Ocean Cruising Club

Back to list of all prizewinners

Gavin Reid, the skipper and the crew of Mission Performance

For responding to a distress call during the 2015-2016 Clipper Round the World Race, 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 9 hours.

In January 2016, Gavin Reid from Cambridge, UK, was crewing aboard Mission Performance on the sixth (Hobart to the Whitsundays) leg of the 2015-2016 Clipper Round the World Race, when a distress call was picked up from M3, a yacht returning from the Sydney Hobart 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 but sea conditions made it too dangerous to go alongside without endangering both boats. Miller stood off 150m away 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.

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 maneuvering, the swim and the mast ascent – reflect these criteria perfectly.

Gavin Reid, the skipper and the crew of Mission Performance