The exhibition in Düsseldorf in 2023 surprises not only by the fact that its doors are open again, but also by the awarding of the Ukrainian coach Pavel Dontsov with the SEAMASTER award!
SEAMASTER Award at Boot Düsseldorf 2023
After two years of cancellations, Düsseldorf is returning to its usual rhythm of work. Among the special events of the exhibition are awarding yachtsmen, sailors, engineers and athletes for their contribution to yachting and the maritime industry.
In 2020, the winner of the award was Boris Herrmann, an outstanding German athlete and finalist of the Vendée Globe regatta. This year our compatriot Pavel Dontsov became the winner. Pavel received the SEAMASTER award for his coaching achievements and the success of his young sailing team.
During the ninth SEAMASTER awards ceremony, the audience gave Pavel a standing ovation for about a minute.
Outstanding opti class coach - Pavel Dontsov
Pavel received his award not just as a curtsey due to the difficult situation in the country. Dontsov is an athlete himself and has been training young yachtsmen in the opti class for more than ten years.
A little reference: the opti class (aka Optimist, Opti) are small sailing boats that are designed for yachtsmen under 16 years old. Interestingly, the class is included in the World Sailing classes.
Pavel became widely known in narrow circles as a yachtsman a decade ago, and his pupils consistently won prizes in regattas. Alas, the war in Ukraine was a blow and a tragedy not only for those who were inside the country.
On the morning of February 24, 2022, Pavel and his pupils were in Valencia. They were preparing for the new regattas and were just getting ready for training camps. Together with Dontsov there was a Ukrainian Opti class team.
Parents of young yachtsmen asked not to temporarily return their children home because of the destructive war that had begun. Pavel could not leave the children and protected them throughout the most unstable and difficult period.
Among those who helped the team in difficult times are the parents of one of the team members, Svyatoslav Madonich. Together they helped the children.
Help for children from the yachting community
Of course, at some point, Ukrainian athletes faced a lack of money. Caring people, among whom were Gintare and Robert Scheidt, helped the team in difficult times. Robert Scheidt is a two-time Olympic champion. His children also sail on opti class yachts. The eldest son - Eric - is friends with Svyatoslav.
The family of the Olympic champion has started a fundraising campaign for Dontsov's team. Other German clubs also provided all possible assistance. Thanks to this, the team managed to hold out until the fall of 2022. Many of the guys have not yet returned home - now some of them are engaged in drawing the attention of the yachting community to the topic of war and are calling for help to Ukraine.
Another award winner, Anastasia Winkel, who is the winner of the Kiel Regatta and also an Olympic participant, says: “Paul did not return the children to Ukraine, which is suffering from war, but took full responsibility for them.
Pavel did everything possible to save them and save them from the suffering and pain that reigned in Ukraine because of the war. He wanted to give his young athletes the opportunity to continue sailing and defend the honor of their country in regattas – despite all the difficulties and uncertainties.” Winkel has known Pavel since her youth and together they took part in some regattas.
Anastasia, by the way, is also a native of Ukraine. She now lives in Germany with her husband Malte Winkel. Together they formed the 470 class team, which is preparing for the 2024 Olympics. Anastasia also helped to find housing for 70 refugees in Germany.
Hopes and future
Among the team's most famous actions is a water protest against Roman Abramovich's superyacht Solaris. In the first months of the war, a yacht tried to dock in Bodrum, but young yachtsmen in small rubber boats and with “No War” flags blocked the way. Photos from this peaceful action went around the world. We also wrote about this in one of our materials.
Then the local police detained the activists and said that the action was illegal. Despite this, law enforcement officers were sympathetic to the situation and the war. Our compatriots then got off with only a warning.
Many months later, Pavel stands on the stage of Boot Dusseldorf 2023 and thanks everyone present: “I am honored to be here today. It is very pleasant and important to receive such a response after a long and exhausting work.” The jury noted that Dontsov showed "an outstanding dedication that gives hope."
In his speech, Pavel also added: “After the start of the war, our sporting achievements are not so important. It is more important that people know what is happening now in Ukraine. Our small team is a good example for big Ukraine. The help that we receive as a team in Europe is also received by Ukraine.”
However, Dontsov also noted our defenders at the front: “Everything rests on the strength and courage of the people who are now in Ukraine, especially soldiers and volunteers. Unfortunately, many of them will not return home. As a coach for young sailors, I also want to talk about children in Ukraine. They are trying to live their lives. Alas, some we will never learn to sail. But everything will change. Of course, we believe that Ukraine will win.”
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