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First Virtual CCA Awards ceremony honors a pantheon of greats

by John Burnham 29 Mar 2021 07:53 PDT
2020 Blue Water Medal Winner Randall Reeves © Cruising Club of America

In early March in a normal year, Cruising Club of America members visit the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan for a weekend of meetings featuring an Awards dinner to recognize more than half a dozen worthy sailors as recipients of the club's major awards.

The pomp and circumstance of that event had to be adapted to a virtual space this year, starting with an hour-long presentation, largely pre-recorded, followed by a longer breakout-room segment in which members conversed with the winners in real time.

As it turned out, sailing royalty showed up from all over the globe, including six previous winners of the Blue Water Medal: Jean Luc Van Den Heede (2019), Skip Novak (2014), Jeanne Socrates (2013), Peter Passano (2007), Tony Gooch (2003), and Bob and Beth Lux (1996). They provided a great welcome reception for the 2020 winner Randall Reeves.

In accepting his award, Reeves said he had had a great deal of good luck, starting with marrying his wife Joanna, who buoyed him up despite "resounding failures." He also credited his luck at finding the right vessel for the trip, his 45-foot aluminum cutter Moli, "a boat fast enough and big enough, simple enough that I could handle it and fix what broke, yet strong enough to handle divergent requisites of big seas in the south and ice in the north." He also credited former owner and Blue Water Medal winner Tony Gooch: "He was my living and breathing owners manual."

Six-time circumnavigator Van Den Heede, who was unable to receive the 2019 award in person due to health reasons, said, "I started sailing because I read books. The first book I had the pleasure to read was by Alain Gerbault, the first man to get this medal [in 1923]." Van Den Heede said he was honored to follow Gerbault and all the others who received the medal, adding, "these people are legends and I'm surprised to join them."

2020 Cruising Club of America Award winners

Randall Reeves — Blue Water Medal
Christian Charalambous — Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy
Calypso Romero/Adrien Koller — Young Voyager Award
Stephen Brown — Far Horizons Medal
Salty Dawg Sailing Association — Special Recognition Award
Simon and Sally Currin — Royal Cruising Club Trophy
Alan K. Forsythe — Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize
Peter L. Chandler — Richard S. Nye Trophy

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