Cruising Club of America (CCA) will award The 2010 Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship to Alessandro Di Benedetto for his seamanship in jury rigging a mast after being dismasted near Cape Horn on his solo, non-stop circumnavigation on the 21-foot (6.5-meter) monohull Findomestic. This award is given 'for an act of seamanship which significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea.' The award will be presented on March 4, 2011 by CCA Commodore Sheila McCurdy during the club’s annual Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
Di Benedetto was born in Rome, Italy in 1971 and began sailing at the age of eight. He quickly moved into Lasers and then sport catamarans and later a 41-foot (12.6- meter) yawl, which he sailed with his father Frederico Di Benedetto. Di Benedetto completed his studies at University of Palermo (Sicily) and holds a Doctorate in Geology and a Professional Diver Degree in Underwater Archaeology.
In 1992, he sailed with his father from Italy and arrived November 27 at the Cape Verde Islands on a 20.4-foot (6.3-meter) sport catamaran. On December 28, the two left the Cape Verde Islands and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Martinique in the French Caribbean Islands in 16 days.
Once Di Benedetto had experienced open ocean sailing it became a hunger he couldn’t satiate. In 2001, he logged 1700 miles in a single-handed, non-stop journey beginning in Italy and finishing in the Canary Islands, and in 2002, Di Benedetto became a record breaker when he sailed single-handed across the Atlantic in his sport catamaran.
Another world record was broken in 2006 when he became the first person to do a single-handed, non-stop transpacific crossing from Yokohama, Japan to San Francisco on a 19.4-foot (5.9-meter) catamaran that had no shelter or cabin.
Di Benedetto’s most recent and memorable journey was in 2009 when he departed on October 26 from Les Sables d’Olonne, France in a 21-foot (6.5-meter) sailboat that he himself had rebuilt and customized in preparation for his solo, non-stop, 24,000 mile voyage around the world. As he came to the last leg of the journey and began approaching Cape Horn (the most treacherous part of the voyage) he was dismasted, causing him to choose between getting help on land or jury rigging the mast. He decided to carry on with the jury rig. On July 22, 2010, after 268 days, 19 hours, 36 minutes and 12 seconds at sea, Di Benedetto had completed his around-the-world voyage and set the record for smallest boat to complete a solo nonstop circumnavigation in that time.
In addition to presenting its Rod Stephens Trophy, the CCA will present the following 2010 Awards:
The Blue Water Medal awarded to Alex Whitworth for his circumnavigation of the world via the Northwest Passage West to East. Whitworth has spent much of his adult life voyaging around the world, and in 2010 he completed his second circumnavigation of the globe on his Brogla 33 Berrimilla.
Far Horizons Award awarded to William E. Cook for a series of commendable voyages to the far north of the globe including cruises to Greenland and Baffin Island (Canada). Cook has been adventuring since the 1970s and his last cruise was to Greenland in 2010 on his sailboat Resolution, a 56-foot (17-meter) Bristol Sloop. At home, on the East Coast, Bill runs Cook Yacht Design which designs racing and cruising sailboats ranging from 10 - 85 feet.
The Richard S. Nye Trophy awarded to Robert A. VanBlaricom who has brought distinction to the Cruising Club of America by meritorious service, outstanding seamanship, and outstanding performance in long distance cruising. He has been a member of the Club since 1964 and has served on many committees over the years. He has been awarded the John Parkinson Memorial Trophy twice for transoceanic passages; one was in a 39-foot (11.9-meter) steel-hulled sloop named Seabear, which he built with a partner. Bob has been awarded the CCA’s Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize, and the Royal Cruising Club Trophy. He has been Rear Commodore of the San Francisco Station of the CCA. As an author, he wrote and self-published his sailing autobiography, Time and Tide. http://www.cruisingclub.org