World Sailing (formerly ISAF), is the world governing body for the sport of sailing. The ISAF World Sailor of the Year Awards was launched in 1994 by the International Sailing Federation.
The awards have been sponsored by Rolex since 2001 and now are called, The Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. Individual sailors for outstanding achievements in the sport during the year are honoured with these awards, which is the highest award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her achievements. These awards are presented every November of the year, to one male and one female winner.
World Sailing is responsible for – the promotion of the sport worldwide, managing sailing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, developing the racing rules of sailing and managing all sailing competitions in the world, training of judges, umpires and other administrators, representing the sailors in all matters concerning the sport. The ‘Member National Authorities’ (MNAs) and the ‘Class Associations’ are the principal members of World Sailing. The MNAs are the national governing bodies for sailing around the world. Class Associations are members of World Sailing which mean they are entitled to hold a World Championship.
The speciality is Rolex Awards are presented to the sailors by the sailors and not by the celebrities from other fields. Two Awards, one for a female sailor/crew and one for a male sailor/crew, are presented each year during the World Sailing Annual Conference in November. This conference is a week-long series of meetings on different issues related to the sport. The conference brings together the decision-makers in the sport, they debate the issues affecting the future of sailing and the past happening in the year. Sailors selected as nominees for the awards may represent any aspect of the sport or any issue they want to raise which has caused inconvenience or is the betterment for the sport.
The procedure for the selection is quite exhaustive. Nominations of the sailors can be made by the national governing bodies for the sport of sailing, Class Associations, World Sailing Committee Members, sailors and any other interested parties. A shortlist is then prepared from all nominations, and then the World Sailing Member National Authorities determine the winners.
To keep the anxiety of the names, the winners are announced only on the night of the presentation when they receive the prestigious award and a Rolex timepiece.