blue water rewards

Ocean Cruising Club announces award winners for 2017.

24 January 2018


The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) has announced the recipients of awards that recognize achievements in blue water sailing over the past 18 months.  The recipients of these awards were selected from among those nominated by OCC members.

The Club’s premier award, the OCC Barton Cup, named after Humphrey Barton, founder of the OCC, goes to Germany’s Susanne Huber-Curphey, the first woman to navigate the Northwest Passage singlehanded (west to east 6).

The OCC Lifetime Cruising Award, a new award for 2017, goes to British sailor David Scott Cowper, for tackling the world’s most difficult sea routes while completing six circumnavigations. His last circumnavigation tool place via the Hecla and Fury Straits, in which he, accompanied by his son aboard the specially designed aluminium motorboat Polar Bound, became the first to navigate this passage since its discovery in 1822. This was his third circumnavigation in Polar Bound.


The OCC Seamanship Award, which recognises acts of bravery or extraordinary seamanship, goes to Lisa Blair for her solo circumnavigation of Antarctica, which included a dismasting. She had sailed three-quarters of the way around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted in support of climate action when her mast came down in storm conditions. After a four-hour battle in freezing conditions she was able to save her Open 50 yacht Climate Action Now and her life.  She called a Pan Pan then motored toward Cape Town to effect repairs. An attempt to transfer fuel from an 80,000 ton container ship resulted in a collision and further damage, but again she saved her boat, constructed a jury rig, and sailed to Cape Town, and two months later returned to her circumnavigation attempt. Lisa became the first woman to complete a solo circumnavigation of Antarctica, with one stop.

  • Benchmark Time: 103 Days, 7 Hours, 21 Minutes, 38 Seconds.
  • Total Elapsed time: 183 Days, 7 Hours, 21 Minutes, 38 Seconds.

On a more recent voyage, Lisa battled an engine fire and was once again able to save her boat. She has recently completed the Sydney to Hobart Race with an all-female crew, in partnership with the Magenta Project.  Her book Demasted is due to be released soon.

The OCC Award, which recognises valuable service to the OCC or the ocean cruising community as a whole, goes to David Register, lead developer of the OpenCPN navigation software. OpenCPN is chart plotter and navigational planning software developed by a team of active sailors using real world conditions for program testing and refinement. Their motto: “We’re boaters. We’re coders.”

Dave Register initially developed OpenCPN for his own use, as he wasn’t satisfied with commercial products. After other cruisers saw what he was doing, they asked for copies of the software. There are now tens of thousands of active users. was created in 2009.

The product, still free of charge, is now available to run on Windows, Mac and Linux. An Android App version is also available for a small charge in the Android app store. There is even a version for Raspberry Pi. The system is available in 20 different languages and is constantly being improved and updated to keep up with newer charting systems and user requirements. It now incorporates AIS, routes, tidal support and weather. Plug-in modules are available for Climatology, Weather Routing, Weather Fax, Google Earth, Voyage Data Recorder, AIS-radar, SAR, sQuiddio, Radar Overlay, Logbook, and many more.

The OCC Jester Award goes to Josh Ghyselincks for sailing solo 2900 miles in 24 days from Mexico to the Marquesas in Maistral, an Arpege 29, built by Michael Dufour in 1967.

Maistral was OCC Vice Commodore Tony Gooch and his wife Coryn’s first offshore boat, in which they sailed about 65,000 miles. Josh bought her three years ago with the dream of offshore sailing. Maistral is even more basic than when the Gooches had her, as subsequent owners neglected her. She now has no engine – just an indifferent 9 HP outboard – no windvane, and very little navigation or communication equipment.  VC Tony Gooch, himself a solo non-stop circumnavigator, added, “Josh uses the poled-out storm jib method for self-steering … plus bits of string and shock cord. Josh’s voyage is taking him from Victoria across the Pacific to New Zealand (sometimes solo, sometimes with crew).  What he really wants is to find a single-handed girl going his way.” Trevor Leek, current owner of Jester after which the award is named, added: “Josh has my blessing – I’m particularly impressed by the lack of self-steering” (Most appropriately, Jester is steered by a vintage Haslar SP windvane).

Awards Subcommittee Chairman, Fiona Jones, said, “The subcommittee consists of highly experienced cruisers many of whom are underway in various parts of the world – some en route during or following a circumnavigation. They all have a first-hand sense of what it takes to stand out above the crowd. They recommended the winners from the slate of nominees, who were then ratified by the General Committee. We are very pleased with the outcome.”

“We had an extraordinary group of nominees this year – as we nearly always do – with high-achieving women up there along with the men,” added Commodore Anne Hammick. “It’s no longer enough to ‘just’ circumnavigate, as can be seen by the growing number of circumnavigations listed on the OCC website. Yet every year, cruisers’ achievements surpass expectations. We congratulate all the Award winners, but equally commend all our members around the world who aspire to challenge themselves on the world’s oceans.”

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