Sailing legends inducted into the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame

Australian sailing legends will receive the sport’s highest honour, with four inductees into the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame at the Australian Sailing Awards dinner on Friday November 4 at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The Hall of Fame inductees for 2022 are Jessica Watson OAM (Queensland), world solo circumnavigator and sailing ambassador, Mat Belcher OAM (Queensland), multiple Olympian, world champion and former World Male Sailor of the Year Sailing, and the team of Olympic gold medalists Tom King OAM and Mark Turnbull OAM (Victoria) and the team whose convincing performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics played a major role in bringing the sail.

After a Covid-induced hiatus in 2021, the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding performance and contribution at the highest level by an individual or team, past and present. The award includes all sailing categories and positions that contribute to the sport – including coaches and designers.

Australian Sailing partners with the Australian National Maritime Museum to present the Hall of Fame, which is the highest level of recognition for the sport of sailing in Australia. It exists to preserve Australia’s nautical heritage and to recognize individuals whose international achievements place Australia as a world leader in sport.

Australian Sailing Chairman Alistair Murray said: “We are proud to partner with the Australian National Maritime Museum, whose continued support of the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame ensures that our national achievements are preserved and those who have contributed so much to the sport are recognized, now and in the future.

Daryl Karp, Director and CEO of the Australian National Maritime Museum, welcomed the announcement saying: “The museum’s approach to our maritime heritage explores how we as a nation are shaped by sea. The long and honored history of sailing in Australia encompasses traditions and heritage of enormous resonance. We are thrilled to help recognize the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees, whose achievements have set records, inspired so many, and contributed to the legacy of their field.

2022 Hall of Fame Inductees

Matt Belcher MAO

Queenslander Mat Belcher is recognized as one of the greatest dinghy sailors in the world and our first Olympic skipper to win two gold medals with two different crews, as well as multiple World Championship crowns. A multiple Olympian, world champion and former World Sailing Male Sailor of the Year, he is one of sailing’s most recognized and beloved champions.

He is the only Australian skipper to win two Olympic gold medals and the first Australian Olympic sailor of any class to win three Olympic medals in three consecutive Olympic Games. Belcher made history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after winning gold with Will Ryan in the 470 final, adding to his gold at the London 2012 Games and silver at Rio 2016. His three medals , in addition to his staggering ten world titles in the 470 class has earned his position as Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor.

Tom King OAM and Mark Turnbull OAM

The King and Turnbull team played a major role in putting sailing in the spotlight as one of the most compelling and successful events of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Under the guidance of coach Victor Kovalenko, the duo won the coveted 470 double: the Olympic gold medal and the 470 World Championship. Collectively, the Australian teams won the first gold medals for Australian sailors in the Olympic arena in almost three decades.

Sailing together since 1997 in the Olympic 470 class, Turnbull and King grew up in Victoria and were national junior champions in the Mirror and Sabot classes respectively. As a team, they developed distinctive technique and tactical skills as they prepared to represent Australia on the international stage. Their rise in the world rankings culminated in victory at the World Championships in Hungary, four months from their triumph at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Jessica Watson MAO

Jessica Watson’s attempt to circumnavigate the globe solo and unassisted at just 16 captured the imagination of everyone, sailors and non-sailors alike. The challenges of planning and preparing for his adventure were just the beginning; she had to survive it then. Its story included terrifying upsets at sea, dreadful weather, and the unpredictable vagaries of homesickness.

Just before her 17th birthday after 210 days at sea, Jessica returned to a hero’s welcome, international headlines and a Sydney Harbor full of well-wishers. Skeptics and critics were duly corrected; its success inspired a generation to pursue their dreams and achieve the extraordinary.

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