Environment: 2023 Brian Black Memorial Award Winners Announced

A story about a sailor’s journey from Norway to Svalbard and a video about a family’s encounter with wildlife at sea, are the winners of the 2023 Brian Black Memorial Awards for marine environmental journalism.

Published 8 months ago

Source:  Yachting Monthly

  • Family sailing the world and documenting marine biodiversity win £2,000 video award
  • Young sailor exploring shifting expectations in the Arctic wins £2,000 writing award
  • Donation of £1,500 to Sea-Changers charity supports conservation in UK

Two amazing stories have been chosen as the winners of this year’s Brian Black Memorial Award, in association with B&G. Their entries demonstrated the value and importance of storytelling in sharing the unique access sailors have to witness and document environmental issues first hand, bringing the science and data to life for a wider audience. Each was awarded prizes of £2,000 as part of the annual Brian Black Memorial Award, in association with B&G.

Writing Award Winner

Tim Linsell evoked his expedition from Norway to Svalbard with his beautiful writing and dramatic images, capturing his wonder at encountering whales, mountains and glaciers by boat, but is dismayed by the rate of change in the Arctic, and our increasingly pessimistic expectations of what a healthy marine environment looks like.

Writing award winner Tim Linsell said: ‘Receiving this award in memory of such an inspiring figure and from such an esteemed panel is incredible. The sea and the experiences I have had sailing on it have had a singular impact on my life. Being offered the chance to share some of these stories means a great deal, and I hope that perhaps it will encourage others to share their own.’

Tin Limsell photo (c) Yachting Monthly magazine.

Video Award Winners

Irenka and Alan Wood have been sailing the world with their three young children since 2017. Their fun, informative and emotional video captures the joy of encountering wildlife at sea, and the pressures faced by different ecosystems around the globe, with a message of urgency, and hope for this and future generations.

Video award winners, the Wood family, said: ‘We are humbled and grateful to win this award, an award which sheds light on something that is close to our hearts. When we witnessed the challenges faced by the oceans and the biodiversity in it, our journey transformed into more than a family adventure. Conservation was something we all wanted to get involved in. Let’s keep spreading the word and taking action to protect our marine ecosystems.’

Runners-up demonstrate high standard of writing

The quality of entries this year was extremely high, and two very close runners up were selected for the writing award. Kirstin Jones’ account of her cruise through the Scottish Islands takes us face-to-face with puffins, gannets and shearwaters in those islands, with a deep understanding of the ecosystem in disarray around them.

Ivar Smits and Florian van Hees spent time in French Polynesia getting to grips with coral gardening as a means of restoring damaged or dying coral reefs protecting the islands and sustaining fish stocks.

Video runners up Ania and Bartek Dawidowski were selected for their video exploring coral gardening and reef restoration in the Caribbean, engaging with experts and scientists at the cutting edge.

Donation to Sea-Changers

A donation of £1,500 was made to the marine conservation fund-raising charity Sea-Changers to support grass-roots, practical conservation and education projects around the UK.

Intrepid sailors with stories to tell will be invited to submit more stories in 2024.

Articles and videos can be read, watched and shared via:

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About the Award

The Brian Black Memorial Award was established in 2021 with the support of marine electronics company, B&G, in order to commemorate the lives of Brian and his wife Lesley Black.

Brian was a lifelong sailor, a television journalist for RTE in Ireland, UTV in Northern Ireland and later through his own production company. He was also a passionate advocate for the marine environment, writing and film-making about the crises facing fragile Arctic ecosystems. He was also a regular contributor to Yachting Monthly. His wife Lesley blazed a trail for women in sailing, becoming the first female yacht club commodore in Northern Ireland, and was an author in her own right.


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