Please select your home edition
Zhik 2023 September Seaboot 700 LEADERBOARD

Kirsten Neuschäfer selected 2022 winner of CCA Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy

by John Burnham 4 Jan 06:39 PST
Kirsten Neuschäfer sets sail again aboard Minnehaha, leaving the Hobart `film gate.` © GGR2022

Kirsten Neuschäfer, of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, is this year's recipient of the Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy for playing a pivotal role in the successful rescue of a fellow 2022 Golden Globe Race competitor, Tapio Lehtinen.

As of Jan. 3, 2022, Neuschäfer is continuing to race her 36-foot Minnehaha and is in contention for a podium position while passing south of New Zealand en route to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France.

The Cruising Club of America (CCA) annually awards the Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy to a sailor each year "for an act of seamanship which significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea."

On November 18th, a clear day with moderate winds, Tapio Lehtinen's boat Asteria began taking on water rapidly and sank in 20 minutes, some 460 nautical miles southeast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. An experienced singlehanded sailor, who finished fifth in the same boat in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Tapio scrambled to inflate his liferaft and abandon ship, setting off his EPIRB at 0654 UTC and his liferaft's PLB (personal locator beacon) two hours later.

When Kirsten Neuschäfer, 105 nautical miles to the southwest, learned of Tapio's plight, she suspended racing, changed course, and hand-steered Minnehaha to the rescue as quickly as possible, guided to Tapio's position by the Golden Globe Crisis Team. At the same time, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Cape Town requested help from the nearest commercial vessel, Darya Gayatri, 250 nautical miles away.

Kirsten reached Tapio's position at 0510 UTC the next morning but couldn't see his raft and had only spotty VHF radio communications with Tapio. Conditions at the time were 20 knots of wind and swells of 2 to 3 meters (7 to 10 feet). The Golden Globe Crisis Team at headquarters back in France helped Kirsten home in on the GPS position of Tapio's raft until she could see it. She was then able to bring him aboard Minnehaha at 0700 UTC.

Kirsten called race headquarters at 0805 UTC to confirm that she had retrieved Tapio and they had shared a glass of rum, by which time the Darya Gayatri had arrived to take Tapio aboard. "As I approached [the ship], they tossed us a line," Kirsten said. "We caught it, tied it onto the raft and he got back into the raft. They pulled him to the ladder. He climbed the ladder and then they pulled the raft aboard the ship."

During the Satphone call, Kirsten deflected the congratulations offered. "I'm just glad I could help him," she said. "I'm full of adrenaline right now because it's quite something to be so close to a ship while sailing at sea...I wouldn't like to spend a night in a raft on the southern Indian Ocean. I tried to get there as quickly as I could. No need for congratulations. Anyone would do it for another sailor."

Nonetheless, in a letter Tapio wrote a couple days later, he thanked Kirsten "...for your excellent seamanship in maneuvering Minnehaha next to the raft, getting me onboard and for the rum. And then in cooperation with Captain Naveen Kumar Mehrotra, getting Minnehaha safely in the lee of M/V Darya Gayatri and getting me safely onboard the ship."

Kirsten Neuschäfer receives the Cruising Club of America's Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship for her adherence to the tradition of assisting fellow mariners in distress and for her excellent handling of her vessel in sizeable swells to conduct a liferaft rescue and then maneuver alongside the 750-foot bulk carrier Darya Gayatri.

Related Articles

Viking Route Across the Atlantic sailing guide
Created by members of the Cruising Club of America The CCA Essential Passage Guide to the Viking Route, created by members of the Cruising Club of America, provides mission-critical information for the high-latitude crossing between the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. Posted on 7 Jul
2023 Marion Bermuda Race wrap-up
Not for the faint of heart The fleet saw conditions ranging from fast-moving squalls to completely still air; the mostly light winds tested both patience and skill for the 32 skippers and their crew that set sail on June 16th from Buzzards Bay in Marion, Massachusetts. Posted on 26 Jun
Richard Moody's Boudicca Wins Line Honors
Finishing n the early morning light on Monday in the 2023 Marion Bermuda Race In the early morning light on Monday, Richard Moody's Boudicca crossed the Marion Bermuda Race finish line off of St. David's Lighthouse, having sailed a total of 705 miles in just 2 days, 17 hours, 26 minutes, 27 seconds. Posted on 19 Jun
2023 Marion Bermuda Race day 1
The fleet sets sail from just off Marion, Massachusetts Beneath sunny skies and a light breeze, the 32-boat fleet in the 2023 Marion Bermuda Race set sail from just off Marion, Massachusetts on Friday, June 16th. Posted on 17 Jun
Marion Bermuda Race: Weather in the Gulf Stream
W. Frank Bohlen has prepared two documents ahead of the race W. Frank Bohlen, from UConn's Marine Sciences Program, has prepared two documents ahead of the Marion Bermuda Race in regards to the Gulf Stream. Posted on 25 May
Clearing Customs 101
Sailing to a foreign country involves a great deal of planning and paperwork Sailing to a foreign country involves a great deal of planning and paperwork. The Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Organizing Committee is here to help. We have many years of experience and local knowledge of Hamilton and all of Bermuda. Posted on 19 Apr
How to get out of Buzzards Bay, fast
We checked in with 2 experienced Buzzards Bay skippers to get tips for getting out of the Bay fast Buzzards Bay, where we place our start line, is notoriously tricky. In the last handful of years, we've seen everything from gale-force winds to dying breeze, flat or lumpy sea states, and — literally — everything in between. Posted on 12 Apr
CCA honors extraordinary 2022 ocean sailors
Blue Water Medal presented to Kenichi Horie The 2022 Cruising Club of America (CCA) awards ceremony was held at the New York Yacht Club on Saturday and was highlighted by the presentation of the Blue Water Medal to octogenarian Kenichi Horie. Posted on 6 Mar
The Northeast Ocean Race Symposium
The Marion Bermuda Race, Marblehead Halifax Race and the Bermuda 1-2 Race combine For the first time ever, in 2023, the three odd-year ocean races in the northeastern United States are jointly sponsoring an event called the Northeast Ocean Race Symposium on March 25th. Posted on 13 Feb
Hands-On Safety at Sea Training
By Marion Bermuda Race and Cruising Club of America The Marion Bermuda Race and Cruising Club of America are partnering in a Hands-On Safety at Sea training course leading to a US Sailing International Offshore Safety at Sea Certificate. Posted on 11 Feb
Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW FOOTERC-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 BOTTOMRooster 2023 - FOOTER