Ben Ainslie and Lijia Xu were named the male and female winners of the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards at a ceremony held earlier this month at the Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland.
The annual awards, sponsored by Rolex since 2001, are the highest honor a sailor can receive and is recognition of achievement in a 12-month period, in this case from 1 Sept. 1, 2011, to Aug. 31, 2012.
"Winning the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award is a huge honor, especially for everyone who has helped me. There is a huge team in the background from family, friends, coaches and sponsors who helped make it happen,” said Ainslie, who counts 4 Olympic gold medals and now as many ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards on his resume.
"I didn't expect to be the winner," admitted Xu. "It is an honor to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and become the first sailor from China to receive this award. I hope this award can inspire more children in China to take up the sport."