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Cruising Club hands out honors

The Cruising Club of America this week announced the recipients of its 2006 Blue Water Medal and Rod Stephens Trophy.

Japanese solo sailor Minoru Saito, 71, received the Blue Water Medal for completing in 2005 his seventh single-handed circumnavigation, according to a news release. Saito first raced around the world in the 1990-’91 BOC Challenge and has been sailing the 50-foot Shutendohji II almost continuously since.

The Blue Water Medal is given annually to an individual or couple for meritorious seamanship and adventure, according to the club, and has been presented to such sailing luminaries as Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Alec Rose and Bernard Moitessier.

Saito’s most recent circumnavigation, dubbed “Challenge-7,” began in Tokyo in October 2004 as an informal contest with another Japanese solo sailor, the release says. Saito completed the voyage 7-1/2 months later in June 2005, a few days ahead of his competitor.

The crew of ABN AMRO Two received the Rod Stephens Trophy for their nighttime rescue of a crewmember who went overboard during the New York to Portsmouth, England, leg of the 2005-’06 Volvo Ocean Race, a news release says. The trophy recognizes an act of seamanship that significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht or one or more individuals at sea, the club says.

ABN AMRO Two helmsman/trimmer Hans Horrevoets went overboard May 18, 2006, during a sail change in 30-knot winds and 16-foot seas as the boat sped down a wave and seas washed over the deck. Although crewmembers were unable to resuscitate 32-year-old Horrevoets, the CCA says they acted quickly, followed previously rehearsed procedures, and used excellent judgment in carrying out search tactics.

The honors were handed out at the club’s annual awards dinner, Jan. 16 in New York, says the release.

— Jason Fell