Gaffers Globe Award

The Gaffers Globe Award was instigated by the late Jon Wainwright during his lifetime.
 It is awarded annually 'to an OGA member who has undertaken a major voyage relative to their boat and experience during the year'.

2016 winner: Marion Shirley, skipper, 'East Breeze', Solent Area

Not just a small boat undertaking a long voyage, although it was that, but also a skipper whose greatest cruising exploit to date was participating in the Dutch Cross Country Tour in 2014. Whereas that, after an early solo start, was largely completed in company. This skipper took off in 2016 way ahead of the crowd and completed the long passage to Brest in stages, sailing alone.

She crossed to Alderney in 'East Breeze', a 22' Tamarisk she has adapted for single-handed sailing in June, then sailed on to Guernsey. Her passage to the Treguier River was not without incident and she faced head winds as she continued west enjoying some scenic stops on the way. At Camaret she was a star attraction on the historic boat pontoon, making the local paper and some local fans. She also acquired a crew member, Mary Gibbs, previous winner of this award, with whom she continued to Brest and on to Douarnenez.

Those following her progress were impressed with her resourcefulness in the face of challenges – not just the complex passage planning and the difficult weather conditions, but damage to sails and equipment failures. All coped with admirably by Marion Shirley in the superb Tamarisk 22 'East Breeze'.

2015 winner: Sally & Tony Kiddle sailing 'Step Back in Time', East Coast Area

Sally & Tony Kiddle were awarded the Gaffers Globe for their successful completion of the St Malo cruise in the very small 'Step Back in Time' (19 or 20ft), particularly their initial Channel crossing. They were one of only three boats to set out in very challenging conditions, f.7 with 1-2 metre waves mid Channel, followed by three bumpy days and nights on a mooring buoy in Alderney. The majority of the fleet waited out the gales for four days in Yarmouth before venturing out in calmer conditions.

Sally is/was very new to sailing and I thought she took what was a rough Channel crossing to Alderney very positively, especially as most of her clothes got soaking wet as wave water came sluicing over the cabin roof into the cockpit and flooded into the lockers in the cabin. Sally came out smiling, saying she enjoyed the sail!

Photo credit: 'Step Back in Time, Alderney', Ben Collins

2014 winner: Mary Gibbs, North West Area

This year’s winner certainly sailed well out of her comfort zone in 2014. Yes, after Barbara Runnalls won it last year for her OGA50 Round Britain Challenge (RBC), we are awarding it again to a female gaffer, Mary Gibbs.

Mary has never owned any other boat and hadn’t sailed one like 'Molly Cobbler' until 2014, although she has been learning intensively since the end of April. The only skippering she had done had been on the Norfolk Broads and the only comparable trip was on the RBC in 2013 when she was crew on 'Minstrel'.

Apart from half an hour when she was 18, Mary didn’t sail at all until she was 44. That was a skippered charter on pilot cutter 'Alpha' which she repeated every year until 'Alpha' was sold. Mary then took up dinghy sailing with her younger son and progressed to Day Skipper theory and practical. She also went with one or two women friends for week long sailing holidays on the Broads in Hunter Boats, built in the 1930s and '40s. These boats were engineless, and so she built her boat handling skills.

Mary did do some short courses, but pressure of work as a GP meant there was little time to sail. She left General Practice a few years ago to sail and cycle in the summer and work in the winter. She broke her humerus, but managed to achieve Coastal Skipper in 2012. Last year was taken up with the RBC.

Mary had dreamed of sailing round Britain and also to Amsterdam where her brother has lived for many years. She felt capable although terrified. She set off from Brightlingsea, Essex, in 'Molly Cobbler', June 2014, with crew for the long passage across the North Sea. She then spent time exploring The Netherlands by boat before the start of NL10 the Netherlands Anniversary Cross Country Tour. Mary completed almost all of the tour, in spite of the challenges faced by all small boat skippers of procuring fuel and water and looking after the boat in very hot, and then very windy conditions.

Mary was taken ill at the end of the tour and went home to recuperate. She returned to 'Molly' but, being unable to find crew for a potential North Sea passage, and after a slow start because of the weather, was able to sail 'Molly' single-handed the ‘long way back’ from Den Helder via Ijmuiden, Scheveningen, Hellvoetsluis, Roompotsluis, Blankenberge, Dunkerque, Calais, Dover and Ramsgate before crossing the Thames Estuary to her current home berth in Brightlingsea. She accomplished the latter part of the trip in just over a week of continuous sailing and motor sailing. Mary’s total mileage on this trip must be over 1000 NM.

Photo credit: 'Fred Schotman helms 'Molly' during NL10', Beverley Yates

2013 winner: Barbara Runnalls, Solent Area

Barbara Runnells accepts Gaffers Globe Award, Peter FarrerBarbara was awarded the Gaffers Globe for her single-handed circumnavigation of the RBC:

A well deserved recipient. Don’t ask a lady’s age so I will not say this but I have to say she has done many years of sailing on 'Moon River' and well deserves this trophy. In fact she interrupted her circumnavigation to attend a hospital appointment. What a lady! The Globe was awarded to Barbara by Tom Cunliffe at the London Boat Show so it could be displayed during the show, alongside her boat.