OCC Australian Award Presented at Dinner in Sydney

OCC Australian Award Presented at Dinner in Sydney

John Vallentine, s/v Tainui, was recognised for a lifetime of adventure sailing with the OCC Australian Award at the Sydney Flying Squadron.

By Paul Furniss - 23/12/2018

OCC members and guests were welcomed at the Sydney Flying Squadron on 18th Dec for the 2018 South Eastern Australian quarterly gathering. The evening was a social occasion, with a dinner in a share plate format, followed by the prestigious Australian Award presentation.

Sydney Flying Squadron has a rich history. This sailing club, founded in 1891, is Australia’s oldest open boat sailing club and the birthplace of the famous Sydney Harbour sailing skiff classes. This club continues to be part of the vibrant Sydney sailing scene and is located central to harbour access across from the city, Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It is a wonderful location that the OCC has been using regularly over the last year or so as the place for its Sydney-based quarterly gatherings. This is planned to continue in the future. Please look for details in the OCC e-Bulletin, on the website and in the Newsletter.

A special welcome was made to new members and also to OCC members from further afield in NSW. Geoff Payne from Albury, over 5 hours’ drive from Sydney, and Peter Russ, an Adelaide member, attended. I thank them both for taking the time to come along.

At past dinners going back a good number of years to when Syd Yaffe was Rear Commodore, followed by John Maddox and Charles Davis, there has been a tradition where new members have been asked to say a few words regarding where they were from and their qualifying voyage. First to be introduced was Dick van Geldere from Amsterdam, second were David Reid and Robynne Rush from Sydney, and finally James and Rebecca Cleary also from Sydney.

Once the dinner was finished we moved to the SFS Boardroom for the presentations. Firstly, Paul Furniss the Regional Rear Commodore and OCC Youth Sponsorship Coordinator, explained a little about the venue and its history, before presenting OCC burgees to the new members, although James and Rebecca has already received theirs.

The evening was concluded with the Australian Award presentation. It was first awarded in 1990 and has recognised many members over the years. It was presented to the Club by Sid Jaffe, who was twice OCC Rear Commodore, Australia. The trophy, carved from a solid piece of teak by Wally Brandis, is awarded for a voyage made by an Australian member or members which starts or finishes in Australia. The recent winners of the award represent a diverse group:

- Bill Hatfield (2016) was recognised for an attempted west-about circumnavigation leaving from Southport on 29th August 2015.
- Mark Morwood & Marta Portholes (2015) who, together with their two boys Alec and Roan, sailed their Catana 48 'Por Dos' from the USA to Australia.
- Ian & Jo Johnstone, with children Gill and Keely (2013), for their “totally unplanned circumnavigation” from Brisbane to Brisbane as a family aboard 'Chaotic Harmony'. Particularly notable is the account of a 2500 nm jury rigged passage after rudder loss mid-Pacific. The gripping account appears in the 'Flying Fish'.
- Hugh Pilsworth for a key aspect of distinction which is how many others he has taken along with him - providing passage, experience and encouragement for those who would not otherwise be sailing. In 2017 alone he had crew from Australia to South Africa, different crew from South Africa to St. Lucia, and yet another crew to Panama and across the Pacific to Australia. It has been quoted that Hugh is a "patient and gracious teacher".

The 2018 Australian Award was presented to a very worthy recipient, John Vallentine. This is in recognition of his lifetime of adventure sailing, mainly aboard 'Tainui', a Formosa 46, including the Russian voyages via the Volga. John first went to sea as a cabin boy in a Norwegian coal ship after 2nd year medicine. He has never been long away from the water since. His love of the ocean and sailing has taken many forms from ocean racing to cruising remote areas. John continues a strong connection with the seas by provide services to ships engaged in the refugee situations in Europe. He has co-authored with Maxine Maters a book called 'Sailing Through Russia: From the Arctic to the Black Sea – 2016', a cruising guide and travel tale on how Australian yacht 'Tainui' sailed down the inland Russian waterways.

John delivered a thank you speech before Paul closed the evening. Members and guests mingled, finished their drinks, and headed home. Another successful quarterly gathering in Sydney.

Photo: John Vallentine and Paul Furniss with the Australian Award

Additional photos will be posted in the photo Gallery on the OCC website.

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