Tom Ashley, a young man described as having one of the brightest minds in the sport, has been granted the title of Singapore Airlines New Zealand Sailor of the Year.
The reigning World Champion board-sailor cemented his place in yachting history when he won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics this year, sailing a near perfect regatta and final medal winning race. He was one of four finalists for the Rolex Sailor of the Year, earlier this month in Madrid. That award is the world sailor of the year title.
The 24-year-old from Auckland’s North Shore is fluent in four languages and has been sailing since the age of eight. He has won six of the ten regattas entered since 2006 and his gold medal at Qingdao was the first for New Zealand sailing since 1992. Tom’s considerable success at grand prix level was also enough to earn him finalist status in the highly prestigious Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, announced on 12 November in Madrid, Spain.
“Tom is a very special young New Zealander,” says Yachting New Zealand Chief Executive Des Brennan. “In the end he carried all of our Olympic dreams on his shoulders in Beijing, and delivered. Tom is gifted with intelligence, athleticism and endurance. His contribution to the sport in such a short space of time has been remarkable and he has a very bright future in front of him in whatever he decides to do. I hope that sailing will be included.”