CCA bestows coveted offshore awards—Sailing news from the U.S.

The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has awarded its esteemed 2011 Blue Water Medal to Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson
Mark van’t Woud
Anyone who has ever sailed offshore needs to read about the latest recipients of the Cruising Club of America’s (CCA) coveted Blue Water Award, which is granted to sailors who display 'the most meritous example of seamanship.' This year’s winners are no exception to the prestigious club’s strong tradition of recognizing offshore greatness. While not racing-related, anyone who’s ever taken over a night watch can recognize that reeling off 135,000 offshore miles over 24 years—as Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson managed to achieve—is seriously impressive, especially when much of it was spent in high-latitude environs. For example, the pair spent 26 months sailing in the vicinity of South Georgia Island, not to mention many miles spent transiting from one continent to the next. While winning pickle dishes might not be Matzen’ and Ericson’s ambition, their voyages are the stuff of dreams.

Also CCA-related, the club award Bob Arzbaecher and his Sociable crew the Rod Stephens Trophy for outstanding seamanship. They earned this accolade during the Chicago Yacht Club’s storm and tragedy-fraught 2011 Race to Mackinac, where they helped to save the lives of members of the Wingnuts crew after their unstable (and unsuitable-for-the-course) sportboat was turned on her ear when a freakish supercell combed the course. More inside, as well as details about other CCA awards that were granted to members of our floating fraternity.

Team Telefonica picking up speed after exiting the Strait of Malacca, during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China. (Credit: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

Purely racing related, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is slowly punching clear of the dreaded Malacca Strait, where fishing vessels and heavy metal wrecked havoc for navigators as they tried to determine the fastest way through this hazardous stretch of water. Andrew Cape, navigator aboard race leader Telefonica, makes no bones about being happy to have escaped the watery clutches of this nasty place. 'I can't put into words how relieved I am to get out of the strait,' reported Cape. 'It's a nightmare and I'm really, really relieved that nothing went wrong and even happier that we managed to start in first place and finish there. There’s serious relief all round. It’s good to be out.' Get the full VOR lowdown, inside.

While the six VO70s are pressing to get to Sanya, China, the five-strong fleet of Class 40s that are contesting the Global Ocean Race are now several days deep into the toughest leg of their race, which will take the sailors from Wellington, New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay. 'Back into life at sea—trimming sails, changing sails, getting chased by, or chasing, the competition and sleeping whenever possible,' reports Miranda Merron aboard Campagne de France.

And should you find yourself craving an offshore adventure of your own after all this talk of high-seas sailing, check out John Rousmaniere’s preview of the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race. While this storied event stays well clear of the higher latitudes, plenty of sailors (myself included) have enjoyed some serious grins racing to this magnificent island. And while it’s true that the Gulf Stream can serve up a serious walloping when the right conditions prevail, it’s also true that few rum drinks will taste finer than your first libation upon arriving in Bermuda (but of course your editor would know nothing of such tomfoolery). More, inside.

Richard Gladwell brings us more America's Cup scoops, wih the AC72's on the water and Iain 'Big Fella' Murray giving us some insight into the decision making ahead of the 2013 regatta.

LightSquared - testing around Boulder City
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And finally, be sure to check out Nancy Knudsen’s look at the latest threat to the global GPS navigation system. If you thought the aging satellite fleet and NASA’s growing dependence on Russia and other foreign powers to put 'birds' into orbit was scary, you’ve not yet heard about LightSquared. Get the full scoop, plus a video, inside this issue.

May the four winds blow you safely home,
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