It is unlikely that the BlackMatch Racing team of Adam Minoprio, Nick Blackman, Dave Swete, Dan McLean and Tom Powrie will forget 2010 in a hurry.

Reigning champions of the prestigious World Match Racing Tour (and in a strong position to retain their title at this week's Monsoon Cup in Malaysia), the team were last Friday named the 2010 Singapore Airlines Sailor of the Year at the Yachting Excellence Awards.

The team, all products of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Youth Programme, have rocketed to the top of the World Match Racing Tour. They sit atop the ISAF world rankings, sailed to victory in the world title in 2009 and are in a close second place on this year's tour.

With just the Monsoon Cup to go in this year's year championship, the team has been one of the most consistently good performers on the circuit. They have won two of the eight regattas so far (Match Race Germany and the Danish Open), finished 3rd twice and only once been out of the top eight.

Laser sailor Thomas Saunders, from the Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club, was named Young Sailor of the Year for 2010. Saunders beat a field of 50 competitors from 50 nations to win gold in the Laser at in this year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships.

The single-handed event was the largest and arguably the toughest at the world's most highly-rated youth regatta, a regatta often seen as the closest thing to an Olympic competition for youth-aged sailors.

Long-time coach and world-renowned race manager Harold Bennett was also honoured: being the first recipient of Yachting New Zealand's inaugural Coach/Official of the Year Award.

As Principal Race Officer for the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia in February, Bennett faced the daunting task of running a contest like none before.

With defender Alinghi and challenger BMW Oracle facing off in equally huge but massively dissimilar multi-hills, Bennett had to set a match race course on a track that stretched into deep water and out of sight of land.

He also had to deal with high emotions and an apparent mutiny from Alinghi officials not keen to start one of the races.

Unfazed by any of this, or by the threat of approaching winter storms, Bennett famously stood his ground, acted with integrity and ran an incredible regatta.

Another to be honoured at the gala awards ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron was Jayvee Buchanan, winner of the Emerging Talent Award 2010.

Buchanan, from the Charteris Bay and Murrays Bay Yacht Clubs has been sailing in the Optimist class for six years, achieving a consistently high result. He has represented New Zealand at four international regattas, won the New Zealand Optimist Open Championship at Murrays Bay in October 2009 and the North Island Optimist Open Championship in Napier in November 2009.

He also won the Sir Peter Blake Memorial Trophy last December and is seen as a future star of New Zealand sailing.

Several sailors also received Yachting New Zealand Performance Awards: Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie, RNZYS, Olympic class Women's 470; Blackmatch Racing, RNZYS, World Match Racing Tour; Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club and Kerikeri Cruising Club, Olympic class 49er; Neville Crichton, RNZYS, Offshore Yacht racing; Scott Leith, Pupuke Boating Club, Masters Laser Radial; Andrew Murdoch, Kerikeri Cruising Club, Olympic class Laser; Karl Purdie, Worser Bay Boating Club, OK Dinghy; Thomas Saunders, Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club, Laser Youth; Chris Steele, Wakatere Boating Club, Splash class and Sara Winther, Takapuna Boating Club, Olympic class Laser Radial.

Two yachtsmen received Yachting New Zealand Cruising Awards 2010: Graeme Kendall for his solo circumnavigation which included passing through the famed North West Passage on the 12.5 metre Astral Express; and Phillip Zwiess for his solo circumnavigation on the Cavalier 32, Caval.

Yachting Excellence Awards
Major winner: Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Sailor of the Year: BlackMatch Racing: Adam Minoprio, Nick Blackman, Dave Swete, Dan McLean and Tom Powrie

Young Sailor of the Year: Thomas Saunders

Inaugural Coach/Official of the Year: Harold Bennett

yachtingnz.org.nz