OCC Awards for 2016

Awards will be presented at the OCC Annual Awards Ceremony 
1 April 2016 at Greenlands, Henley Business School, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

Download the official Press Release pdf here.

High resolution images are available upon request. 

*Denotes a non-member

The OCC Seamanship Award to Gavin Reid*, the skipper and the crew of Mission Performance during the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, for responding to the 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 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 2016 Pittwater to Coffs 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 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 manoeuvring, the swim and the mast ascent – reflect these criteria perfectly.  See the story and video on BBC News.


The OCC Award of Merit to Victor Wejer* for his outstanding service and 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 sailboat 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.


The Geoff Pack Memorial Trophy to Sue Richards* and the Noonsite Team: Val, Jeremy and Noah.  Sue Richards is Editor of the website www.noonsite.com and has led the development of this site into the cruising yachtsman's primary source of worldwide cruising information over the past two decades.


The Geoff Pack Memorial Trophy recognizes the person (member or non-member) who, by their writing in print or online, has done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in yachts or other small craft. Sue Richards is Editor of the website www.noonsite.com and has led the development of this site into the cruising yachtsman's primary source of worldwide cruising information over the past two decades. Noonsite has a wealth of up-to-date information on practically every country of interest to cruising yachtsmen and has become the yachtsman's "first call" in planning routes and passages. Through their diligence and dedication, Sue and her team enhance the safety, enjoyment and security of the global cruising community. 

Noonsite was started by Jimmy Cornell and acquired in 2007 by World Cruising Club.  Read more here


The OCC Award to Suzanne Chappell s/v Suzie Too for conceiving, promoting, organising and managing the 2016 Western Caribbean Rally. This was the most ambitious, longest and most successful OCC Rally since Commodore Michael Pocock's North Atlantic Rally in 2000. The rally lasted for over 4 months, included 26 boats and visited 8 countries. It resulted in 17 new members joining the OCC plus 2 new Port Officers and 3 assistants.



The Vasey Vase to Simon and Sally Currin s/v Shimshal for their extraordinary back-to-back voyages in one year to go skiing in Northwest Iceland then to visit the remote NE coast of Greenland, penetrating deeply into the legendary Scoresby Sound. The planning to arrive when the Sound freed of ice took extraordinary care and safely navigating into Scoresby Sound required exemplary seamanship. Simon subsequently posted meticulous notes about the anchorages in Scoresby Sound on the OCC Forum for all to benefit. www.voyagesofshimshal.blogspot.co.uk



Rose Medal to Franco Ferrero & Kath McNulty s/v Caramor, a production Rustler 36. On 6th January 2016 Franco and Kath left the Falkland Islands for South Georgia, 800 miles east-southeast across some of the world’s most unforgiving seas. They arrived on 12th January, and explored the island for five weeks before leaving on 17th February for the passage back to the Falklands, which they reached eleven days later. During these eight weeks they encountered severe weather both at sea and at anchor – see Flying Fish 2016/2 – and dealt with other problems including a back injury. They clearly had a memorable time, as reflected by their blog and its dozens of stunning photos.



Water Music Trophy to George Curtis s/v Galliard of Beaulieu for the time consuming salvage, editing, re-formatting and transfer of pilotage data from the CIC to the OCC Forum. This was a massive and labour-intensive task that was completed in Spring 2016. His work ensured that much valuable and unique information has been preserved for future generations of cruisers. 



David Wallis Trophy to Bex Band for ‘the most outstanding, valuable or enjoyable contribution to Flying Fish’. Not for the first time it has been awarded to a recently elected member, Rebecca (Bex) Band, who received OCC Youth Sponsorship Programme support to enable her to make a passage across the North Sea from Gothenburg to Portsmouth aboard the 22m Tall Ship Adventures yacht Challenger 3.



Qualifiers Mug to James Muggoch s/v Annie of Orford for his solo Atlantic passage from Lanzarote to Grenada in a 27 footer, covering 2,900 miles in 41 days. He found the early parts of the voyage very challenging, with heavy winds, gear-failure, lack of sleep leading to hallucinations, an electrical fire, and damage to the deck. Then things started to improve and he was able to complete the passage, donating the yacht to the local Sea Scouts on arrival. Among his reasons for joining the OCC was that his long-deceased father had wanted to become a member but never made a qualifying voyage*. James could and did. Read his account of the passage in Flying Fish 2016/2.”

* Associate Membership is a relatively recent innovation.



Port Officer Medal – (2)

Nina Kiff s/v Wetherley, Opua, NZ

Every year hundreds of yachts sail south from the tropics to New Zealand and most of them make Opua their first port of call.  Nina has been Port Officer in Opua for twenty years, welcoming visiting yachts and ready to provide the vital information that we all need when we arrive in a new port: finding sailmakers, mechanics, electricians and all the other trades that are just not available in the islands.


Nina has helped countless OCC members arriving in Opua with local information, transport, lending her car, arranging doctors’ appointments – and always being a friendly face in a foreign country. She remembers how wonderful it was to be met by the previous Port Officer in Opua on her arrival – friendly, smiling and helpful. As Nina says, “I just try to do the same” – and she most certainly does with tireless dedication.

In addition to visiting all yachts flying the OCC burgee, Nina organises an annual pot luck dinner evening at their home when the majority of visitors have arrived and before they head further South. Following the 50th and 60th OCC anniversary BBQ’s in the Bay of Islands and Cruises to Whangaroa, activities have snowballed into three annual events.

Nina started dinghy sailing in Wayfarers in the early 1970s, and in 1974 she sailed with Humphrey Barton and Mary for six weeks, cruising in the West Indies aboard Rose Rambler.  In 1991-1992 Nina and Tony sailed from the UK to NZ in their Nicholson 45 Wetherley with four children aged between the ages of six and twelve.


Agustin Martin s/v Caballito de Mar IX, Gran Canaria, Spain


Agustin epitomises what being a Port Officer is about – with a huge welcoming smile, he enthusiastically meets boats that arriving in Gran Canaria en route to the Caribbean or just cruising the islands. He checks what they need, gives advice to sort out whatever problems they may have, and always has a helping hand to offer. He faithfully posts up photos of his “latest catch” on his facebook pages, Flying Fish proudly on display, raising the awareness of the OCC to all other boats in the area. There are not many cruisers that have sailed these waters who have not had their photo put up on his facebook walls of fame! He entertains all visiting OCC members: his task is not to run rallies or host dinners or big events, but he makes every single OCC member feel a part of what he calls The Big Family. Agustin is a huge credit and inspiration to the worldwide network of OCC Port Officers. 


In addition, two regional awards recognised members in Australia and North America respectively:

Australian Trophy – Bill Hatfield s/v Katherine Anne


Vertue Award – Scott & Kitty Kuhner s/v Tamure


Additional information about the winners will be posted on the OCC website as it becomes available.

The following Awards were not presented this year as no suitable nominations were received:

  • The Barton Cup
  • The Jester Medal
  • The Rambler Medal
  • The Endurance Award


We sincerely thank all the members who submitted nominations. Nominations are made only by OCC members. It’s up to the members who are out actively cruising and know what other members are achieving to let the Awards Sub-Committee know. A panel of judges comprising accomplished OCC members from several continents make the final selections. Those are ratified by the General Committee before being announced.


†Previously reported as the Sydney to Hobart Race.