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Instructor and Coach of the year 2023

Published Fri 01 Dec 2023

The Australian Sailing Awards have been the premier off-water celebration nation-wide for several decades. In 2014, the categories of, Instructor of the Year and Coach of the Year, were added with nominations being given by State Associations. 

The winner of Instructor of the Year and Coach of the Year was announced at the 2023 Australian Sailing Awards in Sydney in November. 

This year saw Volunteer Robert Cooper as the Sailing School Principal at Rye Yacht Club (RYC) and oversees win Instructor of the Year.

Robert “Bob” coordinates 12 instructors (six Tackers instructors, two assistant instructors and approximately 25 volunteers) to ensure RYC can deliver their programs successfully. 

Cooper is the leading instructor for the OutThere Sailing program, the two Development Squad Coaching groups, an Adult Coaching group, all Powerboat Courses, Foil Labs and Learn to Wing Programs. He also oversees the Adult Learn to Sail Program (Start Sailing 1 and 2) and the Tackers Combined Program (1, 2 and 3) which are run by other Instructors. In addition, Cooper has introduced kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding to the club’s curriculum. These additions have been incredibly successful, with the local school, Rye Primary, enrolling all of its Year 6 students. 

Cooper always embraces change and new ideas and commits countless hours to the Sailing School to help the Club grow and move forward. 

Ben Durham winner of the Coach of the Year has produced some impressive results over the past few years. In 2023, Durham continued coaching the Australian Sail GP Team who had another outstanding season, finishing first overall in the third Season of Sail GP. A major focus of this season for him was coaching the female athletes through the Women’s Pathway Program, with Durham helping to integrate Nina Curtis, Tash Bryant and Lucy Copeland to the team. 

A highly sought-after coach, Ben Durham has produced some impressive results over the past few years. 

Durham took part in the TP52 Super Series for the 2022 Season, coaching the South African ‘Team Phoenix’ to 2nd place overall. In addition, Durham also coached the Swedish ‘Artemis Racing’ to 2nd place in the RC44 Cup in Oman. 

Furthermore, Durham has volunteered his time over the past 12 months to support youth match racing events like the Warren Jones International Youth Match Racing Championships. 

Congratulations to these two wonderful people and all the award winners for 2023 and to the instructors and coaches who have been doing an amazing job around the country. Thank you and keep up the great work.  

For more information on this year’s National Awards click here