Portsmouth, RI: US Sailing has awarded three of its Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medals in the month of January for separate rescue incidents. In all three incidents, the rescuers selflessly helped fellow mariners who had fallen overboard.

Victims of Disabled Powerboat Rescued by Sailing Couple

On August 12, 2003, Kevin and Karen Kelly were cruising on Joaquin River in California on their 26-feet Clipper Marine when they noticed a disabled powerboat with a number of people yelling in the water nearby. Upon reaching the powerboat, the Kelly's found a 9 year-old girl and two teenage boys in the water attempting to keep their uncle afloat. Only the girl and one of the boys were wearing their personal floating devices (PFDs), the others were not.

The victims did not speak English, but luckily the Kelly's were able to give directions in the victims' native language. First, the teenage boys passed the young girl out of the water to the Kelly's. Second, the Kelly's deployed a rope ladder, which the uncle grabbed. Third, the Kelly's lifted the two boys out of the water. Next, the Kelly's gave the uncle a PFD. The victim's family managed to start the powerboat's engine and came along side the Kelly's boat. Using the powerboat's swim platform and a metal ladder, the uncle was able to climb back onto his powerboat, after having spent 30 minutes in the 60-degree water.

For this rescue, Kevin and Karen Kelly received US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal on January 31, 2004. The medal was presented by US Sailing President Janet Baxter during the organization's National Sailing Programs Symposium in Oakland, California.

Photographer Rescues Man Overboard

The incident took place on September 20, 2003, when Eric Willis was photographing the One-Design Series of Santa Cruz Yacht Club in California. Willis was on board a rigid inflatable boat when he noticed the crew of a Santa Cruz 27 attempting to rescue a man overboard. Unable to rescue the victim, the crew asked Willis to help them in the recovery. Willis pulled the victim, who was wearing a PFD, out of the water and on board his boat. The victim had been in the cold, 58-degree water for five minutes and was showing symptoms of hypothermia. Willis took the victim to Santa Cruz Yacht Club to be treated.

Eric Willis was presented with US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal during a Santa Cruz yacht Club Board of Directors meeting on January 15, 2004. The presentation was made by US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee Advisor Chuck Hawley.

Coach Rescued After Falling Overboard

On July 2, 2003, in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, two coach boats were returning to Barnegat Light Yacht Club after a youth competition in the bay. When coach Becky Mergenthaler was turning her 13-feet Boston Whaler into the harbor, an unexpected wave flipped her out of her boat. The uncontrollable boat began making circles, running over Mergenthaler twice and rendering her unconscious. Mergenthaler was wearing her PFD.

Fellow coaches Jim Roe and Ryan Miller, occupying the second coach boat, took quick action. When the loose Whaler was on its third rotation approaching the victim, Roe purposely drove his boat into the Whaler, forcing the Whaler to change direction. Miller quickly pulled the unconscious Mergenthaler out of the water. Another coach boat nearby alerted emergency services and New Jersey State Marine Police and the U.S. Coast Guard quickly responded. Mergenthaler recovered completely.

Jim Roe and Ryan Miller were awarded US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal on January 13, 2004. The presentation was made by Faye Bennet, member of US Sailing's Board of Directors, at Spray Beach Yacht Club in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

About US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal

The US Sailing Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is given to skippers of pleasure boats or race support vessels who affect rescues of victims from the water. The award is made for rescues in U.S. waters, or in races that originate or terminate in a U.S. port. The Rescue Medal has been in existence for 14 years and is administered by US Sailing's Safety at Sea Committee (SASC).

The Rescue Medals recognize exemplary acts of seamanship, but the award process is also a vital part of US Sailing's effort to gain more education about rescues at sea. The data and stories of award nominees are studied carefully by the SASC for the common practices that contribute to, or deter from, the success of a rescue operation.

For more information about US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal, please visit www.ussailing.org/safety/Rescues/.

The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing) is the national governing body for sailing and sailboat racing. Headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the organization's mission is to encourage participation and promote excellence in sailing and racing in the U.S. US Sailing offers training and education programs, develops and supports a wide range of sailing organizations, associations and communities, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information, visit www.ussailing.org.