The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has selected Tom and Vicky Jackson to receive its 2015 Blue Water Medal, established in 1923 to recognize “a meritorious example of seamanship.” The Jacksons were cited for their extensive cruising and racing over the past 34 years aboard their 40’ Sparkman & Stephens-designed Sunstone. On the now nearly 50-year-old sloop, they covered close to 200,000 miles, including a circumnavigation. The medal was presented at the Club’s annual Awards Dinner in New York on March 4, 2016.
The Jacksons met 45 years ago while crewing together in the Fastnet Race. They married thereafter in 1972 and, except for a short pause, have been cruising and racing since. Starting in 1978 they lived aboard a 31' Kim Holman design on the East Coast of England. They bought Sunstonein 1981, and moved aboard her, residing first on the East Coast and later in the Hamble, England. The couple initially raced Sunstone in numerous British offshore racing events, and during the period from 1982 to 1997 they collected a series of class and overall victories, including the British Commodore’s Cup in 1996. Out of eight Fastnets entered, Sunstone won her class in four.
Still living aboard Sunstone in 1997, the Jackson’s each elected early retirement and began serious worldwide cruising. In 2007, they received the Ocean Cruising Club’s Barton Cup Award for the completion of a circuitous 80,000-mile circumnavigation, which included the rounding of the five great capes. Departing the Hamble, they sailed to Spain, the Caribbean, the USA’s east coast (winning a first in class in the New York Yacht Club Regatta and competing in the Newport Bermuda Race), Nova Scotia, back to the Bahamas, through the Panama Canal, cruising the South Pacific to New Zealand (which they circumnavigated), then on to Australia (taking a first in class at the Sydney Hobart Race), back North to Vanuatu and returning to Australia, then to Tahiti, Hawaii, Alaska, British Columbia, the USA’s west coast, Ecuador, Galapagos, Easter Island, Chile, Cape Horn, Falklands, South America, South Africa and finally Port Davey, South Australia, where they crossed their outbound track. From 2007 to 2013 they cruised in the Pacific, visiting the more remote Fiji Islands, then continued on to Guam, Japan, Alaska, Vancouver, Hawaii, and Western Samoa before returning to New Zealand (where they had won the 2008 Round North Island Two-Handed Race) for the double-handed Round New Zealand Race. For this voyage they were awarded the Royal Cruising Club's Challenge Cup.
In spite of a knockdown and assorted damage to Sunstone in the Round New Zealand Race, the Jacksons performed well. Like so many cruisers, they grew to love New Zealand and after being live-aboards for over 30 years, they bought a house. However, by 2014, they were back aboardSunstone and cruised via the Marshal Islands to Dutch Harbor and the Pacific Northwest. The Jackson’s blog would indicate that they will be having a 50th birthday party for Sunstone in November on their cruise back to New Zealand.