For a voyage of an unusual or exploratory nature made by a Club member or members.


Australian doctor John Vallentine, s/v Tainui, for a series of interesting and challenging voyages over a ten year period during which he devoted half of each year providing medical services to remote Aboriginal outstations in the western Australian deserts and the other half sailing mostly to cold climates and rugged isolated locations.  In 2013, Tainui became the second foreign yacht to voyage from the White Sea through Russia and Ukraine to the Black Sea; John and his present crew, Maxine, have written a guide book to these waters being published in 2016.   BIO   About the skipper...



Ralph Villiger - For his unusual exploratory passages of the East Coast of Greenland

Ralph Villiger is a 39-year-old Swiss mathematician and also holds a MSc in mathematical finance from Oxford University. He owns his own consultancy business to the pharmaceutical industry and manages a fund dedicated to the development of cancer therapeutics in the UK. 

Ralph started sailing at the age of 18 without his family being linked to sailing in any way. In 2003 he purchased Ntombifuti, a 40' aluminium sloop designed by Ed Dubois and with quite a history in the British short-handed circuit. He has always sailed short-handed, but only took up single-handed sailing when forced to deliver Ntombifuti to England and without having additional crew due to delays. After having sailed AZAB 2011 and OSTAR 2013 he now focuses on combining sailing with his second passion, mountaineering. Back in Switzerland he also runs his own winebar and produces the Swiss Blended Gin nginious!. He is currently in Patagonia. 

For more information, please visit Ralph's website.



Jarlath Cunnane s/v Northabout  -- For the unusual and exploratory voyage through the White Sea Canal through Russia and around Scandinavia 

Jarlath and crew aboard Northabout set out from Westport, Ireland for a journey to St. Petersburg and through the Belomorsk Canal into the White Sea. Northabout logged over 4500 miles in this adventure. She passed through 6 canals and river systems en route, including 115 locks.

Partly because of the difficulty normally inherent in making this transit as Prime Minister Putin had put severe restrictions on transit by any but government authorized transport vessels, few pleasure vessels have made this journey. In fact Northabout had planned to take that route after their successful transit of the Northeast Passage in 2004-2005 but were denied permission. As restrictions were somewhat eased, Jarlath made the decision to try again.

It was a most unusual journey to the Gulag Archipelago which included a visit to Sandermark, a burial ground where 7000 of Stalin’s victims were laid to rest in mass graves. The canal itself, built by Gulag prisoners, was never the engineering marvel that Stalin envisioned. But it is a short cut that allows passage from the Baltic to the White Sea without the long journey through the Arctic Ocean. This voyage both unusual and exploratory is reflective of the spirit of the Vasey Vase.

Jarlath Cunnane, retired construction manager, boat builder and adventurer from Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, is currently building a new boathis biography is on the OCC website.  



Rev Bob Shepton (Dodo's Delight- no-one could deny that Bob Shepton would be a worthy winner for 2012. The account of his two-month voyage through the Northwest Passage aboard his Westerly 33 Dodo’s Delight with a crew of four South African climbers, stopping to make various ‘first ascents’ along the way makes for fascinating reading.

In a full and varied life, Bob Shepton has been a Royal Marines officer, a full time youth leader down the east end of London and Kilburn, and Chaplain to two schools. Since retiring, he has tended to leave the pulpit for the cockpit of his yacht, 'Dodo's Delight'. Through countless seasons of exploring he has become a leading expert on the waters around Greenland, winning the The Royal Cruising Club Tilman Medal twice for his exploits. His articles appear regularly in the international yachting press. Bob is a member of The Ocean Cruising Club, The Royal Cruising Club, The Alpine Club and The Arctic Club.

'Dodo's Delight' is a Westerly 33ft Discus built in 1980. The current yacht is the second 'Dodo's Delight' and is an almost exact replica of the first which was destroyed by fire while wintering in the ice in Greenland in 2005. She is pivotal to Bob's expeditions.



Not awarded



Not awarded



Beth Leonard (Hawk) - This is not the first time that Beth Leonard has won this award, and her account exploring the harbours of South Georgia aboard the 47ft Hawk made her a very worthy winner. She describes in great detail the wonderful scenery and also meeting up with the researchers from British Antarctic Survey who were busy tagging seals with individual GPS devices.

Beth asked Dale Bruce if she would kindly receive the award on her behalf. Dale produced a photo of Beth and Evans and read out Beth’s letter of apology for being unable to attend and also her grateful thanks to the OCC for this award.



Awarded to the late Noël Marshall (Sadko) for what he described as ‘truly the cruise of a lifetime’ – a 47-day voyage from Chile to the Antarctic Peninsula, evocatively described in Flying Fish 2008/1 as A Month in the Antarctic.

After singlehanding from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia to pick up his four additional crewmembers they met only three other boats, one of which was Wandering Albatross – see The OCC Award of Merit, above. However this was more than balanced by the masses of wildlife, including petrels, Antarctic prions, black-browed albatross, Adelie, gentoo and chinstrap penguins, skuas, blue-eyed shags, Antarctic terns, Cape petrels, crabeater and fur seals, and minkie, humpback and blue whales. They replenished their water tanks exclusively from glacier streams, and visited several international scientific bases including the three wardens manning the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust at Port Lockroy.

Initially they headed towards Detaille Island near the southwest end of the Antarctic peninsula, working their way back northeastwards via Flounder Island, Lippmann Island and Anvers Island. From there they headed north to Deception Island in the South Shetlands and through the archipelago to Elephant Island, before sailing back to Ushuaia. They anchored or moored to rocky shores at some delightful sounding places, including Paradise Bay, Grandidier Channel, Flounder Island, Crystal Sound, Mutton Cove, Neptune’s Bellows, Pendulum Cove and Potter Cove. Noël believed that, at 66°52'∙07S, Sadko held the record for the furthest south achieved by an OCC-owned boat.



Graham & Avril Johnson (Dream Away 40’) – for their incredible voyage from Cape Horn to Puerto Montt, a distance of 900 miles up through the Patagonian channels almost all against headwinds. Made over a period of 7 ½ months they estimated they’d covered twice the distance and only motored twice against the winds, the strongest of which reached 70 knots. The voyage is described in wonderful detail (useful as pilotage notes!) in Flying Fish 2007/2.



John Gore-Grimes (Arctic Fern – Najad 44) sailed from Howth, Ireland up as far north as 810 15’N in Spitsbergen (where he and a crewman took a swim!) and return, a distance of 5,055 miles were sailed in 59 days with a crew of 6. The voyage took in the Faeroe Islands, Spitsbergen, through drift ice to Greenland and a place called: Ittoqqortoormiit. From there they headed further south through thick ice and spotted a polar bear standing on a flow, 150 miles offshore. I quote from his write-up:- “ Pressing or pushing through ice is laborious and disheartening. The unimaginative triumph in ice because they cannot see or feel the peril. For many years I ploughed on merrily with about as little care as a tightrope walker on the wire one foot above the ground. We were bold and carefree trespassers. Today, the words horror, panic and dread would come close to describing my involuntary feelings in ice. I have not suddenly become imaginative but I have become more familiar with this erratic and perilous environment. I am seduced by its beauty. I am intimidated by its energy and its potential to do serious damage at very short notice.” Meeting a pod of about fifteen whales before stopping at Reykjavik they stopped at Hiemey in Westmann Islands to climb the world’s newest mountain: Eldfell, created in 1973, before heading for home via the Faeroes and Scotland.



Peter and Katharine Ingram (Kokiri) have been sailing from NZ to Canada in a Pacific 38 over two years but have sailed via the Philippines after the 600 mile passage from Yap, then north through the San Juanico Strait to the Semirara Islands and on to Manila. After the Philippines they headed north to Japan on a passage dominated by strong headwinds and high seas when in the Kuro Shio current. They shipped a lot of water and bore away for Shinkoku to sort themselves out. In Tokyo they stayed for two weeks then the long passage from Japan to the Aleutian Island (Katharines OCC qualifying voyage) – 1700 miles and 15 days including fog, heavy shipping, calms and a gale on the nose. It was cold and there were all sorts of breakages – nothing serious. They also found out Katharine was six weeks pregnant leaving Japan with morning sickness becoming chronic seasickness.

They cruised the Aleutian Islands and on to Alaska finding good shelter in Mist Harbour. A close encounter with a bear followed but they continued north to the Kanai peninsula. After that they hurried down through the islands to make the OCC rally in BC. The final sail across to Vancouver was a memorable one. They had reached their goal – 16,000 miles, eight countries, 16 months, and fewer then two dozen yachts in the last 12months. Two quiet months refitting in Vancouver and then back to the UK for the birth of Robert David George Ingram!



Rev. Bob Shepton (Dodo's Delight) - for his sail to Greenland to climb mountains from the boat with a num- ber of climbers and skiers.  The North Atlantic passage from Scotland to Greenland was the meanest of them all with a deep depression established right in the middle of the Atlantic south of Iceland giving quite a lumpy sea. Much of the sailing was done under trysail rigged to the boom and No. 3 jib and a period of 26 hours hove-to.  They were 18 days on the wind to reach up the Davis Strait to Nuuk where they were met by big icebergs in the cloudy dusk, some making their own mist.  The wind continued in the north as they tried to make their way northwards. It did blow from the south, strongly, on the approach to Kangerdlugssuaq, the 15-mile long fjord just to the north of Kangerdlugssuatsiaq.  There they climbed the scenic but serious mountains either side of the fjord.  Bob made a personal ascent, involving a peak of 1650m, over 30km of distance (some of it loose and difficult), and took 28 hours.  At one stage a huge swell picked Dodo up and threw her onto the gravel beach; fortunately Bob was able to get the engine started quickly, enabling Dodo to slide off into deep water.  They then rounded Kap Alexander, at 78°10'N 73°01'W the most westerly extremity of Greenland, to reach the latitude of Foulke Fjord where they were blasted by consistent katabatic winds of force 7-8.  They were eventually stopped by pack ice at 78°32'N, probably the furthest north that a GRP yacht has ever been in Greenland, and that in Dodo's 25th year and in Bob's 70th year!



Beth Leonard & Evans Starzinger (s/v Hawk)  Beth and her husband, Evans, traded in high-powered careers as management consultants for a life on the high seas. Back in 1992, they were at the pinnacle of their careers and about to be elected partners in the international consulting firm of McKinsey and Company. They took a hard look at their lives and decided they didn’t like the direction they were heading. They were living in Europe, working 60-hour weeks, seeing each other for a few hours on the weekends, earning more money than they could spend and having no time in which to spend it. They wanted to find a way to simplify their lives, interact with other cultures in a positive and constructive way and learn to live life instead of skating over it. Though they had almost no sailing experience, they purchased a 37-foot sailboat sight unseen, moved aboard three months later and set off from Newport to Bermuda on their first offshore passage less than a month after that.

Neptune humbled them on that first passage with 48-hours of storm-force winds and waves that towered over the mizzen mast. For 72 hours, they were so seasick they could keep nothing down, including water. By the time they made it to Bermuda they understood how ill-prepared they were to deal with the realities of handling a small boat at sea. Against all the odds they continued. Over the course of the next three years and 35,000 miles, they completed a voyage around the world that challenged their values, strengthened their relationship and taught them to tread more lightly on the planet. Along the way, they also began to build careers as internationally recognized sailing writers.

Within a few months of returning ashore in 1995 they realized that fitting back into their old lives would mean giving up many of the things their voyage had taught them to value. They determined to set sail once again with the goal of spending several years in some of the most remote and inaccessible areas on the planet. It took them four years to build a 47-foot aluminum sloop capable of taking them anywhere. They set sail again in 1999 and completed a second circumnavigation which took them from Iceland to Cape Horn, under all five of the “Great Southern Capes” and on a 60-day, 9,000 nautical mile, nonstop, eastabout voyage in the Southern Ocean from the Beagle Channel to Perth, Australia. Beth and Evans won the Ocean Cruising Club’s Vasey Vase in 2003 for this passage.



Denise Evans (Dunlin of Wessex) - has made many ambitious voyages, often to high latitudes, in her Tradewind 33, but last year, at the age of 71, she had a crew of two young men, one of whom was later exchanged for a young girl student. They went north from Scotland and broke a chain plate off Norway so had to go into Bodo for repairs. They then went on to Spitzbergen and spent three weeks circumnavigating the island. They encountered a lot of ice and were eventually caught out on a lee shore in a gale in the ice in fog. They held off and on for 24 hours tacking in a lead till they found a way out. They eventually found an anchorage after five days at sea in confined waters.


2001 - Wolfgang Quix


2000 - Willy Ker


1999 - John Gore-Grimes


1998 - Bob Shepton


1997 - Paddy Barry