OCC Awards for 2015

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

High resolution images are available upon request. 

*Denotes a non-member


The Barton Cup - Michael Johnson 


The recipient of the OCC’s premiere award for members, the Barton Cup, for 2015 is Michael Johnson, s/v Gitana, for his successful two-year transit of the Northwest Passage. Sailing from Chesapeake Bay, VA to Nome, AK, this passage took place in a period that was particularly challenging due to ice conditions when many vessels attempting the Passage turned back. Michael is a prior recipient of the Barton Cup (1990) for his engineless E-W rounding of Cape Horn in 85 days.


Michael Joseph Johnson was born in 1944 in Virginia. He served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and trained in Arctic warfare. Afterwards he earned a doctorate from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has sailed much of his adult life in a wide variety of craft including oyster skipjacks, STA schooners, square rigged barquentines, E. African dhows and Javanese phinisis as well as small yachts (cutters, sloops, yawls and schooners). In addition he has paddled a dugout solo down the May and Sepik Rivers of New Guinea. On these craft he has served as captain, navigator, crew, expedition leader, boatswain and commercial fisherman. He is partial to schooners and has sailed his schooner Gitana for 16 years. Johnson has voyaged to the Arctic, Antarctic and all remaining continents. He has circumnavigated E-W below the five great southern capes and was awarded the OCC's Barton Cup in 1990 for his engineless E-W rounding of Cape Horn in 85 days. In 2013-14 he completed a transit of the NWP from Chesapeake Bay, Virginia to Nome, Alaska.



The OCC Award of Merit - shared by the crew of 6 vessels and the OCC Port Officer Representatives in Vanuatu

The OCC Award of Merit, an award that may recognise either members or non-members, is shared among multiple members and the OCC Port Officer Representative who contributed exceptional efforts to assist the people of Vanuatu after the devastation caused by cyclone Pam. The recipients are:

  • Martin & Elizabeth Bevan on Caduceus
  • Brian Wallace & Sue Dracott on Darramy
  • Tom Partridge & Susie Plume on Adina
  • Jonathan & Donna Robinson on Chez Nous
  • Dennis & Sherry Day on Trillium
  • Graham & Avril Johnson on Dream Away
  • Sam & Jess Bell, OCC Port Officer Representatives in Vanuatu

Click here to view an expanded story about the relief efforts implemented by these crews. 


Sea Mercy slide

View a slide show on the efforts coordinated by Sea Mercy submitted by Jonathan and Donna Robinson. (pdf download)

An account of the relief efforts in Vanuatu by these yachts and crews has been submitted by the crew of Darramy


The OCC Award - Tom & Vicky Jackson

The OCC Award goes to Tom & Vicky Jackson s/v Sunstone for their many cruising and racing achievements, amounting to 34 years and almost 200,000 NM, aboard their 40’ Sparkman & Stephens designed, almost 50-year old sloop. They were recognized in 2007 with the OCC Barton Cup for their 80,000 mile circumnavigation, which included rounding of the five great capes. They have also just been named as recipients of the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal. 


Tom and Vicky Jackson both learned to sail as children. They became engaged during a cruise from Spain to England in Vicky’s parents’ boat. They were married in 1972.

In 1978, they began living afloat aboard a 31’ Rustler and then from 1981, aboard Sunstone, their 1965, varnished, S&S 39’ sloop. They lived afloat continuously until 2013.

Despite being a ‘house-boat’, Sunstone proved competitive racing offshore. She won the 1985 Channel Race overall and her class in four of the eight Fastnet Races, completed with Tom and Vicky. She was twice member of the English team in the RORC Commodores’ Cup, the team winning in 1996.

In 1997 Tom took early retirement as Principal of Portsmouth College and Vicky as Assistant Dean of Faculty at Southampton Solent University. Two weeks later they sailed away to begin world cruising. They have crossed the Atlantic twice and the Pacific Ocean six times, five of those between New Zealand and Alaska. Their six-year circumnavigation was eastward, taking in the five great southern capes, but also reaching 61’N and 57’S. They have continued to race, competing in the Bermuda Race and winning their divisions in the Sydney-Hobart Race and Swiftsure. Since moving to New Zealand in 2007 they won the Two-Handed Round North Island Race and completed the Two-Handed Round New Zealand Race.

When not cruising, they now live in Nelson, in the South Island of New Zealand. They have been regular contributors of articles and photographs to yachting magazines.



The Vasey Vase - John Valentine


The Vasey Vase goes to Australian doctor John Vallentine, s/v Tainui, for a series of interesting and challenging voyages over a ten year period during which he devoted half of each year providing medical services to remote Aboriginal outstations in the western Australian deserts and the other half sailing mostly to cold climates and rugged isolated locations.  In 2013, Tainui became the second foreign yacht to voyage from the White Sea through Russia and Ukraine to the Black Sea; John and his present crew, Maxine, have written a guide book to these waters being published in 2016.



About the skipper...

The OCC Seamanship Award - Bob and Mona Jankowski


Bob and Mona Jankowski aboard Continuum (left) and Randy and Dawn Ortiz safely aboard after the rescue (right).

Bob and Mona Jankowski sailing aboard Continuum in the Pacific responded to a distress call issued by Nirvana
Now with Randy and Dawn Ortiz aboard. Their vessel was disabled and taking on water in rough
conditions about as far from land as can be. They had contacted a HAM radio operator W3ZU Fred and
the Seafarer’s Net who coordinated with USCG RCC Alameda1. The megayacht Athos of London also
diverted to their reported position but Continuum would arrive first. Continuum motor sailed more than
40 hours into strong winds and seas, standing two hour watches to enable radio contact with the
stricken vessel every two hours. The situation was critical when Continuum arrived on scene, but a safe
transfer was achieved via dinghy thanks to the seamanship of the crew. S/Y Athos of London
rendezvoused with Continuum and transferred extra food but the passengers elected not to attempt a
second transfer in the rough seas.

This rescue symbolizes an ideal operation in which the vessel in distress does the right things to stay
afloat and communicate their plight, long range radio operators are pivotal in relaying communications,
the CG deploys resources, a seafarers net maintains contact, and private vessels divert to assist. It
underscores the value of SSB capability at sea. All involved deserve to be recognized but it was the
seamanship demonstrated by the crew of Continuum that enabled the successful outcome.




Geoff Pack Memorial Trophy – Behan Gifford s/v Totem 


The Geoff Pack Memorial Trophy which recognizes the person (member or non-member) who, by their writing, has done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in yachts or other small craft, goes to Behan Gifford for her part in creating the first major resource for parents who sail with children, in the form of a book co-authored and published in 2015 and an excellent blog providing continuing insights. 



Behan has sailed more than 35,000 miles with her husband, Jamie, and their three children. When they set off from the Pacific Northwest in 2008 aboard their Stevens 47, Totem, Niall was 9, Mairen was 6, and Siobhan was 4. Since then they’ve visited 22 countries, from Mexico to Madagascar. Before cruising, the Giffords lived in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where Behan built a career in management consulting, software marketing, and digital advertising. She holds master’s degrees in international studies and business administration. Behan maintains a blog forSAIL magazine and chronicles her family’s adventures at www.sailingtotem.com.


Jester Medal – Rory McDougall s/v Cooking Fat

The Jester Medal, awarded to a member or non-member who has achieved a noteworthy single-handed voyage in a vessel of 30ft or less overall, goes to Rory McDougall. Rory built his own boat at a young age and made a solo circumnavigation in it. Rory’s boat, a Wharram Tiki 21 design, is a very small catamaran designed for coastal trekking with minimal accommodation. 

Rory McDougall holds the record as the person who has sailed the smallest catamaran (21ft LOA) round the world. He accomplished this voyage between 1991 and 1997 with a lengthy break in New Zealand. He sailed long stretches single-handed and some of it with one crew. He did a remarkable voyage, encountering very severe weather on a number of occasions. He has been an excellent contributor to the Jester Challenge, and despite the small size and slightness of his boat, only missed out on being first to Newport by a few hours in 2010.

 Rory McDougall  


For Rory, following your dreams is a mantra he lives by. At 19 Rory's dream was to circumnavigate with the smallest multihull. He built Cookie, a Wharram Tiki 21 catamaran near Totnes, Devon in 1991. Six years of incredible adventures later, Rory had sailed round the globe and voyaged far within himself. Cookie became the smallest catamaran to circle the world. 13 years on with adventures of marriage and family life being enjoyed, it was also time to test the Rory & Cookie partnership again! Rory entered the Jester Challenge 2010 from Plymouth to Newport, following the footsteps of the OSTAR. 34 days of upwind struggle, Cookie was pipped to the post by just 2 hours. It is believed Cookie is the smallest catamaran to sail the upwind route across the North Atlantic. Cookie now rests on a River Exe mooring, patiently awaiting the nest adventure with Rory....... For more details see www.roryandcookie.com or www.roryandcookie.blogspot.co.uk

For lots of pictures and videos visit this page


Water Music Trophy – Mike Reynolds s/v Zen Again

Mike Reynolds is the recipient of this year's Water Music Trophy, awarded for his creation of a repository of KAP charts with detailed instructions on their use as aids to navigation. His large database combines his own downloads with images shared by other cruisers which are now available on his site. Mike has also written very good explanatory articles covering how to work with these on both PC and iPad. His website contains very clear information that assists fellow cruisers with these new tools. He has also promulgated the use of SEAiq software, little known in the cruising world, but a capable package for iPad that allows KAP files to be used in real time with live NMEA data shared by Wi-Fi on board.


Mike learned to sail as a teenager, initially in the UK and later in Australia.  Mike and his wife Nicki cruised around Australia from 2002 to 2005.  From 2010 to 2015 they sailed their current boat Zen Again from Australia to Thailand and back.  In 2015 they departed Australia from Fremantle Sailing Club towards the UK and are currently on passage across the South Atlantic. 

Mike is a consultant electronics engineer with a keen interest in navigation and communication systems for blue-water cruising.  Mike and Nicki's blog at http://yachtzenagain.blogspot.com contains technical articles as well as their cruising log.


Rambler Medal – Peter McCrea & Doug Theobolds s/v Panacea

The Rambler Medal goes to Peter McCrea and Doug Theobolds for their challenging return of Panacea to the US after the first leg of the Bermuda 1-2 Race, which included a knockdown, chaos and smoke, no engine, 12V jury rig power, a storm in the Gulf Stream, and the following message:

“Arrival-underway-Stream sucks-go West-wind is up-3am knockdown!-chaos & smoke-assess-regroup-jury rig 12V power-Stream crossing-Smiles”

"..this cryptic passage summary was transmitted from Panacea to family using a handheld DeLorme inReach communicator, which utilizes the Iridium Satellite constellation to transmit email messages and current location. The 160-character limitation of this remote messaging system made it a challenge to convey the complex sets of circumstances the crew of Panacea experienced in the six-day passage–every key stroke counting."


An obsession with the ocean and boats began in Peter’s childhood, starting in Beetle cats and Herreshoff 12 1/2's, leading to a succession of 19', 23', and 29' cruiser/racers. His forever vessel is Panacea, a 1984 cat-sloop Freedom 32, in which, to date, he has logged over 70,000 sea miles.

His first blue water passage was to Bermuda in 1978 on a 32-foot sloop, followed by a dozen Bermuda 1-2 race events in Panacea, participation in the inaugural Caribbean 1500, and a 13,000 mile Atlantic Circle, the latter passages doublehanded with mate, Peggy.  He embraces the solitude and quiet of a well-planned and executed yet uneventful voyage.

The potentially disastrous series of events experienced on the return delivery of Panacea from Bermuda in 2015 were challenging beyond all his prior experience.


Rose Medal – Chris Cromey & Suzanne Hills s/v Whanake

The Rose Medal is awarded to Chris Cromey and Suzanne Hills for their a 1200 mile beat to windward in particularly unpleasant conditions to reach the Northern end of the Chilean Channels. Not wanting to motor through the Channels and determined to sail as much as was possible, they endured seven months of cold, wet and uncomfortable sailing to achieve their goal. This is sailing in the true essence of the OCC.


Our sailing and OCC journey started almost 10 years ago on making contact with David Blackburn to arrange to view Whanake who was up for sale. David was very interested in us as potential new owners as we planned to sail to New Zealand and return Whanake to her homelands. We remember distinctly part of the phone conversation, and we quote "...and if we like the look of you, we'll nominate you for OCC membership" That was our introduction to the wonderful world of the OCC!

That journey to NZ from Europe took us via the Chilean Channels, and we feel very fortunate that in the 21st century there remain wild and undeveloped sailing regions. What we particularly enjoyed about the Channels is that they are, more or less, as they have always been to sailors past. And it was partly that we were following generations later in the wake of the sailing greats of Slocum and Fitzroy, and partly that we heard once too often that we would have to motor north up the Channels, that we were determined, probably to the point of obstinacy, to sail them. Beating up the Channels gave our trip an added elemental rawness, and it was satisfying to reach the top of them with our diesel tanks still largely full.

While in the Channels we also picked up the ultimate souvenir in the form of a Patagonian stray kitten that is now Whanake's indispensable Ship's Cat. So along with taking on a new crew member, it was a privilege to transit the Channels, and to also receive the Rose Medal for it makes it extra special for us.


Qualifiers Mug – Debi Dennis & Jack Markin s/v Iroquois 

Debi Dennis and Jack Markin were awarded the Qualifier's Cup for their interesting Transatlantic voyage undertaken in 2015 from Nova Scotia to Scotland, showing their planning and forethought as well as perseverance in overcoming obstacles, most notably the weather. 


Debi Dennis and Jack Markin live on a farm in Wisconsin. They both sailed on and off when young but there were more years off the water than on. Over the last thirty plus years they have had three career chunks including real estate developer, systems analyst, sheep farmers and the last seventeen as high school teachers. Both stopped teaching in 2015.

Debi and Jack have been married for 35 years. They have three children who share their interest in sailing to various degrees ranging from wishing they could join their parents to wanting nothing at all to do with sailboats.

Over the years they have owned three boats, a 19-foot Lightning, a 13-foot Force 5 and Iroquois, a 1969 Ohlson 38 built in England and finished in Sweden that they bought in 2010. After purchasing Iroquois, summers were spent sailing in the Great Lakes and winter weekends refitting the boat for their OCC qualifying passage from Nova Scotia to Scotland in 2015. They write about their experiences at sailblogs.com/member/debiandjack


Port Officer Medal – (2) Oliver SoLanas Heinrichs (Fuerteventura), Donal McClement (Crosshaven)

Oliver SoLanas Heinrichs is one of the most enthusiastic Port Officer Representatives in the OCC. He is constantly on call for the OCC and all cruisers, and through his venture www.8islas.com, markets and promotes all 8 of the Canary Islands. 


I was born in Barcelona, with double nationality, and have been in touch with the ocean since little. With a long family sailing tradition, my dad lives on a boat for over 30 years, and my uncle did a 6 year circumnavigation, I have sailed mostly solo handed, around the Canary Islands and Madeira.

I am Vice President  of Anavre (Spanish Cruising Association), and host for several international Associations on the island of Fuerteventura. I have  been involved with sailors and institutions for several years, and have a deep knowledge in the sector and its needs. I periodically assist conferences and Boat Shows, and  work as safety officer and Spanish press contact for the prestigious ARC ( Atlantic Rally for Cruisiers) of World Cruising Club for the last years.

 “For me , it is very important, that sailors belong to an association, helping the sailors' community, and not to mention how useful it is to arrive to an unknown island or city and have already a contact there, a friend. I always say, “the unión makes the force”, and as more members an association has, the more strength/power it has to deal with Government/ institutions and authorities. “

I am currently editing The Best of Cruising Canary Islands”, together with editor Mike Westin, a guide done by sailors for sailors, with all new photos and maps. It will be not only a cruising guide, it will also help sailors to find the best places to visit, eat out, etc etc etc.


Donal McClement has been the Port Officer for Crosshaven, Ireland for more than 20 years. He is an extremely experienced sailor having crossed the Atlantic over a dozen times. He also skippered the winning yacht in it's class in the ill fated 1979 Fastnet Race.  As the manager of the Crosshaven Boatyard and Brokerage, he shared his experience and knowledge with visiting yachtsmen and locals alike. He has just retired and OCC offers thanks for his many years of service. 


I have been sailing for almost 70 years starting in Cadets and embracing everything from 505s to Offshore Racers and a great number of Cruising boats. As well as representing Ireland, the UK and Switzerland at International Regattas I skippered the RAF Sailing Association's UFO 34 BLACK ARROW to win Class IV in the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race. I have skippered boats for a total of 6 Transatlantics and have taken part in an ARC and also 50% of a World ARC. When I retired from the RAF (I was a Navigator), I returned to live in Cork and set up a Yacht Brokerage business in Crosshaven which is still going strong although I am pretty much hands off by now. I was heavily involved in setting up and developing Cork Week between 1986 and 2004 and by this time I also got involved in Classic Boat Racing in the Med.

Recent years have seen me cruising extensively in Spain, the Azores, The English Channel, Brittany (North & South) and a circumnavigation of Ireland and this coming season I hope to go Southwards again.

Donal talking about the 1979 Fastnet Race.


David Wallis Trophy – Bill McLaren s/v Vagrant of Clyde

Former Commodore Bill McLaren is recognised for his contribution of a well researched and written update to the history of the Club in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the OCC. 








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

Australian Trophy - Mark Morwood & Marta Portoles 

Click here to view slide show on YouTube.


I was born in Brisbane, Australia and grew up in the area. I was a keen climber, mountaineer, and wind surfer, and studied Computer Science at Queensland University. After a brief diversion into teaching when I worked as an instructor for Outward Bound Australia for a couple of years I returned to software. I moved to Boston in the US in 1990, where I met Marta my wife, and worked as a software developer, manager and executive in a series of Healthcare Software companies. Marta was born in Barcelona, and lived there till she moved to Boston in 1991 to complete her PhD in Micro Biology. Marta has continued to work as a scientist or scientist manager. since completing her doctorate in 1992. In 1996, Marta and I went cruising for the first time, taking our Vancouver 36 “Por Nada” on a two year cruise across the Atlantic, around the Med, and back to Boston. On our return we sold the boat, settled back into land life, bought a house, had our twin boys Alec and Roan, and settled back into work. However, always in the back of our mind was the desire to go cruising again with our children. We were in a position to do so in 2012, after we had spent 6 years preparing our Catana 48 "Por Dos". Alec and Roan were 12 when we left Boston on our 3.5 cruise down the US East Coast to the Bahamas, across the Atlantic to the Med, 18 months in the Med including a winter in Sicily, back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, a refit/repaint of the boat in Trinidad and then on through the canal and across the S Pacific to Brisbane Australia where we have sold the boat and settled while Alec and Roan do their last 3 years of high school.

Our blog which we I’m afraid we haven’t yet updated with the last 6 months of our trip is. It does have the 3 years pretty well covered though.


Por Dos on https://www.youtube.com/


Vertue Award – Sid & Rebecca Shaw

Click here to view NA press release.


View full details for 2014 Award recipients here