Clipper Race champion awaits reveal of Sail Canada’s 2014 Rolex Sailor of the Year Award

05 February 2015

Tomorrow night (6:30pm EST) the Sail Canada Awards take place in Toronto and one of the finalists for its biggest accolade, the 2014 Rolex Sailor of the Year Award, is Clipper Race winning skipper Eric Holden.

Vancouver-born Eric was our first-ever Canadian skipper and is one of five nominees, three of whom are jointly nominated, for Sail Canada's most prestigious award. Presented annually, the award is made to a Canadian sailor who brings recognition to Canadian sailing and Sail Canada by attaining high levels of excellence in high performance sailing, illustrates leadership qualities, and demonstrates respect and sportsmanship.

Eric Holden first set his sights on competing in the Clipper Race in 1999 when his sister completed two legs of the race. Throughout the 2013-14 race as skipper of the Henri Lloyd entry, Eric was recognised as Sailor of the Month four times for during the eleven month long race and also claimed the 2013 Gerry Roufs trophy, for his second consecutive time.

“Whenever I thought the team couldn’t be pushed any harder, they dug deeper through some of the worst sailing conditions I have ever seen on the planet. I am very proud of what we accomplished as a team. It has been a life-changing adventure,” says Eric.

"Not until I came home to Canada recently did I see how avidly people were following this race and how much we were being cheered on. I am proudly Canadian, passionate about sailing, and honoured to be among the finalists for Rolex Sailor of the Year."

Henri Lloyd’s Canadian crew members, Morgen Watson, Phil Driver, James Dick, Fiona Garforth-Bles, and Mike Jauncey, are also attending the awards as they will pick up the prestigious Gerry Roufs Trophy for offshore racing, established in the memory of the internationally renowned Canadian sailor and single-handed offshore racer who was lost at sea in 1997.

Fiona Garforth-Bles, a nurse from Bragg Creek, Alberta, who raced the final two legs from San Francisco to New York via Panama and Jamaica, and then to the London Race Finish via Northern Ireland, says: “I feel very honoured to get this award as I've always been a tremendous admirer of Gerry Roufs and remember only too well the day he tragically went missing at sea.

“I'm also very aware that this award is really for the whole crew who did such an amazing job working hard as a team to support Eric. Without our brilliant skipper we wouldn't be winning this. In my real life, I'm an oncology nurse so I would never have imagined it possible to win this award. A very big thank you to Eric, crew and to the Clipper Race for making it all possible.”

Andy Roy and the Canadian Sonar sailors Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes are the other finalists for the 2014 Rolex Sailor of the Year Award. Click here to find out more about the nominees, and stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook for news on the final award announcement.

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