The OCC announces award recipients for 2016
by Daria Blackwell (as amended by John Curnow) on 10 Feb
Each year, the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) recognises the outstanding achievements of blue water sailors and brings them to the attention of the sailing community. Commodore Anne Hammick noted, ““With the continued growth in long-distance cruising, including many circumnavigations and high-latitude passages, it is increasingly rare for a single voyage to stand out. Our members do not cruise in order to win awards – they do so for the love of sailing, adventure and the sea. Even so, the OCC is delighted to recognise outstanding achievement among our members and the wider sailing community.”
Wejer clamped in ice © Ocean Cruising Club
Jenny Crickmore-Thompson, Chairman of the OCC Awards Sub-Committee, made the announcement. “It is my distinct pleasure to announce the winners of the OCC Awards for the year 2016. This year the winners include a crew who exhibited a remarkable act of seamanship and bravery as well as those who support blue water cruisers in their endeavours.”
The OCC Seamanship Award is presented to Gavin Reid*, the skipper and the crew of Mission Performance during the 2015-2016 Clipper Round the World Race, for responding to a distress call, standing by under difficult conditions, and swimming to M3, climbing the mast and freeing a crew member who had been trapped at the top for nine hours.
On January 5, 2016, Gavin Reid from Cambridge, UK, was crewing aboard Mission Performance on the sixth leg (Hobart to Airlie Beach - AUS) of the 2015-2016 Clipper Round the World Race, when a distress call was picked up from M3, an IRC optimised TP52 returning from the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race. M3 had a rope around its propeller, a damaged mainsail, and a man stuck up the mast, and entangled in halyards. M3’s skipper requested assistance to release him.
Mission Performance was the nearest yacht to the stricken vessel. Greg Miller*, Mission Performance skipper, responded to the call and closed on M3, which was about 15nm due South of Seal Rocks, but sea conditions made it too dangerous to go alongside without endangering both boats. Miller stood off 150m away and upwind.
At daybreak, Gavin Reid, who is profoundly deaf and had almost no sailing experience prior to signing up for the Clipper Race, volunteered to swim over to the other yacht. The crew threw a line to M3 which Gavin used to reach the stricken yacht. He found four crew largely incapacitated, and unable to help the fifth man. Using the one remaining staysail halyard, Gavin was able to hoist himself two-thirds of the way up the 65ft (20m) mast, then climb the rest of the way hand-over-hand on the swaying mast to reach the crewman. He spent two hours untangling the lines to free the man and help lower him down safely. M3 was subsequently abandoned, and beached just North of Hawks Nest.
The Seamanship Award is made “to recognise outstanding feats of personal bravery at sea or exceptional acts of seamanship” and Gavin’s and his mates’ actions – the manoeuvring, the swim and the mast ascent – reflect these criteria perfectly. See the story and video on BBC
The OCC Award of Merit goes to Victor Wejer* for his unselfish and outstanding service,his extensive advice to international Arctic sailors, and his remote support of yachts sailing the Northwest Passage. The OCC Award of Merit is open to members or non-members who have performed some outstanding voyage or achievement.
Canadian Victor Wejer has been instrumental in the success and safety of many transits of the Northwest Passage. Victor has provided free weather, ice and routing advice to many yachts (42 from 2006-2016), including the first to transit by way of Fury and Hecla Strait (2016). He has provided critical information and expertise without any recompense to those who have approached him for advice, as well as cautioning the dreamers and the unwary concerning a dangerous undertaking. He takes an interest in voyagers in the NW Passage. To many, he is a friend as well as an advisor, taking into account crew and vessel strength.
An example of Victor's invaluable advice is quoted from an early communication to an OCC member: 'I have gotten many calls from different adventurers wanting to make the NW crossing. For most I strongly advise them to stay away. One has to have the correct mindset. This is not an adventure, it's a dangerous trip for the unprepared. A perfect crossing will have no story to tell at the end. No problems. No issues. No disasters. All ice openings are taken advantage of. As one Arctic explorer used to say 'adventure is a sign of incompetence.'
Over the years Victor has collected information concerning methods, shelters, anchorages, ice conditions and equipment from voyagers who have succeeded as well as those who have failed in their attempts to sail this unique and often unpredictable passage. Victor has collated various accounts to create a truly valuable body of work which he updates and regularly shares. His Yacht Routing Guide can be downloaded from the RCCPF website
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