Young sailor and young journalist of the year crowned at YJA Stoneways Marine Awards Gala Dinner in Southampton

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Fourteen-year-old Katie McCabe stole the show at the YJA Stoneways Marine awards celebration over the weekend winning both Young Sailor of the year and Young Journalist of the Year 2021 Awards.

Presented by double Olympic gold medallist and YJA member Shirley Robertson OBE and Tokyo 2020 sailing gold medallist Stu Bithell, Katie won the young journalist award for her emotional and vividly descriptive blogs of her recently accomplished and record-breaking solo journey around Britain.

Katie McCabe and Murdoch McGregor complete circumnavigations at opposite ends of Britain

The YJA Stoneways Marine Young Sailor of the Year Award was the next to be announced, with images highlighting the achievements of each of the nominees, Katie McCabe, Lucy Kenyon and Millie Irish & Jess Powell.

Katie was again the winner for her recent anticlockwise sail solo round Britain on her 26ft Morgan Giles, Falanda.

Katie McCabe: How I restored a wooden yacht at the age of 13

The young sailor and writer was understandably ecstatic about her historic wins and her story began well before her sail around Britain:

“We’d just come back from a boat festival and went to a yard as I’d been looking for a boat for ages. I found this 71-year-old 26ft Morgan Giles yacht Falanda which was full of fresh water and had been out of the water for ten years and had a couple of rotten planks. I instantly loved the lines of the boat and her long, deep keel.

“We bailed her out, towed her back home, and the following winter I spent the whole time outside of school restoring her. I replaced the rotten planks, which I didn’t know how to do so my dad showed me as he’s a boat builder, then I had to replace the cockpit combings and a couple of bulkheads – lots of work and then all the varnish and paintwork.

“I had the idea of sailing around Britain around two years ago having sailed to the Scilly Isles and back on my own with my parents following. That’s when I thought ‘maybe I can do it’. Then I met fellow young journalist nominee Timothy Long on his way back round Britain and found out then I’d be the youngest person to do it if I did!”

On the double win, and what it might mean for her future sailing, Katie said:

“I didn’t expect to be nominated at all, and I see all these amazing sailors and didn’t realise that anyone would know me. It was really, really cool. After this I’d like to get in to racing and might be considering the Mini Transat one day.”



The YJA Stoneways Marine Yachtsman of the Year 2021

It was then time to announce the final award of the evening, the YJA Stoneways Marine Yachtsman of the Year 2021. This famous trophy was initiated in 1955 by the late Sir Max Aitken, a Battle of Britain Spitfire Pilot and Chairman of Express newspapers.

The audience enjoyed an overview of the incredible achievements of the three shortlisted nominees: Hannah Mills, Pip Hare and The Team GB Olympic Sailing Squad – Tokyo 2020.

Then the 2019 YOTY winner, Lucy MacGregor, was called upon to present the award to Pip Hare.

Regrettably Pip was unable to attend the ceremony and the famous trophy was collected on her behalf by her delighted Technical Director Joff Brown and Pip’s Operations Director Lou Adams.

Pip is the Vendée Globe star who captured all our attention over the winter with her incredible sailing in the famous non-stop, solo around the world race, her first Vendée, and all the time communicating the adventure in powerful detail to an ever-growing fan base.

Pip recorded a special video message in advance of the ceremony and, on hearing that she’d won the YJA Stoneways Marine Yachtsman of the Year, said:

“Wow! I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in the sailing world because there is no kind of accepted performance pathway into solo sailing in the UK – you’ve got to go off and do it on your own and make it all happen. To receive this award is the validity that I really wasn’t expecting.

“I’m really pleased a wider audience engaged with the Vendée Globe because it’s an incredible event on many levels and is so much more than just a sailing event. It’s a proper, hardcore, endurance event and is special for so many reasons. Having that platform to share our stories during the winter was important, and I hope the traction sailing gained continues and it helps the sport grow.”

Remembering…

The Yachting Journalists’ Association has lost some great names in the past year and a tribute was shown remembering those who have recently ‘Crossed the bar’. The tribute to John Goode, YJA Treasurer Mike Ford, Bob Satchwell, David Pelly, Dag Pike and ‘Mr America’s Cup’ Bob Fisher.

Clifford Webb, Chairman of the Yachting Journalists’ Association, was elated by the success of the evening and thanked Stoneways Marine who stepped up to sponsor the Gala Dinner and Awards, saying:

“It’s been a wonderful evening of celebration. Everyone has enjoyed it, we’ve had some marvellous sponsorship, we’ve had three Tokyo 2020 gold medallists here – what an incredible celebration of British sailing this has been. Absolutely delighted.

“It’s been amazing to see the young generation, both the journalists and the sailors, the present generation of sailors and all together with the sailors who are literally legends of the sport.”

A delighted Keith Lovett of Stoneways Marine, who is himself a YJA member, made particular note of the incredible array of sailing talent and yachting legends attending, saying:

“We feel privileged to be involved with yachting’s pinnacle awards event. It was another night to remember.

“The Yachting Journalists’ Association’s aim is to promote greater awareness of all aspects of leisure boating through the services offered by its members.


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