Once again a Finn sailor has been nominated for one of the highest awards in sailing, the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.
Following the Finn Class’ nomination of current World Champion Ed Wright (GBR) for the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sail of the Year Award, ISAF official announced on Tuesday 28 September that Wright has been accepted as one of the nominees going forward for the final awards ceremony on November 9th during the annual ISAF Conference in Athens.
Ed Wright’s achievements over the past year are truly extraordinary. He is the only male sailor to have won the ISAF Sailing World Cup twice. This outstanding achievement demonstrates his ability to race at the highest level for a long period and in different sailing conditions.
He also recorded victories at both the 2010 Rolex Miami OCR regatta and the 2010 Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, picked up a Silver medal at the 2010 Finn Europeans in Split and at the 2009 Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth. In September he also realised his crowning achievement so far by winning the 2010 Finn Gold Cup (the class world championship) in San Francisco.
Wright first moved into the Finn class in 2005 after outgrowing the Laser and immediately starting pulling in some results with a third in Hyeres that year. In 2006 he won the European Championships and followed that later in the same year with a third place at the Finn Gold Cup.
He wrote about his entry into the class in 2005 in Photo FINNish (pub 2009, IFA), “I had no idea how rewarding it could be to sail the Finn. In all my years of sailing I had looked up to these guys who are able to race these boats well. Most Olympic boats are underpowered, but I cannot say that about the Finn. It is a boat that rewards strength and power and at the same time finesse and feeling combined with great tactical racing.”
He also described his approach to training. “[Chris] Cook…mentioned this attitude and training regime his predecessors had used…three sports per day. I loved it and adopted it with a passion. There was no time to waste – sailing, golf, gym, cycling, football – anything that was competitive and would push mind and body to its limits. This cross training left us crashed out every night and then we did it all again the next day.”
Using the winter months to train in Florida more results started to come and by 2009 he was at the top of his game and winning regattas. He probably would have been a favourite for a medal at the 2008 Olympic Games but for fellow countryman Ben Ainslie.
In a nation that has more top Finn sailors than any other (GBR had four in the top 10 in the 2010 Finn Gold Cup, plus the absent Ainslie), there is a very strong team both to challenge Wright, but also one that is capable of beating him. This has encouraged him to strive for higher levels of fitness and competitiveness and has resulted in winning four sailing World Cup events over the past two years and a string of other podium finishes.
He entered the 2009 Finn Gold Cup as one of the absolute favourites after recording wins at the Rolex Miami OCR and the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, and a third at the Europeans. It was looking good at the half way stage, but then a black flagged start cost him dearly and he ended up sixth. This big disappointment led him to coming back even stronger in 2010 and he dominated on the water this year in San Francisco.
Wright’s results are arguably the best of any Finn sailor over the past year and underline his commitment to being the best in a very challenging class. He is also undoubtedly one of the fittest sailors in the world with a VO2 max of 72. VO2 max is a measure of the body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise and can be used as a measure of fitness or aerobic capacity; the higher the number, the fitter the athlete. A superior VOR max for a 30-40 year old is around 50. A VOR max of 72 is more typically found in marathon runners and cross-country skiers. This high level of fitness is without question one of the keys to his success in San Francisco and throughout the past year.
In being nominated for the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award, Wright joins a long list of Finn and former Finn sailors who have been both nominated and have won this ultimate accolade. After so much hard work, dedication and attention to detail, could this be Ed Wright’s year to pick up the biggest award in sailing?