Queenslanders inducted into Australian Sailing Hall of Fame

Richard Dinnen - Queensland Editor |

Jessica Watson at sea during her circumnavigation attempt (Brett Costello)
Jessica Watson at sea during her circumnavigation attempt (Brett Costello)

Jessica Watson and Mat Belcher have received sailing’s highest accolade, being inducted into the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame.

Mat Belcher, from the Gold Coast, is recognised as one of the world’s greatest dinghy sailors, a multiple Olympian, and one of sailing’s most recognised and best regarded champions.

He’s the first Australian skipper to win two Olympic gold medals and the first Australian Olympic sailor in any class to win three Olympic medals at three consecutive Olympics.

Jessica Watson captured the world’s imagination with her solo, unassisted attempt to circumnavigate the world in 2009 when she was just 16.

She survived seven knockdowns, appalling weather, and 210 days alone at sea.

In 2011, Jessica was named Young Australian of the Year.

The honours were announced at the Australian National Maritime Museum over the weekend.

Also inducted were Victorians Tom King and Mark Turnbull, Olympic gold medallists whose performance at the 2000 Sydney Games played a major role in bringing sailing into the spotlight.

The duo won the coveted 470 class double, the Olympic gold medal and the 470 World Championship.

The Australian Sailing Hall of Fame acknowledges exceptional performance and contribution to the sport, recognising all sailing categories and positions, including coaches and designers.

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan

Australian Sailing President, Alistair Murray, said it’s important to recognise those who have helped the sport grow.

“We are proud to partner with the Australian National Maritime Museum, whose continuing support ensures our national achievements are preserved, and that those who have contributed so much to the sport are recognised now and in future.”

Australian National Maritime Museum Director, Daryl Karp, said the inductees have inspired so many people.

“Our approach to our maritime heritage explores how we as a nation are shaped by the sea.

“Australia’s long and honoured sailing history encompasses traditions and heritage of enormous resonance.

“We are thrilled to take part in recognising the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees, whose achievements have set records, inspired so many and contributed to the legacy of their field.”