The Ocean Cruising Club has announced the winners of its annual awards, which recognise the achievements of cruising sailors

Bert ter Hart, who completed a non-stop, unsponsored, solo circumnavigation of the world via the Five Capes without the use of GPS or other electronic aids to navigation has won the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC)’s highest honour – the Barton Cup.

The American skipper left Victoria, BC on 27 October 2019 aboard his 1987 Reliance 44, Seaburban, for a west-about circumnavigation, returning on 11 August 2020. 

“Being named as this year’s recipient of the OCC’s Barton Cup is an incredible honour and profoundly humbling,” ter Hart told Yachting Monthly.

Bert her Hart has won the Ocean Cruising Club's Barton Cup

Bert ter Hart’s circumnavigation took seven months. Credit: Don Butt, MD

“It’s beyond imagining to have Seaburban listed among the extraordinary boats and sailors who have come before me. The Cup itself is easily argued as the highest, most prestigious award handed out to amateur sailors.

“Previous winners read as a who’s who of voyaging sailors. I am deeply indebted to the Ocean Cruising Club and the SV Searburban Shoreteam for making the voyage possible,” he added.

ter Hart’s seven-month voyage is believed to be a world record for the longest duration in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ocean Cruising Club said Bert’s “navigational skill and seamanship set a magnificent example to all distance sailors.”

He was also a recipient of an OCC Challenge Grant which was instituted to help support particularly adventurous or environmentally conscious endeavours.

Daria and Alex Blackwell, Moira Bentzel, Tim Goodyear, Fiona Jones and Guy Chester jointly received the OCC Award for monitoring, tracking and assisting hundreds of sailors in the Atlantic and the Pacific who were undertaking hazardous voyages because of the pandemic and often with hurricane and cyclone seasons threatening.

Tracks of yachts crossing the Atlantic in 2020

The fleet tracker provided by Predict Wind that enabled the OCC Award recipients to track the vessels returning to Europe from the Americas and Caribbean

These sailors included many OCC members but also many non-members only too glad to have their sometimes lifesaving help.

The OCC Seamanship Award was won by Garry Crothers.

The solo skipper, who has just one arm, was in St Martin when COVID-19 struck, and sailed from the Caribbean to Derry in Northern Ireland in 37 days to attend his daughter’s wedding.

Crothers, who is involved in sailing for people with disabilities, is described by the OCC as “a true role model and inspiration.”

Garry Crothers arrives in Derry aboard s/v Kind of Blue

Garry Crothers arrives in Derry aboard s/v Kind of Blue

He was one of the sailors assisted by the group receiving the OCC Award, who were checking in with him daily while he crossed the Atlantic.

Continues below…

Bert terHer is solo circumnavigating around the world during the coronavirus pandemic

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Described as a “fantastic character full of soul, wisdom and experience”, Nick Skeates has won the OCC Lifetime Cruising Award.

Since leaving the UK in 1975, Skeates has lived aboard almost permanently, first on his 28ft Morgan-Giles designed Wylo and then on his 32ft gaff cutter, Wylo II, which he designed and built himself.

Nick Skeates won the Ocean Cruising Club lifetime award

Nick Skeates has been cruising since leaving the UK in 1975. Credit: Lizzie Bowen

Since 1980,  he has made four circumnavigations aboard Wylo II, covering more than 250,000 miles; he has crossed the Atlantic more times than he can count.

Wylo II is very simple but extremely strong – at least one sistership has sailed around Cape Horn– with an interior built mainly from recycled timber and a Primus stove in the galley.

Skeates still prefers to navigate by sextant, though he admits to carrying a GPS in reserve.

“In these days of ever-larger cruising yachts with all the bells and whistles, Nick remains true to the philosophy which has served him well for nearly 50 years,” the OCC noted.

The Vassey Vase went to Graham and Avril Johnson for their 18-year long circumnavigation of the world, mostly in the high latitudes.

The OCC Jester Award, which recognises voyages in small vessels, went to Jack van Ommen for his years-long journey to circumnavigate the globe before his 80th birthday.

Croatian sailor Saša Fegic received the OCC Qualifier’s Mug, which recognises the most ambitious or arduous qualifying voyage published by a member in print or online, or submitted to the OCC for future publication.

Saša Fegic

Saša Fegic received the OCC Qualifier’s Mug

He sailed his 40-year-old boat, HIR 3 39,000 miles on a west to east circumnavigation of the world around three of the Great Capes, before returning to his homeport of Mali Losinjon on 17 October 2020.

Other award winners were:

OCC Water Music Trophy to Kirk Patterson
OCC Port Officer Service Award to Victor Langerwerf (Curacao) and Peter Café
Sport (Horta, Azores)
OCC David Wallis Trophy to Dag and Thresa Holland
The Vertue Award, a regional US award, was presented to Regional Rear Commodores Bill and Lydia Strickland.

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