Clipper Race sailors celebrated in 2014 Sail Canada Awards

22 December 2014

The 2013-14 race may be long completed but the celebrations continue for winning team Henri Lloyd following the announcement of the 2014 Sail Canada Awards.

Vancouver's Eric Holden, the first ever Canadian Clipper Race skipper, has been named as one of three finalists for the most respected accolade in Canadian sailing, the Rolex Sailor of the Year Award.

As an early Christmas present, Henri Lloyd's Canadiancrew members, Morgen Watson, Phil Driver, James Dick, Fiona Garforth-Bles and Mike Jauncey are overjoyed to find out they have been jointly awarded the Gerry Roufs Trophy for offshore racing, marking the first ever time the trophy has been awarded to more than one person in the same year.

Eric, currently in Australia preparing to compete in his fourth Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, says: “It is great to see the team get a piece of the recognition that they deserve. I said all along that we would sail this race together and we would not have got where we did without their individual effort, dedication, and sacrifice. The whole team are deserving of this award."

"Not until I came home to Canada 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."

The Gerry Roufs Trophy was established in 1998 by the Canadian Yachting Association to honour the memory of Gerry Roufs, the internationally renowned Canadian sailor and single-handed offshore racer who was lost at sea in 1997.

The crew were clearly delighted to find out about the accolade. College graduate Morgen Watson of Calgary says: "It's an honour to receive the Gerry Roufs trophy, which our Skipper Eric has received for the last two years.

“Personally I plan to continue offshore racing and hope to further promote offshore sailing in Canada, so winning the award continues the great momentum coming off of the Clipper Race win. Our team is very proud and we are now all looking forward to the announcement of Sail Canada's Sailor of the Year in February.”

Fiona Garforth-Bles, a nurse from Bragg Creek, Alberta 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.”

Construction inspector Michael Jauncey from Toronto says: “What a great honour and a proud day for all on board Henri LIoyd. I am especially honoured and proud to accept this award on behalf of the entire team, alongside Eric who lead the entire team beautifully; Morgen who is an impressive young sailor and excellent watch leader; Phil who was a good pal and demonstrated great patience during the race; our engineer James who made sure Henri Lloyd stayed in one piece, and lastly but most importantly nurse Fiona who, through several set-backs, made sure I made it one piece.”

Phil Driver, a British-Canadian currently residing in the UK, says: “The award of the 2014 Gerry Roufs Trophy underscores the significance of the Clipper Race in the sailing world. While there were five Canadian crew on board, the success of Henri Lloyd in claiming 1st place overall was a total team effort, led of course by our skipper Eric Holden.

“It was a special feeling to lead the fleet up the Thames on our return with the Maple Leaf flying proudly and it is an honour to accept this award on behalf of team Henri Lloyd.”

Throughout the Clipper 2013-14 race, Eric was named Sail Canada’s Sailor of the Month for November 2013 and then April, May and July in 2014. He also won the Gerry Roufs Trophy at the 2013 Sail Canada Awards, for the second consecutive time.

The Sail Canada Awards, including the announcement of the Rolex Sailor of the Year Award, will take place on 6 February 2015 in Toronto, Canada. Click here to read the full list of awards.

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