YJA Yachtsman and Young Sailor of the Year Awards, 2018

Shortlisted nominees for the annual prestigious awards are set out below, and which we would urge members to vote now.  We have been able to create a very beneficial environment for the awarding of the trophies, but the timescale is now quite short.

Therefore the closing date for your votes will be 0900 on Thursday, February 28. The nominations for both awards are attached and you will find the voting page on our website at www.yja.world, or by following the link below. Although time is short we do hope you will find time to “tick the box” for your favourite.

We hope that the brief awards ceremony may be “streamed live” and we will circulate information on this nearer to the date.


Paul Goodson, MBE

Paul was born on November 29, 1977 at Brinsworth, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. In March 2005 he was ranked 2nd in the world in the Laser, behind Robert Scheidt of Brazil, and ahead of Michael Blackburn of Australia and Mark Mendelblatt of the United States.

He won the gold medal in the Mens’ Laser class at the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2009 he won the Laser World Championship in Halifax, Canada. He also competed. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, finishing fourth, and the 2012 Summer Olympics, finishing 7th.

In 2006 he won the Moth World Championship in Hayana, Japan and in 2017 won the title a second time in Makesine, Italy (Lake Garda). Finally in 2018 he won the tile third time back to back.

Paul joined Artemis Racing for their 2017 Louis Vuitton Challenger’s Trophy campaign.

Nominated by Bob Fisher

Tracy Edwards, MBE

Tracy began working on charter yachts in Greece at the age of 17 and learned how to sail. Tracy took part in her first Whitbread Round the World Race as cook aboard Atlantic Privateer in 1985/86 becoming the first woman to race around the world on a Maxi.

She inspired a generation of women as the skipper of the first all-female crew to compete in the notoriously difficult Whitbread Round the World Race in 1988/89.  Defying critics they won two legs of the race to come send overall in their class on the yacht Maiden, breaking a record that remains to this day.

She also made history as the first woman to win the Yachtsman of the Year trophy.

Now, thanks to Anything is Possible, the Maiden yacht has been extensively restored to play the central role in the Maiden Factor campaign to raise awareness of the education of girls

A new generation of highly talented all-female crew members are sailing Maiden on a world tour with over 23 destinations in 13 countries, flying the flag for girls’ education, working with local charities and supporting community-led educational projects.

Nominated by Chris English

Nikki Henderson

Nikki Henderson made history when at 24 she was the youngest ever skipper to compete in the round the world event. And coming in second place to Australian Wendy Tuck, she secured an all-female one-two on the podium. The Clipper Race is unique in that it trains everyday people to become ocean racers – with 40 per cent of crew having never sailed before. Nikki skippered her non-professional Visit Seattle team as they raced 40,000 nautical mile around the world battling phenomenal sea states with 14 metre high waves, hurricane force winds, boat speeds up to 35 knots (equivalent to 40 mph), extreme heat and freezing conditions.

Anyone over the age of 18 can participate as a crew member in the Clipper Race and the oldest crew member of Nikki’s Visit Seattle team was 71 years old – almost three times her age. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non stop around the globe who founded the Clipper Race, has said of Nikki, “One of her strength is her leadership. She built a happy and cohesive team and made these 50 people, men and women of all ages and from different nations from around the world, buy into her team ethos “sailing with style’ it takes a special kind of person to be a Clipper Race Skipper – part teacher, counsellor and sports coach and so to lead her team to second place (and it was a nail-biting finish) is an amazing achievement.

Over the 11 months of the race, Nikki and her crew on the Visit Seattle yacht finished second overall in the 2017-18 Clipper Race, missing victory by just four points. She was the youngest person to ever skipper a Clipper Race yacht in the history of the race, and led her team to three outright race victories and two second placed finishes in 13 races. She was able to guide her novice crew safety around the world with little damage to the yacht despite surviving the roughest weather of the fleet through mountainous seas in the North Pacific crossing. Her crew could not be prouder of their achievements and the way Nikki coached them – really a quite remarkable feat as such a young age.

Nominated by Karla Graves


Finn Hawkins (aged 15)

The 15-year-old from St Austell, Cornwall secured a bronze medal in the Youth Olympic by finishing third in the 13th and final race of the boys’ windsurfing class.

Great Britain’s first individual medal of the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Hawkins keep his nerve in the final, showing an ability and attitude well in advance of his years and demonstrated great potential for the future.

Nominated by Gerald New

Emily Mueller (aged 15)

The Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open championships concluded at Plas Heli, Pwllheli with overall victory for Bermuda’s Christian Ebbin and the British championship win going to Emily Mueller – who becomes only the third ever girl to win the national title.

Emily, of Royal Lymington Yacht Cub, was leading the charge for GBR along with her brother Ben at the mid-way point after two days of qualifying races. Following a further two days of gold fleet racing Emily managed to hold onto her lead to finish fourth overall in the open fleet and claim the British Optimist title.

Emily will now see her name on the trophy as only the third girl to ever win the British Optimist Nationals, along with doubt Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Mills, and Vita Heathcot, who has just won silver in the girls 420 at the Youth Sailing world Championships in Texas.

“I usually do well within the girls’ fleet but I never thought I would be able to beat all the boys too,” said Emily, aged 15, following her last Optimist event before moving into 29ers. “I have done lots of hard training this past year with a great, fun group of sailors. It is the perfect way to end my seven years sailing the Optimist.”

Having just missed out on a podium finish at the Optimist Europeans in Holland this summer, Emily was able to take forward her experience from that event to achieve success in the nationals. “I learnt from the mistakes I made there and made sure I stayed calm this time around.   I realised that you have to work for every start, you don’t just do well in the next race because that’s how the rest of the event has been going.  I tried to stick to my normal routine, talking to friends and having a normal bedtime, to not make the event more stressful than usual. I wanted to have a really fun last few Oppie days. I had a low score from the qualifying series which meant that in the final series, I just had to maintain my lead by carrying on consistent sailing rather than having to gain firsts, which probably would have added more pressure.”

Nominated by Pauline Gray.