Gerry Hughes, a teacher from Glasgow, was presented with the first ever RYA Sailability Personal Endeavour Award on ITV’s Surprise Surprise (Sunday 01 December) in recognition of his historic voyage as the first deaf yachtsman to sail single-handedly around the world via the Five Great Capes.
Gerry Hughes in triumphant mode
The award, which was created in his honour, was presented on the show by RYA CEO, Sarah Treseder, and Paralympic Gold Medallist, Helena Lucas. Gerry also received a special message from his sailing hero Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
Gerry said: 'It was something that I was definitely not expecting. I feel tremendously proud- it’s recognition of what I have achieved. I hope it will give other deaf people the inspiration to achieve their goals'.
Born in Glasgow and a native British Sign Language user, 56-year-old Gerry set sail for his historic circumnavigation from Troon Marina, on the west coast of Scotland, on 01 September 2012. His eight-month voyage was an emotional and physical challenge encompassing storms, technical failure and capsize.
After eight months, Gerry returned home safely after successfully travelling over 32,000 miles around the globe, passing the five great capes. Gerry is the first deaf person to complete this particular solo circumnavigation and achieve recognition on Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s list of solo-circumnavigators, achieving a dream he has set his heart on 40 years ago.
'The fact I’ve done it and can look back now, I find it unbelievable what I went through. There were challenges in different areas all over the world but particularly the Southern Hemisphere. Around latitude 45/50° the waves are incredible, there’re as big as Celtic’s Parkhead Stadium! 200ft long, 30-40ft high, unbelievable waves' describes Gerry.
Helena Lucas said: 'To sail around the world is a great achievement but to do it alone is truly amazing. What he has overcome in life and on the water shows his sheer dedication and commitment.'
Sarah Treseder said: 'Gerry’s achievements are inspirational. Throughout his life he has shown huge determination and courage but to have gone on to single-handedly circumnavigate the world is truly remarkable. I am delighted to name Gerry as the very first recipient of the RYA Sailability Personal Endeavour Award which has been created in his honour.'
The Award acknowledges the achievements of inspirational sailors who have overcome adversity and will continue to be presented each year at the annual RYA Sailability conference and dinner.
For more information about Sailability visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability