-heart round the world sailor

1988:        Mike McIntyre and Bryn Vaile – Olympic gold medallists, Pusan
Special Award to Bill Anderson – for services to yachting as RYA Training Manager

1989:        Tracy Edwards – achievement in skippering ‘Maiden’ with first all-women crew in Whitbread Round the World Race

1990:        David Cowper – for his three-year, single-handed voyage through the North-west Passage in a converted lifeboat
Special Award to Major Peter Snowden for services to yachting on his retirement after 18 years as secretary to Cowes Combined Clubs

1991:        Penny Way – for her remarkable achievements in windsurfing, including the World Championship

1992:        Kevin Curtis – winner of gold and bronze medals in Handicapped World Sailing Championship, Barcelona
Special Award to David Thomas, designer of many successful offshore racing classes

1993:       John Chittenden – representing the crew of ‘Nuclear Electric’ – winners of the British Steel Challenge round-the-world race
Special Awards to Chay Blyth, for services to yachting, and Michael Calvin, for services to yachting journalism

1994:        Robin Knox-Johnston and Peter Blake for their record breaking, 74-day, non-stop round the world voyage in ‘Enza’ which captured the Jules Verne Trophy
Special Awards to George Johns, official photographer on board ‘Enza’, and Tim Severin, the celebrated marine adventurer

1995:       The sailors of the RYA Youth Team who won the 1995 IYRU Nautica World Youth Championship
Special Award to Jim Saltonstall, RYA National Racing Coach who was the team coach and manager

1996:       The gold medal winning crew of the 1996 Paralympic World Regatta – Andy Cassell, Kevin Curtis and Tony Downs

1997:       Pete Goss – for outstanding seamanship in the Indian Ocean during the 1996/97 Vendee Globe, single-handed, round-the-world race when he sailed back 160 miles into 60 knot head winds and rescued his fellow competitor, Raphael Danelli

1998:       Ellen MacArthur – for her exceptional performance in the 1998 Route du Rhum Race. At 22 years old she was the youngest ever winner of the trophy

1999:       Ben Ainslie for his exceptional performance in the Laser class

2000:       The Olympic medallists: Ben Ainslie, Shirley Roberston and Iain Percy – Gold; Ian Walker and Mark Covell and Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks – Silver

2001:       Ellen MacArthur – for her record setting performance in the Vendee Globe solo round the world race

2002:       Ben Ainslie – for winning the World, Pre-Olympic and European championships in the Finn Class

2003:      Steve Curtis – for winning the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 powerboat racing world championship five times

2004:      Team GB – The nine medallists from Britain’s victorious 2004 Olympic sailing team

2005:       Dame Ellen MacArthur – for smashing the record to be the fastest, non-stop, solo sailor round the world.

2006:       Dee Caffari – the first woman to sail solo round the world against prevailing winds and tides

2007:      Sir Robin Knox-Johnston for completing the Velux5Oceans solo round the world race at age 68.

2008:       Olympic Gold Medallists at Beijing

Raymarine Lifetime Achievement Award — Dag Pike

2009:       Samantha Davies – round the world yachtswoman, and third in 2008 /9 Vendee Globe

2010       Geoff Holt –  first quadraplegic yachtsman to sail the Atlantic

2011:      Nick Craig – dinghy sailor who won the highly competitive OK World Championship in 2011 and in doing so also became the only person ever, to hold the World, UK National and Inland championship titles.  He also won the RS400 National championship.  To conclude an outstanding year, Nick went on to secure an overall win of the extremely challenging Endeavour Championship for the 5th time.

2012:     Sir Ben Ainslie — four time Olympic gold medallist

2013:      The Rev Bob Shepton, Arctic explorer

Special Lifetime Achievement award – Mike Golding
Special award – Ben Jelf

2014:  Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, aged 75, for completing the transAtlantic Route du Rhum to gain third in class

Lifetime Achievement Award for Iain Percy, OBE, to recognise his contribution to the enormously successful Bart’s Bash  charity initiative to raise funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

2015:  Ian Walker, first British skipper to win Volvo Ocean Race, skippering the Abu Dhabi Ocean Race Team

Lifetime Achievement Award to Mike Peyton, age 95, for his yachting cartoons

2016: Gavin Reid, Clipper Race sailor who swam mid ocean to rescue crewman in Sydney Hobart Race trapped at top of mast.

Special Award to Stephen “Sparky” Park, the RYA’s Olympic Sailing manager for his successes achieved in Rio Olympics.

2017: Alex Thomson  for his remarkable performance in last year’s Vendée Globe solo round the world race.

2018: It was an unprecedented result for the YJA Yachtsman of the Year for 2018 when for the first time in over 60 years with a tie, and the award presented to joint winners, Tracy Edwards and Nikki Henderson.

2019: 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.

2020: Trophy not awarded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

2021: Pip Hare — The Vendée Globe star captured all our attention over the winter with her incredible sailing in the famous non-stop, solo around the world race, communicating the adventure in incredible detail.