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Solo sailors up for seamanship award - New England

Mike Golding saved another solo racer; Maud Fontenoy carried on after her boat was dismasted

Mike Golding saved another solo racer; Maud Fontenoy carried on after her boat was dismasted

Two circumnavigators — one who rescued a competitor and the other who rescued herself — are the first nominees for the 2007 Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship, which will be chosen at the annual Cruising Club of America meeting in November. They are Mike Golding, who sailed back upwind in the Velux Five Oceans race to save another solo racer, and Maud Fontenoy, who completed her private circumnavigation after her boat was dismasted, according to Robert Van Blaricom, who chairs the selection committee.

The CCA hopes to get several more nominations before its meeting, says Van Blaricom, who has chaired the committee for four years. Last year’s recipient was the entire crew of ABN AMRO II, the Volvo Race entry, for their recovery of teammate Hans Horrevoets’ body. Horrevoets fell overboard while the boat raced across the Atlantic. The deadline for the 2007 award is Oct. 15, but Van Blaricom says nominations “can drop in almost up to that day” of the annual CCA meeting.

Golding was nominated for his rescue on Nov. 24, 2006, of Alex Thomson, who had abandoned his boat, Hugo Boss, the day before when it suffered catastrophic keel problems 1,000 miles south of Cape Town, South Africa. Like the attempted rescue in the Volvo Race, Golding’s effort came during “another one of these high-powered ocean races. It sounded like the sort of thing we’re looking for,” Van Blaricom says, adding: “We’d be happy if it was closer to cruising.”

Fontenoy, who is French, was circumnavigating “in a great big, high-powered French-designed boat” when her boat, L’Oreal Paris, was dismasted, Van Blaricom says. By herself Fontenoy raised a heavy boom as a mast and then completed her circumnavigation — around 2,000 miles, he says. “It was pretty amazing that she got this big, heavy spar set up. That was a good nomination.”

Van Blaricom says the CCA usually gets three or four nominations each year. “It’s been fairly easy to pick out the most appropriate one. It was difficult last time because it was an unsuccessful effort, but they [the ABN AMRO II team] did an expert job of it.”

The 2005 award went to the crew of Corwith Cramer, a sail training ship operated by the Sea Education Association of Woods Hole, Mass. The crew rescued 51 Haitian refugees bound for Jamaica whose boat had been disabled, leaving them adrift for five days without food and with little water.

First awarded in 2000, the Rod Stephens Trophy was donated to the CCA by shipmates and friends of that legendary sailor as a perpetual trophy honoring “acts of seamanship which actively contribute to the safety of a yacht or one or more individuals at sea.”

In its 85th year the CCA is, according to its literature, “dedicated to offshore cruising and ‘the adventurous use of the sea’ through efforts to improve seamanship, the design of seaworthy yachts, safe yachting procedures and environmental awareness.”

Nominations for the Rod Stephens Trophy can be submitted to: Robert Van Blaricom, awards chairman, 679 Hawthorne Drive, Tiburon, CA04020, or by e-mail at .