I take my hat off to Peter Passano, the 77-year-old US sailor who has won a top cruising award


It’s the award season and I thought it was cheering to see the Cruising Club of America’s two major trophy recipients this year: Mike Golding and Peter Passano (right).

The CCA is a private club and the awards are, of course, its business but for various reasons I was not especially impressed by the selection of the crew of ABN AMRO Two last year to receive the award for outstanding seamanship for recovering the late Hans Horrevoets during the Volvo Ocean Race, and I wrote about it at the time.

No-one, however, could argue with Mike Golding as a worthy holder of the CCA’s prestigious Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship. He rescued someone else from a predicament that was not of his making, in exceptionally difficult circumstances, abandoning his race to do so and later suffering the calamity of being dismasted.

If you’re a cruising sailor at heart, as I am, the Blue Water Medal award is the highest of all awards, one that recognises incredible voyages made by private individuals in their own time, on their own money, often in quite small boats. The winners have included H. W. Tilman, Bernard Moitessier and Alain Gerbault, heroes all.

This year it went to US sailor Peter Passano, who has been all over in his self-built 39ft steel cutter Sea Bear. He has sailed to Alaska, across the Pacific to Australia, from New Zealand round Cape Horn single-handed and later from the US to Ireland, the UK, Portugal, the Canaries, across to Brazil, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands, South Georgia to Cape Town and back home via St Helena.

Not bad going for anyone, never mind someone in their seventies.

You can read Peter Passano’s wonderfully understated log of the last voyage here.