HRH The Princess Royal presented paralympian Hannah Stodel with the RYA Yachtmaster of the Year Award at the 2018 London Boat Show

Hannah Stodel has been awarded the RYA Yachtmaster of the Year 2017 for her outstanding sailing skills and empathy for others when passing her RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence examination.

Four time Paralympian Hannah, 32, from Colchester, was presented with the award on Wednesday (10 January) by HRH The Princess Royal at the 64th London Boat Show at ExCeL, London.

She undertook her training for the Yachtmaster Offshore for Sail exam with Girls For Sail at Shepards Wharf in Cowes. Hannah’s examiner, Philippe Falle, described her as “a natural”, adding that she was “the best Yachtmaster candidate I’ve ever had; and an absolute inspiration.”

Stodel learnt to sail from her parents and at 13 she sailed with Dame Ellen MacArthur.

Hannah was born missing her right forearm. She said that she learned to sail as a way of coping with the bullying around her disability and sailing gave her a sense of freedom and a ‘can do’ attitude.

Hannah won a sports scholarship to the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich. She went on to represent Great Britain at Youth and Junior levels in World and European Championships in the Mirror and 29er Classes for the able-bodied.

In 2002 Hannah began sailing a Sonar and went on to compete in multiple World Championships and four Paralympic Games.

Her current goal is to become the first disabled athlete to race in the 2020 Vendée Globe.

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Speaking after the presentation on the RYA stand at the London Boat Show, Hannah said: “I’m still a bit shocked that I won the award. It’s just incredible – and I burst into tears at the train station when I took the call to say that I had won. It’s amazing and a true honour.”

Richard Falk, RYA Director of Training and Qualifications, said: “It is evident from the examiner’s report that Hannah has immensely refined sailing and communication skills and is an extremely worthy recipient of this prestigious award.

“To be the best candidate of the year amongst more than 3,500 people who undertake the certificate of competence exam each year is an outstanding achievement – and one that Hannah should rightly feel proud of.”