Today is the big day! Sailors from across the country are gathering to celebrate and recognize the achievements and successes that have happened over the year. As we gather to honour these awards, there is some suspense as to who will be named the 2019 Rolex Sailor of the Year!
The award was first presented in 1986 to America’s Cup supporter Paul Phelan, who successfully organized a merger between Canada’s top 12-meter syndicates. The award now recognizes a Canadian sailor who brings recognition to Canadian sailing, and Sail Canada for their leadership, sportsmanship, and significant involvement in the sport.
Without further ado, here are your 3 finalists!
Alexander Heinzemann & Justin Barnes
While sailing has always been a big part of both of these athlete’s lives, it is only recently that they doubled up in the 49er for a shot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Long before Alex and Justin teamed up in the 49er, they sailed against each other as youths in the Radial and Laser fleets. As a young sailor out of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Alex won the National Youth Championships twice, qualifying him to represent Canada at the Youth World’s in 2009 and 2010. On the other side of the country, Justin made a move from his home club of Frenchman’s Bay to the High Performance Team at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club where he continued to progress and found the encouragement needed to move to the 49er.
Coming together as a team for the first time in 2018, Alex from BC, and Justin from Ontario, put their school and careers aside to compete on the international circuit. Putting in work on and off the water, this duo worked their way to the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru this past summer securing themselves a bronze medal and a country berth for the 49er at the Olympic Games.
Since starting in the Opti, Sarah Douglas has always shown excellence on the water, from her performance on the international Opti circuit to representing Canada at the Youth Olympic Games and then the Pan American games, this sailor has continued the climb to where she now sits as one of the top Laser Radial sailors in the world.
A veteran of receiving awards, Sarah has previously been honoured with the Marvin McDill Memorial Award and the Skippers’ Plan Female Athlete of the Year. She is also now a two time Rolex Sailor of the Year Finalist. As she remains Laser Radial focused on her goal of representing Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Sarah exemplifies world-class performance, dedication and passion for the sport of sailing. She is an inspiration to athletes across Canada and continues to give back to the community.
Sarah makes time to support the Broad Reach Foundation, the Fast and Female program, and returns to her home club of Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club to be a guest coach. Sarah is a true ambassador to the sport of sailing.
A born and raised Vancouverite, it is not surprising that Luke has a deep love for the great outdoors. Growing up sailing at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Luke originally started competing in the Radial, progressing to the Laser Full-Rig and has since competed at the highest levels of international competition in a variety of other fleets. He spent the decade between 2006 and 2016 on the Canadian Sailing Team competing in the Laser, 470, and Nacra fleets, during which he also successfully completed a degree in Civil Engineering from UBC.
A two-time Olympian, Luke sailed the 470 with partner Mike Leigh at the London Olympics in 2012 and then teamed up with veteran Olympian Nikola Girke to compete in the Nacra 17 at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Beyond his Olympic endeavours, Luke has also successfully qualified to represent Canada in the Sunfish at two Pan American Games, bringing home the silver medal in both 2015 and 2019.
Luke is not only a well established sailor, but he is also known for giving back to the community. As a well reputed athlete, he has been taking the time to teach younger generations the tips and tricks which will allow them to succeed. Canada is fortunate to have him on our side.
Stay tuned as we celebrate Canada’s best sailors!
Follow the night on Instagram @sailcanada to get the inside scoop on what’s going on!