OCC Awards Event
24 Apr 2012 Jenny Franklin
The OCC Awards dinner is always a highlight of the OCC year, and to kick the day off, Peter and Wendy Whatley had invited a small group to sail across the Solent in Ear to Eternity – what
better way to arrive at the Royal Yacht Squadron than by yacht?
A great way to informally get together with Award of Merit winners Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson, a delightfully low-key couple who take the eco-lifestyle very seriously.
Having lived full-time aboard the 30ft Wanderer III (the Hiscock’s boat) for the past 30 years, in all weather, in extreme places like the Antarctic (they had just returned from 26 months in S. Georgia!), they had many tales to tell, as did all the award winners later that evening.But not of dire privation and daunting catastrophes – rather their tales were of a simple life, well-lived, of the pleasure and excitement of unspoiled places and untouched anchorages, of living with no safety blanket of electronic gadgetry or access to the local lifeboat or coast guard: but of making their own way, completely self-reliant, making a difference in other people’s lives with their care and concern, but leaving behind nothing except memories and footprints.
A frantic change from sailing scruff to ‘correct’ attire, and we were ushered into the hallowed halls of the RYS, where we met the rest of the Committee off the ferry over drinks: for many of us it was our first visit, and it was fascinating to stare up at walls dripping with austere important bodies and gawk at display cabinets laden with silverware of all shapes and sizes. Most impressive!
Over a delicious lunch, Bill McLaren was presented with a beautiful decanter and whiskey glasses etched with the OCC flying fish and thanked most sincerely for his stalwart services to the OCC over the past 3 years as Commodore. Dick Moore was also given a presentation, for his effective work in drumming up advertising for both Flying Fish and the Newsletter.
Then it was time to scurry back to the Royal Southampton Yacht Club for the AGM: approx. 65 attendees. The formal business of the Club was run through in very smart time by Bill McLaren before he officially handed over his duties to John Franklin, the incoming Commodore. Nothing of any note was raised (or given time to poke its head up!), official photos were taken, and then it was time to retire to the bar below for drinks and social chit-chat before the official dinner and Awards presentation.
The meet and greet was awash with conversation as people who hadn’t seen each other for years met up again: what a small world this sailing community actually is. Good to see ex-Commodores Alan Taylor and wife Jenny, and Mike Pocock with wife Pat (who of course is also Hum Barton’s daughter!); Bill Wise, one of only five remaining original Founder Members; and a slew of travellers from afar.
The RSYC did us proud with their traditional steak and kidney pud, and table conversations were vibrant. I was privileged to sit between Thies and Capt Chris Clarke of the Navy RFA Wave Knight that was forced to stand by as Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped off the Seychelles, but who did manage to bring the boat home to the UK. What an entertaining contrast: on the one hand, a man whose ship had all the bells and whistles, electronic gadgets and instrumentation imaginable, a professional Master Mariner – and on the other, a live-aboard sailor who had spent 30 years sailing in extreme conditions to extreme places in a little 30ft wooden boat, sans any instrumentation except a trusty sextant (and a very recent purchase of a hand-held GPS and a VHF “because when you go into harbours now, people don’t listen to you shouting from the bow any more”). At one point, Capt Clark leaned over to Thies and asked very seriously, “But how do you get weather information?” It was an obvious reply from Thies. “I open the hatch and look out,” he said. It was a fascinating evening.
Peter Whatley as chairman of the Awards Committee had pulled out all the stops. The evening was slick, well-run and a pleasure to attend, and Peter’s gracious attitude made everyone feel special as he co-ordinated the presentations and gave everyone their “moment in the sun” and an opportunity to speak. I think we were all sorry when it ended!
The highlight of the evening was obviously the Award winners, and we listened entranced to the various winners talk of their experiences. Peter Patternotte’s joy at winning the Qualifiers’ Mug was infectious: “I wanted to qualify for the OCC when I left Europe for the USA,” he said. “This is more than I expected!” And Mike Bickell was equally delighted to win the Water Music Trophy; “I’m over the moon,” he said. “I started producing my maps and articles to create a family record, and this award is a striking confirmation that they do.” And Paul and Rachel Chandler’s quiet pointer of those who are still being held in captivity was a sobering reminder that sailing is not all fun and sun. Undoubtedly Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson were the most unusual; I don’t think many of us there would willingly embrace their lifestyle (he told me they had lived on $2000 a YEAR for many years!), but it was thought-provoking and illuminating, and they are worthy winners.
– I quote briefly below, but his full speech is available under latest OCC Awards on the website:
“... in an odd way, coming here today is a sort of home-coming. Or - better said - a bringing home in spirit something that has belonged here. It has to do with our boat. Somewhere, hidden in my toolbox in Denmark, there is a bronze name plate that reads ‘Southampton’, Wanderer III’s first port of registry. It has been handed along from owner to owner, starting with Susan and Eric Hiscock in the Fifties until, 30 years ago, it reached Kicki and me.
Eric and Susan planted a seed, and all of us followed. To this day she has sailed 300,000 miles, half of them with us, in many large and small circles. She has never really stopped. She is an extraordinary boat, a fantastic partner: beautiful and capable. Yet what she really is – is an eyewitness.”
To each Award winner for 2011, congratulations. Your achievement was worthy of recognition, your acceptance speeches were heartfelt, meaningful and of intense interest to us all. We are honoured to have been the Club to have recognised you!
OCC Award of Merit: Thies Matzen & Kicki Ericson
OCC Award of Merit: Paul & Rachel Chandler
OCC Award: Ken & Heather Baker
Geoff Pack Memorial Award: Jimmy Cornell
The Rose Medal: Pete Morley
The Jester Medal: Mervyn Wheatley
The Barton Cup: Ralf Dominick
The Rambler Medal: Mike & Helen Norris
The David Wallis Trophy: Rosemarie Alecio
The Water Music Trophy: Mike Bickell
The Qualifier’s Mug: Peter Paternotte
The Port Officer Medal: George & Nancy Marvin
Full details of these Awards go to http://www.oceancruisingclub.org/images/Bulletin/occ_awards_2012_withlink.pdf