Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

The Ultimate Cruisers' Planning Tool


You are here: Home / General / Cruising Information / Cruising Club of America Annual Awards Announced

Cruising Club of America Annual Awards Announced

By The Cruising Club of America — last modified Feb 21, 2013 01:06 PM
Soon after the founding of the Cruising Club of America, the Club decided that it would be fitting to record and reward examples of meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea, displayed by amateur sailors of all nationalities, that might otherwise go unrecognized.

Published: 2013-02-13 00:00:00
Topics: Cruising Information
Countries: USA , United Kingdom

This recommendation triggered the founding of the CCA's prestigious Blue Water Medal.

2012 Blue Water Medal Awarded to David S. Cowper

The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has selected David S. Cowper (Newcastle, England) to receive its Blue Water Medal for his completion of six solo circumnavigations of the world and five solo transits of the Northwest Passage. The Blue Water Medal was first awarded in 1923 and is given “for a most meritorious example of seamanship, the recipient to be selected from among the amateurs of all nations.” The award will be presented by Commodore Daniel P. Dyer, III at the annual Awards Dinner on March 1, 2013 at New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.

Born in war-torn Britain in 1942, Cowper is an Englishman who was educated at Stowe School in Buckingham and is a member of the Royal Cruising Club. Sailing has been a passion of his since an early age, and his profession as a Chartered Surveyor and a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has allowed him to take time off to sail alone around the World.

In 1980, Cowper completed the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe by way of Cape Horn (Chile), Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), and Cape Leeuwin (Australia) in his Sparkman & Stephens 41-foot sloop Ocean Bound in 225 days, beating the record holder at the time, Sir Francis Chichester, by one day. Two years later, he repeated the feat, sailing against the prevailing westerly winds and rounding all five capes in 237 days, beating record holder Chay Blyth’s time by 71 days and becoming the first person to ever circumnavigate the world in both directions.

In 1984, Cowper moved from sailboats to motorboats and converted the 42-foot ex-Royal National Lifeboat, Mabel E. Holland, into his new vessel, and took it westward around the globe, becoming the first person to circumnavigate solo on a motor vessel.

In 1986, Cowper made his first attempt to complete the Northwest Passage, an ice covered sea route through the Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of North America.  He departed the U.K. and made his way across the North Atlantic Ocean and up the West Coast of Greenland. After entering Lancaster Sound in the Canadian Arctic, Cowper went on to Fort Ross on Somerset Island. Here, heavy pack ice forced him to leave his boat and he returned to England. In the short summer of 1987, Cowper returned to the Mabel E. Holland and managed to get the waterlogged boat ashore and repair it. He returned again in 1988 and was able to reach Alaska, where he left the boat in Inuvik.

Cowper sailed through the Bering Strait in 1989, becoming the first person to have completed the Northwest Passage single handed as part of a circumnavigation of the world. He continued on the voyage via the Midway Islands in Hawaii and Papua New Guinea before reaching Darwin in Australia, where he stored his boat for the hurricane season. In April 1990, Cowper resumed the voyage via the Cape of Good Hope and arrived back home in Newcastle that year on September 24. He then wrote the book, Northwest Passage Solo about his four-and-a-half-year solo circumnavigation.

Read more about Cowper's achievements here.

For links to articles about the remaining award winners go to the CCA Website.

About the Cruising Club of America

The Cruising Club of America is dedicated to offshore cruising, voyaging and the “adventurous use of the sea” through efforts to improve seamanship, the design of seaworthy yachts, safe yachting procedures and environmental awareness. Now in its 90th year, the club has 11 stations throughout the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, with approximately 1200 members who are qualified by their experience in offshore passage making. In even-numbered years, the CCA organizes the Newport to Bermuda Race in conjunction with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Through the club’s Bonnell Cove Foundation, grants are made to 501 C3 organizations for safety at sea and environment of the sea projects.  For more information on the CCA, go to

Platinum Sponsors
Home Port for the Ocean Cruising Community
Bi-annual OCC Flying Fish Journal
Worldwide Port Officers

Over 200 boats and 1200 people take part in the ARC every year
2700 NM across the Atlantic from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia
A rally for everyone; families, racers, couples, big boats and modest boats
Two weeks of pre-departure activities in Las Palmas
Welcomed in Saint Lucia with a rum punch and a chilled beer
Fantastic achievement - crossing an ocean on a small sailboat