Sarah Ayton MBE, tactician on The Wave, Muscat Extreme Sailing Series team, has been named 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year – the highest award in the sport – at a glittering awards ceremony in Sanya, China.

As part of Oman Sail, Sarah has played a vital role in inspiring the next generation of female sailors in Oman Sail’s Women’s Programme, offering advice and inspiration, and giving the young sailors an up close look at The Wave, Muscat’s Extreme 40 craft.

Speaking at the event, Sarah complimented her fellow nominees and said, “It means such a lot to me to have won the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. I’m truly touched and proud. I hope to continue being an inspiration to women, young children and individuals who enjoy the sport that we love so much.”

David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail, said, “This is a fantastic achievement for Sarah, and one that is thoroughly deserved. Since joining Oman Sail’s Extreme Sailing team The Wave, Muscat, we have seen first-hand what an incredibly talented individual she is, both as a sailor and as a mentor to our young female sailors and the youth team. She is an inspiration to all of us and we are proud to consider Sarah part of the Oman Sail family.”

Sarah joined Oman Sail in 2014, bringing her experience of winning gold in the Yngling class at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and 2008 in Beijing to The Wave, Muscat Extreme Sailing Series team. Her impact has been evident this year as the crew posted five wins out of seven Acts, never finishing outside of the top three. With one Act to go in Sydney, Australia, in December, the team holds a commanding lead over the fleet.

The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards took place during the ISAF Annual Conference, the most important gathering of the year with 500 of the top athletes, leaders and decision makers in the sport of sailing in attendance.

Introducing the event, Carlo Croce, President of the International Sailing Federation, said: “This award is truly a special recognition for an individual or pair of sailors that has stood out during the year. It is a culmination of hard work and endeavor, combined perhaps with a bit of good fortune. Most nominees are here tonight, and if they are not, they are doing what they do best – sailing.”

The duo of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke won the male ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award, having dominated the sailing scene over the last year, winning ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas, Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta and the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, while also competing in the America’s Cup World Series with Emirates Team New Zealand.