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Ocean Cruising Club Award to First Woman to Navigate the Northwest Passage Single–handed

22nd January 2018
David Scott Cowper wins an OCC Lifetime Cruising Award for his navigation of the Hecla and Fury Straits, in which he, accompanied by his son aboard the specially designed aluminium motorboat Polar Bound, became the first to navigate this passage since its discovery in 1822. This was his third circumnavigation in Polar Bound. David Scott Cowper wins an OCC Lifetime Cruising Award for his navigation of the Hecla and Fury Straits, in which he, accompanied by his son aboard the specially designed aluminium motorboat Polar Bound, became the first to navigate this passage since its discovery in 1822. This was his third circumnavigation in Polar Bound.

The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) has announced the recipients of awards that recognise achievements in blue water sailing over the past 18 months. The recipients of these awards were selected from among those nominated by OCC members.

The Club’s premier award, the OCC Barton Cup, named after Humphrey Barton, founder of the OCC, goes to Germany’s Susanne Huber-Curphey, the first woman to navigate the
Northwest Passage singlehanded (west to east). She received extraordinary praise from Victor Wejer, who himself was recognised for his assistance with ice and weather reports by the
OCC Award of Merit in 2016. He advised Susanne during her passage in s/v Nehaj (11·9 m cutter). He wrote to us that Susanne completed her passage “with great style, ability and perseverance, beating many experienced crew who were way ahead. She provided all support and immense friendship to others, even when her own resources were at their

In 2008, Susanne and her husband Tony Curphey were awarded the Cruising Club of America’s Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship when Susanne, sailing solo
aboard her own vessel So Long, a 1964 Rhodes 41, rescued her husband sailing solo aboard Galenaia, a 1958 plywood 27 foot cutter, when it started taking on water 29 days out
of Bunbury in Western Australia. She towed Galenaia, with Tony still aboard, for 650 nautical miles to Port Nelson in New Zealand under challenging conditions.

David Scott Cowper  – OCC Lifetime Cruising Award

The OCC Lifetime Cruising Award, a new award for 2017, goes to British sailor David Scott Cowper, for tackling the world’s most difficult sea routes while completing six circumnavigations. His last circumnavigation tool place via the Hecla and Fury Straits, in which he, accompanied by his son aboard the specially designed aluminium motorboat Polar Bound, became the first to navigate this passage since its discovery in 1822. This was his third circumnavigation in Polar Bound. 

Scott Cowper became well known in the 1970s and ‘80s for various sailing exploits, including competing in The Observer Round Britain and Ireland Race and the Singlehanded
Transatlantic Race (OSTAR). In 1982 he achieved fame when he completed two circumnavigations in his 41ft Huisman-built S&S sloop Ocean Bound and became the fastest
person to sail singlehanded around the world in both directions, breaking Sir Francis Chichester’s record by a day and Chay Blyth’s by 72 days.

Scott Cowper’s move from sail to power in 1984 was based on his interest in the Arctic, where navigation often takes place under power. His preparatory cruise around the world via
the Panama Canal in a former RNLI lifeboat, the Mabel E Holland, achieved him the honour of being the first person to circumnavigate solo in a motorboat, and the first to do so via sail
and power. In 1986, he embarked on a circumnavigation via the Northwest Passage which took four years, concluding in 1990 via the McClure Strait, the most northerly of the seven
known routes.

The Frozen Frontier: Polar Bound through the Northwest Passage about his polar expeditions was written by his companion and co-adventurer Jane Maufe. David lives and
works in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is a Chartered Building Surveyor and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, but his passion is sailing.

Lisa Blair – OCC Seamanship Award

The OCC Seamanship Award, which recognises acts of bravery or extraordinary seamanship, goes to Lisa Blair for her solo circumnavigation of Antarctica, which included a dismasting.
She had sailed three-quarters of the way around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted in support of climate action when her mast came down in storm conditions. After a four-
hour battle in freezing conditions she was able to save her Open 50 yacht Climate Action Now and her life. She called a Pan Pan then motored toward Cape Town to effect
repairs. An attempt to transfer fuel from an 80,000 ton container ship resulted in a collision and further damage, but again she saved her boat, constructed a jury rig, and
sailed to Cape Town, and two months later returned to her circumnavigation attempt. Lisa became the first woman to complete a solo circumnavigation of Antarctica, with one

Benchmark Time: 103 Days, 7 Hours, 21 Minutes, 38 Seconds.

Total Elapsed time: 183 Days, 7 Hours, 21 Minutes, 38 Seconds.

On a more recent voyage, Lisa battled an engine fire and was once again able to save her boat. She has recently completed the Sydney to Hobart Race with an all-female crew, in partnership with the Magenta Project. Her book Demasted is due to be released soon.

Published in Cruising Team

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