TORONTO – Paralympic sailors John McRoberts and Jackie Gay of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club won the Rolex Sailor of the Year Award this past weekend (Feb. 4) at the Sail Canada annual awards event. The award is the most prestigious national sailing award of the year.
McRoberts and Gay won the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this past September in the highly competitive SKUD two-person mixed keelboat fleet. That performance helped rank Canada second overall among sailing nations at the Games.
Partners on and off the water, McRoberts and Gay have overcome many obstacles to success, including a significant injury sustained by Gay just days before Paralympic competition.
“Persistence pays off,’’ said Gay. “We’ve faced many challenges quite similar to this and came out stronger. It gave us the confidence to know that we could overcome anything.”
McRoberts has competed in four Paralympic Games. He also won silver steering the crew boat at the 1996 Atlanta Games when Paralympic sailing was a demonstration sport; he notched bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games navigating the SKUD 18, and was fourth at London 2012.
“If I were writing a book of my career, this would be the perfect ending, winning the Rolex Sailor of the Year beside my wife Jackie Gay,’’ he said. ‘’Sometimes it feels like Rio was a dream but tonight brings it all to life. I feel truly honoured.”
The couple received Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master watches from Rolex Canada.
McRoberts and Gay were not the only Paralympic sailors on the honour roll.
Paul Tingley of Halifax, Scott Lutes of Mahone Bay, N.S. and Logan Campbell of Saskatoon, bronze medallists in the three-person Sonar event at the Paralympic Games in Rio, received the Skippers’ Plan Male Athlete of the Year Award. They were also finalists for the grand prize.
Stephen McBride, McRoberts and Gay’s coach, was named Coach of the Year and l’Association québécoise de voile adaptée received the City of Kingston Regatta of the Year Award.