Cruising Club honors sailor for seamanship

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The Cruising Club of America will award the 2010 Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship to Alessandro Di Benedetto for his jury-rigging a mast after being dismasted near Cape Horn on his solo, non-stop circumnavigation on the 21-foot monohull Findomestic.

This award is given "for an act of seamanship which significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea." The award will be presented March 4 by Cruising Club of America Commodore Sheila McCurdy during the club's annual awards dinner at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.

Di Benedetto was born in Rome in 1971 and began sailing at the age of 8 and lays claim to the distinction of completing the first non-stop solo around-the-world voyage on a 21-foot monohull without an engine.

Di Benedetto's most recent and memorable journey was in 2009 when he departed Oct. 26 from Les Sables d'Olonne, France in a 21-foot (6.5-meter) sailboat that he had rebuilt and customized in preparation for his solo, non-stop, 24,000-mile voyage around the world. As he came to the last leg of the journey and began approaching Cape Horn (the most treacherous part of the voyage) he was dismasted, causing him to choose between getting help on land or jury-rigging the mast. He decided to carry on with the jury rig.

On July 22, 2010, after 268 days, 19 hours, 36 minutes and 12 seconds at sea, Di Benedetto completed his around-the-world voyage and set the record for smallest boat to complete a non-stop solo voyage.