The Cruising Club of America awarded GGR 2018-2019 winner Jean-Luc Van den Heede with the 2019 Blue Water Medal for his achievements in single-handed sailing, notably six solo circumnavigations, including fastest circumnavigation against prevailing winds and his victory in the first edition of the Golden Globe Race.
VDH joins high profile recipients of the award created in 1923 to reward ‘meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea’, including Eric Tabarly, Sir Francis Chichester, Bernard Moitessier, Rod Stephens, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
Jean-Luc was surprised and honoured with the distinction:
This medal rewards more than 40 years of sailing and racing around the world, but it certainly owes a lot to my recent victory with Matmut in the ‘vintage’ Golden Globe Race, which celebrated, 50 years later, the victory of another Blue Water Medal winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to complete a non-stop solo round-the-world race. I would like to thank Don McIntyre for reviving this event and Yannick Moreau, the mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, for supporting this event so that it could leave and return to the town that has become my homeport for 20 years.
Yannick MOREAU, Mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, homeport of the GGR; and President of the Agglomération was very pleased with the CCA´s award:
The people of Les Sables are proud and happy that VDH, the big winner of the 2018-2019 edition after 211 days at sea, has obtained this distinction. It is the recognition of the feat of an exceptional sailor in an exceptional race, the Golden Globe Race, which the town and the Agglomeration of Les Sables d’Olonne have had the pleasure of supporting since the beginning.
The CCA also awarded the 2018 GGR Irish competitor Gregor McGuckin with the Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy for his attempted rescue of fellow competitor Abhilash Tomy under jury rig. McGuckin and Tomy had both dismasted in the same hurricane force storm in the Southern Ocean, McGuckin jury-rigged and hand-steered his boat for four days in order to be on site to assist with the rescue if required, up to within 25 miles of his fellow competitor.
Abhilash Tomy was ultimately rescued by a French fishing vessel, and McGuckin did not declare an emergency for himself, despite being rolled over and losing his mast.
Don McIntyre, GGR Founder and Chairman was delighted with both awards:
The CCA is a pillar of ocean and adventure sailing worldwide, and I am very pleased with both awards that are putting the seamanship of sailors forward. The race itself, with low-tech and vintage rules puts seamanship and sailors first. The high attrition rate if anything, is a testament to the dedication and resilience of all entrants, whether they finish or not.
The second edition of the Golden Globe Race is well underway with the confirmed host port of Les Sables d´Olonne and 26 confirmed entries to date on the 30 slots available, representing a wide array of sailors and boats alike. With 12 countries represented, British and Australian sailors make up for half of the fleet, while the North America, South Africa, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Finland and Austria complete a very international entry list.
The Cruising Club of America (CCA) is an international organisation launched in 1922, promoting cruising, boat racing, and offshore sailing.
At its core, the CCA is a collection of passionate, seriously accomplished, ocean sailors making adventurous use of the seas.
All members have extensive offshore boat handling, seamanship, and command experience honed over many years.
The Blue Water Medal is generally awarded annually to ‘reward meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea displayed by sailors of all nationalities’. Blue Water Medallists have included such luminaries of the sailing world as Rod Stephens, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Sir Francis Chichester, Eric Tabarly, Pete Goss and Bernard Moitessier. In 1940, the medal was presented to ‘the British Yachtsmen at Dunkerque’.
The Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy is awarded by the Club for an act of seamanship that significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea.