British sailor Simon Fisher wins 2023 Magnus Olsson Prize

Simon Fisher (SiFi) has been named the 10th recipient of the Magnus ‘Mange’ Olsson Prize, awarded annually to an individual who has made an impactful contribution to the sport of sailing.

Fisher has competed in The Ocean Race six consecutive times, beginning in 2005-06, and has won the race twice, including the last edition with 11th Hour Racing Team. He is the only navigator in race history to earn this achievement.

During his 20-year career in the Race, he’s seen the race evolve from the Volvo Open 70 class, through the one-design VO65s (where he won the race in 2014-15 with skipper Ian Walker on board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing), and now again to the flying, foiling IMOCAs.

“My greatest accomplishment was probably winning the 2014-15 Ocean Race, as it was both the realisation of a childhood dream and the result of many years of hard work and experience,” says Fisher. “I’m also proud of the fact that I have managed to dip my toe into many different areas that our sport has to offer, and I always enjoy new experiences and challenges.”

For over 10 years, Fisher has been a director of Diverse Performance Systems, which provides onboard systems for racing and performance cruising boats as well as superyachts where his vast experience as navigator has benefitted many projects.

Traditionally, the role of navigator is among the most important on a boat competing in The Ocean Race, and their decisions on race strategy, alongside the skipper, are critical to the success of a campaign. But the work starts long before the race begins in terms of analysing historic weather patterns and working up an accurate performance profile of the competing race yacht to feed into the navigation routing software.

During this latest edition of The Ocean Race (which organisers said had more female sailors than in any of the previous events in the race’s 50-year history), Fisher embraced the leadership role his team was taking on sustainability via 11th Hour Racing, with a keen interest in the onboard science data programme, which feeds real-time data from the boat back to researchers on shore. One of the many uses of this data is to improve weather forecasting, which as a navigator is one of the core inputs needed to provide fast and efficient routing.

“It’s such an honour to be recognised by the Magnus Olsson Memorial Foundation for this award,” Fisher says. “I had the opportunity to cross paths with Mange a few times early in my career at The Ocean Race and he never failed to make an impact with his positivity, enthusiasm and pure joy at the prospect of going to sea and racing around the world. His attitude was infectious.”

The Magnus Olsson Prize is awarded annually to an individual who has made an impactful contribution to the sport of sailing – and previous recipients include The Ocean Race winners Torben Grael, Grant Dalton, Carolijn Brouwer and Stan Honey along with Olympic sailing legends like Sir Ben Ainslie, Peter Burling, Martine Grael and Santiago Lange.

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