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US Sailing awards Hanson Rescue Medals to boats in Hawaii and Michigan

by John Rousmaniere/US Sailing News on 14 Jan 2010
The Hanson Rescue Medal US Sailing
The US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Committee has awarded Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medals to four boats for the seamanship displayed by their crews during rescues in separate incidents on Lake Huron in Michigan and on Hawaii’s Kaneohe Bay.

Three Hanson Rescue Medals have been awarded for the rescue of a sailor on Kaneohe Bay on January 25, 2009. During a race in 15-25 knot winds, skipper Joe Cochran of the Cal 20 keelboat Ol’ Blue fell overboard. Cochran was in the early stages of ALS and not wearing a life jacket. Crew members on board Ol’ Blue promptly took action. Robert McDonald took the helm and turned back toward Cochran. Meanwhile, Jim Silcox jumped in and kept Cochran’s head above water.

Two other Cal 20s and an International 14 dinghy dropped out of their races to assist with the rescue. The International 14 capsized in the process (crew was unharmed); however, skipper Shelley James had previously alerted a Kaneohe Bay Yacht Club powerboat. Two sailors boarded the powerboat from the Cal 20s and helped pull Cochran and Silcox on board. Silcox and Fuzz Foster attended to Cochran until the boat reached shore. Honolulu Fire Department medics administered oxygen and took Cochran to a local hospital, where he remained for three days.

One Hanson medal is awarded to Ol’ Blue and her crew, Silcox and McDonald. Another is awarded to the powerboat and her crew, Ken Schmidt and Georgia Schmidt, and the two sailors who joined them from the Cal 20s, Foster and Robin Durnin. The third Hanson Medal is awarded to James of the International 14.

Time Machine (Robert Gordenker, owner-skipper, Ann Arbor, Mich.) received the award for rescuing two people on Lake Huron on August 1, 2009. Time Machine, a J/35 sloop, was returning to the North Cape Yacht Club after finishing the Port Huron-Mackinac Race in a 25-knot headwind and rough seas. Approximately five miles offshore, Gordenker spotted a paddle waving above the water. Clinging to a capsized small sailboat were two people in life jackets. Gordenker and his crew, Dee Adkins and Dennis Maurer, hauled both of them on deck by hand. Gordenker has posted a detailed account and analysis of the rescue at

The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils at sea within the territorial waters of the United States, or as part of a sailboat race or voyage that originated or stopped in the U.S. The medal was established in 1990 by friends of the late Mr. Hanson, an ocean-racing sailor from the Chesapeake Bay, with the purpose of recognizing significant accomplishments in seamanship and collecting case studies of rescues for analysis by the Safety-at-Sea Committee of US Sailing for use in educational and training programs. Any individual or organization may submit a nomination for a Hanson Rescue Medal.

More information about the Hanson Rescue Medal, including nomination forms, may be found at
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