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Seven Sailors inducted into World Sailing's Hall of Fame

In 2007 the International Sailing Federation celebrated its centenary and to mark the occasion, introduced a Hall of Fame. Olin Stephens, Dame Ellen Macarthur, Paul Elvström, Barbara Kendall, Eric Tabarly and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston were all inducted in the first instance.

They have been joined by seven new inspirational sailors who have been honoured at the 2015 Annual Conference.

These individuals have made a significant impact on the water, but also with their remarkable attitudes and dedication to sailing whilst onshore.  They have all in their own way helped shape the sport we enjoy today.

The inductees are:

Dennis Conner

If one is to think of sailors of the America's Cup, one name springs to mind instantly – Dennis Conner.  A four times winner.

Conner, known as Mr. America's Cup to you and me, has experienced the full gamut of the cup, as the defeated, the defender and ultimately the winner of the Cup.  In 1980, Conner was credited with turning the America's Cup into a professional competition with sailing occurring on 300 days of the year.

Conner has also made his mark in sailing outside of the Cup, with an incredible 28 World Championship victories and an Olympic Bronze medal from the 1976 Games.

Alessandra Sensini

Alessandra Sensini is the most successful female Olympic sailor in history, with a total medal count of one Gold, one Silver and two Bronze medals.  Her remarkable achievements have covered three different classes within the windsurfer discipline.  Her ability to remain at the top of her sailing for such an extended period is tribute to her level of talent and dedication to her sport.

Sensini was in Sanya to receive her recognition and was presented with a unique blue World Sailing logo pennant that only inductees to the Hall of Fame received.

On her induction Sensini said, "I want to thank you all because it is an honour for me to be here today. Some years ago I received the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award and that was amazing for me. To be inducted into the Hall of Fame is totally unexpected.

"I want to thank ISAF President Carlo Croce because after I stopped competing he brought me into the Italian Federation to support and promote Youth Sailing and the new generation. I hope that I will be able to inspire the new generation and pass on my knowledge in the sport of sailing.”

Harold Vanderbilt (1884 – 1970)

Harold Vanderbilt was a man of many talents.  Along with his champion sailing, a champion bridge player (he influenced changes to the rules of game which are still in force today), an author and a pilot.

However it was his achievements in the America's Cup J-Class boats where he stood tall.  Vanderbilt successfully defended the Cup in 1930, 1934 and 1937.

Vanderbilt was also instrumental in developing and promoting a set of racing rules based on his experience in the America's Cup.  It was through his efforts with the assistance of other visionaries that the modern Racing Rules of Sailing were adopted in 1960.

Sir Peter Blake (1948 – 2001)

Sir Peter Blake is one man who can truly be described as a legend amongst the sailing world.  The New Zealander achieved greatness in many aspects of our sport.  From leading New Zealand to victory twice in the America's Cup, to winning the Whitbread Round the World Race and holding the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest sailing time around the world.

Sir Peter was also known for his efforts in promoting environmental protection.  Indeed it was his pursuit of environmental water monitoring which took him to the Amazon River in 2001 where his life was tragically taken during a pirate attack.

Sir Peter Blake was also the joint inaugural winner of the Rolex World Sailor of the Year award in 1994.

Buddy Melges

The Melges name has had a massive impact on modern sailing particularly with the family's boat building company.

Buddy has achieved competitive greatness in areas as diverse as Olympic Sailing (Bronze medal in 1964 in the Flying Dutchman and a Gold medal in 1972 in the Soling), the America's Cup (Oldest helmsman to win at 62 years), numerous World Championship victories in the Star and 5.5 Meter classes and finally as an Ice Boat Champion.

His contribution in being an engaged and fierce competitor across multiple classes as well as his ongoing development in boat design have helped shape sailing as it is today.

Valentin Mankin (1938 – 2014)

Valentin Mankin who was born in the Ukraine is still the only Olympic Sailor to have become an Olympic Champion across three different classes.  Mankin won the Gold medal in 1968 in the Finn class, Gold in 1972 in the Tempest, as well as a Silver medal in the Tempest in 1976.  He then won Gold again in 1980 in the Star class.

Mankin is also regarded in high esteem for his work ethic, his leadership as a mentor and for being an all round great sportsman.

Torben Grael

Torben Grael is one of Brazil's greatest sailing exports.  He is one of only three individuals to have won five Olympic medals in sailing, including two Bronze medals, a Silver medal and two Gold medals across two classes (Soling and Star).

Further to this impressive record, Grael has also excelled in other areas of sailing.  He has won both the Volvo Ocean Race (as skipper of 'Ericsson 4') and the Louis Vuitton Cup (as tactition on 'Luna Rossa'). He has also won numerous World Championships including in the Star class and 12 Meter class.

In recognition of his achievements, Grael was awarded the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award in 2009.

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