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Fran and Jackson

Meet the Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards winners

Issue date

The 2018 Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards are just around the corner and some winners have already been announced. In the first of a two-part series, meet half of the winners in the service, youth performance and performance categories.

Service Awards

Graham Ashford – Pohara Boat Club

Graham Ashford

The Pohara Boat Club was founded by Graham ‘Ash’ Ashford’s father in 1960 so it is almost true to say he was born into the club. Graham was a successful sailor in the 1960s-80s and since then has helped build the club’s fleet of Optimists and O’pen Bics, served on the committee and been commodore and club manager. One of Graham’s biggest contributions was in the development of the club’s premises at Port Tarakohe, which involved 14 years of planning, fundraising and going through the resource consent process.

Rob & Anne Daniel – Lake Mahinapua Aquatic Club


It is the people who make a club and Rob and Anne Daniel have gone a long way to making the Lake Mahinapua Aquatic Club what it is today. The pair have been actively involved since 1990. Rob has held a number of positions, including commodore and secretary, and has trained and supported many young sailors – sometimes picking them up from home if transport was an issue. Anne has been club treasurer for the past 13 years and she has been so efficient the club are reluctant to let her retire.

Ron & Anne Finch – Waimakariri Sailing Club

Rob and Anne Finch

Ron and Anne Finch are never far away from the Waimakariri Sailing Club. Over the past 28 years, Ron has been secretary, vice commodore, commodore and safety officer. He’s also maintained the club’s website and social media, acted as photographer and produces the club’s newsletter. Anne is a committee member and for the past 18 years has been club canteen manager and co-ordinator, organising catering for many national and regional regattas as well as this year’s 90th anniversary celebrations – when she also chaired the organising committee.

Keith Fraser – Heretaunga Boating Club

Keith Fraser

Every club needs a Keith Fraser. He’s the type of guy who gets things done, leads by example and puts the interests of others before himself. He’s built up Heretaunga’s junior training capacity, been a race officer, coached juniors multiple times a week, come up with ideas to keep sailors in the sport, mentored junior members as coaches and been a committee member for more than 10 years. He’s the type of guy who, on a Saturday afternoon, is last off the beach for racing to make sure everyone else is sorted and then first to the finish line.

Trevor Knowles – Motueka Yacht & Cruising Club

Trevor Knowles

Trevor was commodore of the Motueka Yacht and Cruising Club for 22 years until stepping back to be vice commodore this year but it hasn’t diminished his contribution to the club. He has been a key part of the club’s fabric since the 1980s from competing in club trailer yacht racing and race management through to the marina development and boat shed projects. The club grew from less than 100 to about 150 members under Trevor’s stewardship and he’s been a critical voice for regional sailing and boating.

Youth Performance Awards

Josh Armit – Murrays Bay Sailing Club

Josh Armit

Josh is one of the most talented prospects of recent times and this year was a finalist in the emerging talent category at this year’s Halberg Awards. The 16-year-old won the Laser Radial at the 2018 youth sailing world championships in the United States, doing it with a day to spare. He followed this up with second at the Laser Radial youth world championships in a field of 270 sailors - Josh won the under-17 title at the same event the previous year – and also won the Laser Radial national title and was second at the Australian Laser national championships.

Francesco Kayrouz & Jackson Keon – Wakatere Boating Club & Murrays Bay Sailing Club

Fran and Jackson

Fran and Jackson kicked off the year by becoming the first New Zealand pair to win the 29er world championships since the class’ first worlds in 2000. The event also doubled as the youth world title. The pair also won the North Island championships and Sir Peter Blake Regatta and were second in the 29er youth trials, nationals and Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta.

Seb Lardies & Scott McKenzie – Kohimarama Yacht Club

Seb and Scott

Seb and Scott narrowly missed out on gold in the 29er at this year’s youth sailing world championships, finishing second on countback. The pair, who started the final day 10 points behind the leaders, went on the attack in the final race and got the Norwegians in trouble, only for the two crews to finish on the same points. The pair were also eight at last year’s youth worlds, third in the Hong Kong Open, fifth at the 29er worlds, fifth a Eurocup event in at Kiel and second at the Eurocup in Gdynia.

Seb Menzies & Blake McGlashan – Murrays Bay Sailing Club

Seb and Blake

Seb and Blake have quickly established themselves as two of New Zealand’s most promising young sailors after winning this year’s 420 world title by a mammoth 48 points little more than a year after jumping in the boat together. What was even more remarkable was the fact Menzies was 13 and McGlashan 15 at the time, competing in an open division. An illustration of their progress was the fact they were 41st at the 2017 420 world championships and then fifth at the youth sailing world championships. Seb also won the 2018 Tauranga Cup in the P-Class.

Performance Awards

Stu Bannatyne – Royal Point Nicholson Yacht Club

Stu Bannatyne

Stu is known as a few things, including King of the Southern Ocean, but can now add the title as the most successful sailor in Volvo Ocean Race history. This year's victory with Dongfeng Race Team came 25 years after his first when he sailed on Grant Dalton's maxi New Zealand Endeavour and he also tasted success with Illbruck Challenge (2001–02) and Ericsson 4 (2008–09). He's regarded as one of the world's best heavy-weather helmsmen and is why he's also completed 10 Fastnet Races, five Transpacs and 12 Sydney to Hobart races. 

Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn – Wakatere Boating Club and Murrays Bay Sailing Club

Logan and Oscar

Logan and Oscar announced themselves on the international scene in impressive fashion. The pair, who have been sailing the 49er together for less than 18 months, finished on the podium at a handful of regattas over the past 12 months including the 2017 Olympic Week, Hyeres World Cup and Enoshima World Cup. They also led the fleet for a couple of days at the sailing world championships in Aarhus.

Anthony Leighs – Naval Point Club Lyttelton


Leighs and his small team achieved international recognition as the world’s fastest offshore 35-foot monohull. The black Elliott speed machine Crusader achieved success in events from the Coastal Classic and Central Triangle Race to Round Noumea and Transpac. Notably, Crusader was the first yacht under 40 feet to finish the 2017 Fastnet race and was ninth overall out of nearly 100 starters, and smallest vessel to finish, the brutal 2017 Rolex Middle Sea race that saw only 35 percent of boats finishing.

David McDiarmid, Matthew Steven and Brad Collins – Royal Akarana Yacht Club

Honda Marine

The trio made history when they became the first New Zealand team to win the JJ Giltinan Trophy in 44 years, an event widely considered the world championships of 18-foot skiff racing. The Honda Marine team, who won last year’s European title as well as the 2017 Anzac regatta, had come close before and had to withstand a sustained effort from a team of fellow Kiwis – Maersk Line.

  • Tune into the next Briefings on November 21 to catch the remainder of the award winners who have already been announced. The main winners will be announced on the night at a gala dinner at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on November 23. Grab your tickets here.