SYDNEY — Sydney sailboarder Jessica Crisp has been named the Australian Female Sailor of the Year at the BEA Australian Yachting Awards dinner.

Jessica, 30, will compete in the mistral women’s sailboard class at the Sydney Olympic Games, sailing on the Sydney Harbour waters where she first learned to sail as a nine-year-old.

Now training at Long Beach, California, Crisp is regarded as a strong medal chance following her win in the mistral women’s sailboard class at 2000 Kiel Week, Europe’s largest Olympic classes regatta.

In a double for the Australia’s Olympic mistral representatives, Lars Kleppich, also from Sydney, was named Australian Male Sailor of the Year.

Jessica is the daughter of John and Carmel Crisp, her father being co-owner of the ocean racing yacht Impetuous when it was a member of the winning Australian team in the 1979 Admiral’s Cup in England.

Crisp now lives at Bondi after spending many years on the international boardsailing circuit, which included winning the Professional World Championship two years running.

‘It’s a wonderful recognition for Jessica’s determination to succeed in boardsailing; she taught herself and took herself around the world on the amateur and later professional boardsailing circuit,’ said her mother Carmel.

While a 14-year-old, she represented Australia in the Windsurfer demonstration event at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. In the 1986 and 1987 IYRU World Youth Sailing Championships she finished top placed girl in the Mistral class.

After leaving school, Crisp joined the professional boardsailing circuit, twice winning the world championship. Five years ago, however, she was forced to retire after suffering two severe breaks to a leg whilst competing in the Paris indoor boardsailing championship, where giant fans created the wind.

Crisp, who will turn 31 on September 19, the third day of competition at the Sydney Olympic Games regatta, made an outstanding recovery to achieve some excellent results over the past two years.

She finished third in the 1999 Sydney Harbour Pre-Olympic Regatta, then later in the year scored a fine win over the multiple world champion and Olympic gold medallist, Barbara Kendall of New Zealand, in the 1999 Sydney International Regatta.

Crisp finished her European preparation for the Olympic Games on a high note, winning at the famous Kiel Week Regatta from a fleet of many of her likely opponents in September, including the 1996 Atlanta gold medallist, Lai Shan Lee of Hong Kong.

Peter Campbell

Source: SOCOG