#sailor of the month – With a cut-off date at midnight on Christmas Eve, the lineup for Afloat.ie's "Sailor of the Month" title for December provides only three weeks of peformance time, but it allows the adjudicators to spread their net across the entire year's sailing.
And throughout 2013, one sailor was in close contention for the "Sailor of the Month" award more times than anyone else, yet always missed the top title by a hairsbreadth. But when his year-long performance is considered in its entirety, Ireland's resident Kiwi skipper Ben Duncan is in a league of his own. And as revealed in the Afloat Annual 2014, Ben Duncan became Sailor of the Month for December as the sleigh bells started to jingle.
Duncan is best known for his scientific and extremely thorough approach to campaigning his SB20 at home and abroad. He has raised the sailing of these very special boats to a new level. And in October, after a season of success at home and abroad, he was on top of his form to win the concluding championship on Lough Derg.
But the Duncan success path in 2013 didn't end there. The end of October brought a highly specialised challenge to all the top helms and Race Officer Neil Murphy. The All Ireland Championship at Howth in the SailFleet J/80s, scheduled as a two day event, had to be put through in just one day's very crisply organised racing as one big storm cleared to the eastward, and another roared in from the west.
To add to the unnerving situation, a weather front with gale force gusts came streaking through at mid-event, requiring everyone to return to the harbour. Yet despite the interruptions, the programme was completed with excellent racing, with sunshine for a bonus. And despite sailing in a boat other than his beloved SB20, Ben Duncan put in the performance of a lifetime for a runaway win to round out a great year.