2020 Blue Water Medal Awarded
to Randall Reeves, Solo Circumnavigator
Club of America has named Reeves as winner of its highest honor for a
Randall Reeves by Caron Shahrestani
Reeves has been named winner of the 2020 Blue Water Medal by the Cruising
Club of America (CCA) for sailing his 45-foot aluminum cutter, Moli,
alone around Antarctica and then through the Northwest Passage in a single
season—departing and arriving from San Francisco.
Photo Randall Reeves
57, is the first person to imagine and accomplish the 39,000-nautical-mile
voyage, which creates a “Figure 8” track around the world, keeping the
Americas to port and Antarctica to starboard.
Photo Vincent Moeyersoms
prestigious Blue Water Medal was first
awarded in 1923. It will be formally presented to Reeves at the
CCA Annual Awards ceremony, a virtual event this year on March 7. The
ceremony will include recognition for winners of other CCA Awards,
including 2019 Blue Water Medal winner Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who was
unable to attend last year's ceremony.
was bitten by the offshore sailing bug as a teenager, voyaging with his
father and later acquiring his own boats and sailing much of the Pacific
Ocean and through the Northwest Passage. He bought Moli, a
proven high-latitudes vessel whose owner, Anthony “Tony” Gooch, had sailed
her around the world, singlehanded, nonstop, and also received the
CCA’s Blue Water Medal (2003).
Photo Sebastiaan Ambtman
second Medal for the same boat is extraordinary. The only other
yacht to achieve this distinction in the 97-year history of the Medal
is Wanderer III, first with Eric and Susan Hiscock (1955), then
with Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson (2011).
Photo Tim Henry/Latitude 38
aboard a boat with Moli’s pedigree, accomplishing the route
Reeves had mapped out required extraordinary determination and
perseverance. In 2017, during a first attempt, the South Pacific seas
damaged Reeves’ autopilot and then his windvane, requiring a repairs stop
in Ushuaia. He continued around Antarctica, trying to keep up with the
seasons, when a South Indian Ocean storm caused multiple knockdowns. Though
there was less wind than in the Pacific, Reeves described the seas as
“tremendous, tall, steep and breaking continuously for 100 and 200 feet.” Moli was
slammed down off a wave, shattering a pilothouse window and drowning all
electronics. Reeves was able to stem the flooding, cover the window, and
navigate another month to Tasmania for temporary repairs. With his “Figure
8” delayed, not abandoned, he sailed nonstop back to San Francisco.
only three months of refit and repairs, Reeves was off on his second
attempt in September of 2018, even better prepared. With new storm
covers attached over windows, new welded railing, new electronics, and vast
recent experience under his belt, around the continents and around the
World he sailed. Keeping the Americas to port and Antarctica to starboard,
passing beneath Cape Horn twice before poking Moli north
through the Arctic ice, Reeves sailed the great loops for 301 days.
During the voyage, Reeves trailed along in his wake an armada of wannabe
adventurers and admirers through his frequent blog entries and onboard
videos shared on his website. Reeves has a way about him—
gracious, caring, and humble with a self-effacing humor. He has proven his
ability to master the oceans without losing his appreciation for the help
he has received and the wonders of the people he has met along the way. On
October 19, 2019, 385 days after setting out, Reeves sailed Moli under
the Golden Gate Bridge to complete the first singlehanded "Figure
8" around Antarctica and the Americas.
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