Taking U.K. sailing’s top accolade in an upset, 28-year-old Gavin Reid surpassed tough competition—Giles Scott, Olympic Finn gold medalist and Brian Thompson, two-time Around the Isle of Wight course record breaker. Reid received the award, which is sponsored by boats.com, earlier today in London from last year’s winner, Ian Walker, the victorious skipper in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race.
In an Olympic year in which two British teams won Olympic golds (see Giles Scott wins gold with a day to spare and Gold for Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark), many expected an Olympian to take the title. The fact that the award went to Reid, who was not as well known, speaks to his actions while sailing near the coast of Australia.
Reid from Cambridge, England, was a crewmember aboard Mission Performance throughout the Clipper Round the World Race. When the crew picked up an SOS from a race boat that was returning to Sydney after the race to Hobart, Sydney boat, they learned that a crewman was stuck at the top of the mast and assistance was needed.
Reid, who is profoundly deaf and had zero sailing experience before signing up for the Clipper Race, volunteered to swim between the two yachts and found four other crew onboard all incapacitated and unable to help their crewmate, who had been tangled in halyards at the top of the mast for several hours. Using the one remaining staysail halyard, Reid was able to hoist himself two-thirds of the way up the swinging mast, then climbed the rest of the way hand-over-hand to reach the crewman, untangle the lines, and help to lower him down safely.
boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year
The boats.com YJA Young Sailor of the Year was also announced. The title went to 15-year-old Elliott Kuzyk, from Parkstone Yacht Club. Elliott won the 2016 Topper class World Championships, which was held in Ireland.
Two hundred boats competed in what was the class's the second largest World Championships ever. Kuzyk eventually took the title after a seven-way battle for the top spot. He also won the Topper southern area championships for an unprecedented fifth year in succession.
On accepting his award, Kuzyk said, “I would like to say thank you very much; it wasn’t quite how I imagined my second day of GCSE mock exams turning out! I would like to thank my parents for their continued support over the years and hopefully for the years to come.”