New Zealand Olympic class sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie have picked up the Rolex ISAF Female Sailor of the Year award for 2013.
The pair beat out four finalists at a presentation ceremony in Muscat, Oman at the end of year ISAF Conference.
The reigning Olympic and World Champions in the Women's 470 class are the first ever New Zealand women to be honoured with the ISAF Female World Sailor of the Year title.
"I'm a little bit shocked," said Aleh. "There were some amazing nominees this year and we are delighted to be part of this. We feel honoured to be part of the group."
"We haven't done this alone and we had some wonderful people behind us who have been truly supportive," added Powrie.
The ISAF World Sailor Awards were launched in 1994, and just three other New Zealanders feature in the previous winners list.
They include Sir Russell Coutts who has won ISAF Male Sailor of the Year twice, in 1995 and 2003, Mike Sanderson in 2006 and Sir Peter Blake in 1994. Both Leslie Egnot and Barbara Kendall have been named finalist nominees in 1995 and 1999 respectively.
Being crowned 2013 470 Women's World Champions was Aleh and Powrie's pinnacle achievement this year, the title was a first for them and came exactly one year to the day since they won Olympic Gold.
Aleh and Powrie announced their campaign towards Rio 2016 in December last year and since getting back in the boat early in 2013 have taken out Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup in Garda and Delta Lloyd Regatta adding the 2013 World title in August.
"It's been a pretty big year for us," says Jo Aleh. "We went into it to try and do it a bit differently and we did some different events. It's been a very busy year and we've fitted in a lot. We're pretty happy that we finally ticked off that World Championship, that was really good and been learning all year and having fun.
Powrie added, "We were super happy to win and there was a lot of relief we'd finally managed to do it. We'd done a few 470 Worlds before that and to finally tick it off, for us that was our goal this year and we're happy we achieved it.
"Next year will probably be a bit different as this year was a bit busy so we'll have to tone things down and concentrate more on 470 sailing and obviously we've got Olympic selection next year and that's a massive hurdle to get through. From there it's a similar program with World Championships and World Cups through to Rio."