Australian sailing legends will receive the sport’s highest accolade, with four inductees to the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame at the Australian Sailing Awards Dinner, on Friday November 4, at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Hall of Fame inductees for 2022 are Jessica Watson OAM (Queensland), solo world circumnavigator and sailing ambassador, Mat Belcher OAM (Queensland), multiple Olympian, world champion and former World Sailing Male Sailor of the Year, and the team of Tom King OAM and Mark Turnbull OAM (Victoria), Olympian gold medallists and the team whose compelling performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games played a major role in bringing sailing into the spotlight.
Following a Covid-induced hiatus in 2021, the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame acknowledges exceptional performance and contribution at the highest level by an individual or a team, both past and present. The Award includes all sailing categories and positions that contribute to the sport – including coaches and designers.
Australian Sailing partners with the Australian National Maritime Museum to present the Hall of Fame, which is the highest level of recognition for the sport of sailing in Australia. It exists to preserve Australia’s sailing heritage and to recognise the individuals whose international feats locate Australia as world leaders in the sport.
Australian Sailing President, Alistair Murray said, ‘We are proud to partner with the Australian National Maritime Museum, whose continuing support of the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame ensures our national achievements are preserved, and that those who have contributed so much to the sport are recognised, both now and in future.’
Daryl Karp AM, Director and CEO of the Australian National Maritime Museum welcomed the announcement, saying, ‘The museum’s approach to our maritime heritage explores how we, as a nation, are shaped by the sea. Australia’s long and honoured sailing history encompasses traditions and heritage of enormous resonance. Today, we are thrilled to take part in recognising the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees, whose achievements have set records, inspired so many and contributed to the legacy of their field.’
2022 Hall of Fame inductees
Matt Belcher OAM
Queenslander Mat Belcher is recognised as one of the world’s greatest dinghy sailors and our first Olympic skipper to win two gold medals with two different crews, along with multiple world championships crowns. A multiple Olympian, world champion and former World Sailing Male Sailor of the Year, he is one of sailing’s most-recognised and best-regarded champions.
He stands alone as the first Australian skipper to win two Olympic gold medals and the first Australian Olympic sailor in any class to win three Olympic medals at three consecutive Olympics. Belcher made history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after winning gold with Will Ryan in the 470 final, adding to his gold at the London 2012 games, and silver in Rio in 2016. His three medals, in addition to his staggering ten world titles in the 470 class has earned his position as Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor.
Tom King OAM and Mark Turnbull OAM
The King and Turnbull Team played a major role in bringing sailing into the spotlight as one of the most compelling and successful events at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Under coach Victor Kovalenko, the duo won the coveted 470 double: the Olympic Gold Medal and the 470 World Championship. Collectively the Australian teams won the first gold medals by Australian sailors in the Olympic arena in almost three decades.
Sailing together since 1997 in the Olympic 470 class, both Turnbull and King grew up sailing in Victoria and were national junior champions in the Mirror and Sabot classes respectively. As a team, they developed a distinctive technique and tactical skills as they prepared to represent Australia on the international stage. Their ascent of world rankings culminated in a win at the World Championships at Hungary, four months out from their triumph at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Jessica Watson OAM
Jessica Watson’s attempt at a solo, unassisted circumnavigation of the world at just 16 captured the imagination of everyone – sailors and non-sailors alike. The challenges of planning and preparing for her adventure were only the start; she had then to survive it. Her story included terrifying knockdowns at sea, appalling weather and the unpredictable vagaries of homesickness.
Just before her 17th birthday after 210 days as sea, Jessica returned to a hero’s welcome, international headlines and a Sydney Harbour packed with well-wishers. Sceptics and critics stood duly corrected; her success has inspired a generation to pursue their dreams and reach for the extraordinary.