Kirsten Neuschäfer was named female 2023 Rolex World Sailor of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony in Malaga, Spain on Tuesday night.
SA Sailing have sent their congratulations to the 41-year-old sailor from Gqeberha.
Neuschäfer was chosen out of a shortlist of four finalists, all nominated by leading figures in the sailing world, after writing her name into the history books by becoming the first woman to finish first in the solo Golden Globe Race, a journey around the world reliant on no modern technology. She also came to the rescue of a fellow sailor during the course of the event.
According to World Sailing, due to other commitments, Neuschäfer was unable to attend the ceremony in Malaga but in a video message, she said: “It’s such an incredible honour to be a nominee among such amazing, acclaimed and iconic sailors, but to win this award, to be given this recognition by such an esteemed panel of judges and by the public means so, so much to me. Thank you to everyone who has believed in me and cheered me on.”
President of SA Sailing Michael Robinson once again hailed Neuschäfer’s remarkable achievements, saying: “We are so proud of what Kirsten has achieved and send our heartfelt congratulations on adding this prestigious award to her already significant list of accolades.
“Kirsten accomplished what no South African sailor has done before – winning a round-the-world race, and what’s more she did it without the use of modern GPS systems and single-handedly. What a remarkable woman she is.
“This award is just reward for all her efforts and we wish her all the very best in whatever challenge she next sets for herself as she personifies that true South African spirit that anything is indeed possible with hard work and a great deal of determination.
“We are immensely proud,” said Robinson, adding that this is the first time a South African sailor has claimed an individual accolade at the prestigious World Sailing Awards.
Meanwhile, Tom Slingsby was named male 2023 Rolex World Sailor of the Year for the third time at the World Sailing Awards 2023 after guiding his Australia SailGP to a third consecutive title, ensuring he is still the only skipper to have won the SailGP trophy. He was also skipper of American Magic, winner of the inaugural event of the 2024 America’s Cup.
The Magenta Project, which advocates for gender diversity across the sailing industry, won the 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award. The AC40 was named Boat of the Year, 11th Hour Racing won Team of the Year, Dick Rose was presented with the Beppe Croce Trophy and the Andrew Simpson Foundation won the President’s Development Award.
Featured photo credit: Tim Bishop/GGR/PPL