Last week the Cruising Club of America (CCA) awarded its much sought-after 2011 Blue Water Medal to German cruising sailors Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson for a commendable 24 years and 135,000 miles of sailing the oceans of the world with a focus in the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean.
The first Blue Water Medal was awarded in 1923; and is given to 'the most meritous example of seamanship.' Its recipient is selected from among amateurs of all the nations.' The medal will be presented by Commodore Daniel P. Dyer, III at the annual Awards Dinner on March 2, 2012 at New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
Matzen was born in Germany in 1956 and grew up to be a wooden boat builder. In 1981, Matzen purchased Wanderer III, a 30-foot wooden sloop, built in 1952 for Eric and Susan Hiscock who made two circumnavigations with it and received the Blue Water Medal in 1955.
Wander III - she has completed no less than five circumnavigations - .. .
Matzen sailed Wanderer III to Scandinavia where he cruised extensively, including to the Lofoten Islands (Norway), and then crossed the Atlantic Ocean. In 1989, while sailing in the Caribbean, he met Swedish-born (1964) Ericson, and the two have lived on Wanderer III ever since.
After leaving the Caribbean, the duo sailed through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean where they spent seven years traveling from site to site. After that, Ericson and Matzen sailed to Indonesia, explored the Indian Ocean, and sailed around the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa).
From 1997 to 1999, Matzen and Ericson did two circuits of the South Atlantic, starting in Cape Town (South Africa) and visiting Argentina, The Falkland Islands, and South Georgia before heading back to Cape Town (South Africa) and South America, where they rounded Cape Horn before returning to the Pacific.
The couple’s last twelve years have been comprised of exploring sites in the Southern Ocean, including Tasmania, The Auckland Islands, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. Recently the two spent 26 months in South Georgia.
Currently, Matzen and Ericson are in Brazil and plan to do some work on Wanderer III, which has been kept in its original condition with no electronics onboard except a VHF radio and handheld GPS (added in 2007).
The vessel has a 16 horsepower diesel engine and the hull, rigging and gear have been self-maintained using traditional methods. About the Cruising Club of America:
The Cruising Club of America was launched in the winter of 1921-1922 by a handful of experienced offshore sailors interested in cruising and the development of the cruising type of yacht.
The Club's more than 1,200 members personify the interests, achievement, experience, and love and respect for the sea of the Club's founders. Now in its 85th year, the CCA continues to use the collective wisdom and experience of its members to influence the 'adventurous use of the sea' through efforts to elevate good seamanship, the design of seaworthy yachts, safe yachting procedures and environmental awareness.
The Cruising Club of America has no clubhouse or shoreside base, and no paid staff. Rather, the Club is structured around national committees that conduct mission-related work and manage the administrative operations of the organization, and around geographical Stations that provide regional focus for the membership.
Primary mission-focused committees include Safety at Sea, Offshore Communications, Technical, Environment, Cruising Guides and Charts, Bermuda Race, and Awards. The Club is managed by a Governing Board of Officers and elected members, and operated by standing committees including Finance, Audit, Nominating, and Membership, to name but a few.
There are eleven Stations within the Club, each of which has its own Rear Commodore and officers, and which organize annual activities.