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(NEW YORK, March 12, 2023)—The 2023 Cruising Club of America (CCA) awards ceremony was held at the New York Yacht Club on Friday, March 1, highlighted by the presentation of the Blue Water Medal to solo round-the-world sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer. The prestigious Medal was first awarded by the CCA at the Club’s first annual meeting in 1923.  

Neuschäfer, of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, received the Blue Water Medal from Commodore Jay Gowell in recognition of her victory in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, a 235-day solo circumnavigation in which she was the first of three finishers among 17 original starters. The race restricts sailors to the use of sailboats and technology that was available when the race was first held, in 1968.

Self-effacing in her remarks, Neuschäfer said, “It’s a singlehanded race, but many, many people help” and spent most of her speech giving credit to others. She said, “On a very philosophical level, I learned a lot, and it was truly a voyage of collaboration,” then added, “It’s one of those experiences you keep on doing for a while, and the train hasn’t ended.”


Max Campbell and Commodore Gowell

The winner of  the CCA’s Young Voyager Award was Max Campbell, a young English sailor who has cruised halfway around the world and shares his adventures by inviting friends to come along or join via Instagramand YouTube (close to 300,000 followers combined). Campbell’s first boat was a tiny 22-footer that he sailed across the Atlantic and aboard which he survived a serious galley fire. Later, he and his friends restored Elixir, a 1970 Swan 37-footer, and have now sailed it as far as New Zealand.


Campbell flew to New York to accept the CCA’s award and said, “It’s inspiring and humbling to be in a room with so many accomplished sailors.” For introducing him to sailing in the UK at age four and then giving him the passion of travel, he credited his mother Jo Clarkson and his stepfather Dave Cockwell, who were able to meet him in New York for the awards ceremony.

Other award winners included:

  • Max Fletcher received the Far Horizons Award, which recognizes a CCA member for a particularly meritorious cruise or series of cruises. Max cruised with his family as a child, cruised to the Caribbean with a buddy after college, and later sailed with his young family to New Zealand, returning with a friend via Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands. He and his wife Lynnie have made two round-trip Transatlantics to and from Europe, and recently he’s helped others sailing to and from Antarctica and Greenland.
  • Paul Bieker won the Diana Russell Award for innovation in recognition of his performance boat designs and the development of foils on sailing and motor craft that have helped change the way that all high-performance sailing is thought about and practiced today. Paul’s innovations with hydrofoils for sailboats have consistently been at the forefront in our sport from America’s Cup racers to singlehanded Moth sailboats.
  • Ralph Naranjo received the Richard S. Nye Award for service to the CCA and the sailing community as an author and an educator who has always promoted better seamanship and safety practices. Ralph has sailed around the world, run a full-service boatyard, judged the best boats of the year for Cruising World, written books including The Art of Seamanship, and supervised the U.S. Naval Academy sailing program for a decade.
  • Ashley Perrin and Merfyn Owen received the Royal Cruising Club Trophy for “the most interesting cruise of singular merit and moderate duration” in which they cruised doublehanded around Newfoundland and also sailed north to visit the south coast of Greenland. Intended to be of moderate duration, the cruise took five years due to Covid delays!
  • Anne Kolker received the Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize for the best article published in the club’s 2024 Voyages magazine. Titled “XX Sailors,” the story described her personal journey of becoming a competent sailor, captain, instructor, and mentor aboard offshore sailing yachts.
  • Four members received Commodore’s Awards for distinguished service to the Club: Amelia (“Ami”) and Bob Green, who retired after three years as editors of the club magazine Voyages, Sheila McCurdy, who has been writing a new CCA History over the last 10 years; and Paul Hamilton, retiring after 12 years as CCA Fleet Captain.

Read more about all that the winners achieved to earn their awards at the Awards page of the club website.