Sailors from the Northeast, including Rich Wilson of Boston, MA, Scott and Kitty Kuhner of Rowayton, CT and Robert E. Drew of Guilford, CT, are among the Cruising Club of America’s (CCA) 2017 award recipients. The awards, recognizing outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing and the history of yachting, were presented at the organization’s annual Awards Dinner in New York, NY on March 2, 2018.
The CCA’s Special Recognition Award, created in 2006, honors the highly meritorious and extraordinary nautical accomplishments of Rich Wilson in two Vendée Globe Races. The solo, non-stop race around the world is the toughest sailboat race of all, and Wilson is the only American to have finished two of them. He finished ninth (among 30 starters and 11 finishers) in 2008/09 and 13th (among 29 starters and 18 finishers) in 2016/17, becoming the oldest person ever to complete the race.
“The Vendee Globe is the greatest sailing race in the world,” said Wilson, a longtime CCA member who took 121 and 107 days, respectively, to finish the two races. “For the French, it is a human adventure first, a race second. They have their favorite sailors for sure, but they don’t really care where you finish, just that you sail your best, tell them the story from sea while they are at home on land, and that you come home.”
In 1990, Wilson created sitesALIVE.com to use ocean sailing, as well as other real-world, real-time adventures, expeditions and field research stations, as an exciting and engaging educational tool for teaching children about science, geography, math, and history.
Scott & Kitty Kuhner (Rowayton, CT) received the Far Horizons Award, recognizing “a particularly meritorious cruise or series of cruises that exemplify the objectives of the Club.” Robert E. Drew (Guilford, CT) received Richard S. Nye Award, recognizing meritorious service to CCA.
Webb Chiles (Hilton Head, SC) received the prestigious Blue Water Medal for his “meritorious example of seamanship” over five decades. In that time he has circumnavigated the world five times, and he has sailed 24,000 miles counting toward a sixth. “A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind,” said Chiles.
Given for the first time in 2017, CCA’s Young Voyager Award, recognizing “a young sailor who has made one or more exceptional voyages,” was presented to Jessica Watson (Queensland, AUS). Watson, now 25, completed a southern hemisphere non-stop around the world voyage – solo and unassisted – at age 16. Named Young Australian of the Year 2011, she led the youngest ever crew to participate in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race, finishing second in her division. “If you truly want to live life, you have to get involved, pursue your passions and dream big,” she said.
Les Crane (Bermuda) won the Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship, which recognizes “an act of seamanship that significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht or one or more individuals at sea.” Joyce & Tad Lhamon (Bainbridge, WA) received the Royal Cruising Club Trophy, recognizing “a cruise of singular merit and moderate duration.” A co-organizer of the biennial Newport Bermuda Race, the CCA is an invitation-only organization whose approximately 1,300 members are qualified by their experience in offshore passagemaking. For more information, visit cruisingclub.org.
Barby MacGowan at Media Pro International contributed to this report.