It was a night of accolades and dancing at the annual awards dinner of the 37th annual conference of the American Sail Training Association. One hundred and thirty people attended the awards dinnerFriday, November 7th, to honor those exceptional programs and people that have made such a difference in so many lives. The nominees were those recognized by their peers as being noteworthy in an industry full of noteworthy people and programs. The 2009 Sail Training Award winners are truly outstanding.
The first award presented was the Perry Bowl which is awarded to the top finishing ASTA member vessel in the 2009 TALL SHIPS® ATLANTIC CHALLENGE race from Charleston, SC to Boston, MA. This year’s winner is the Bark Europa of the Netherlands and the award was accepted by Reinoud van der Heijeden, Director.
Next presented was Port of the Year which is awarded to a city/municipality which demonstrates significant support of ASTA, is an ASTA Member Organization, or furthers public recognition of sail training. This year’s winner was Boston, MA and was accepted by a stunned David Choate of Conventures, Inc. The Sail Boston event was mired with difficulties but the award reflects the host port’s perseverance to overcome these obstacles and still put on an event that was visited by 3.1 million people and received praise from the vessels that attended.
Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Claudia Bankert, ASTA International Ship Liaison. This award goes to a current member who significantly advances ASTA’s overall mission. “My service to the cause is a joy, because I get to do what I love and what I’m passionate about. Hopefully, I can make a small difference and I am thankful to you for making me part of the effort,” said Claudia.
Representatives of Arctic Schooner Bowdoin of Maine Maritime Academy came up on stage to accept the Sail Training Program of the Year. This award goes to a current member program which significantly contributes to the development of seamanship, navigation skills, teamwork, and leadership skills. Through their program, the 80 year old, wooden, two-masted schooner makes regular trips to the Arctic Circle with a crew of students from the college’s Small Vessel Operations program.
Next, Drew McMullen, President of Sultana Projects accepted the award for Sea Education Program of the Year which honors the program that significantly contributes to the educational credibility of programs under sail. Since 2001, Sultana Projects’ under-sail programs on SULTANA have introduced more than 45,000 students in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia to the history and environment of the Chesapeake Bay. “Sultana Projects was chosen by an overwhelming majority of the selection committee,” commented ASTA Director of Operations Lori Aguiar. “Their programs rank among the best in North America and the award is very well deserved.”
This year, Meghan Wren, of Bayshore Discovery Project and A.J. Meerwald, received the Sail Trainer of the Year Award. This award goes to a member who makes a significant contribution to the field of sail training through the demonstration of leadership y means of empowerment and inspiration. Accepting the award on her behalf was Captain Jonathan Boulware, one of the first captains for the A.J. Meerwald.
Finally, the last award of the night was the Lifetime Achievement presented to an individual who has dedicated his/her life’s work to getting people to sea under sail and who has worked to preserve the traditions and skills of sail training. This year’s recipient was Captain J.B. Smith. Alix Thorne of Ocean Classroom Foundation presented the award to him and showed a photo retrospective of Captain Smith’s life at sea.
After the applause and the photos, the BackBeats, a Beatles tribute band, took to the stage and conference attendees took to the dance floor. The winners basked in the heady glow of being recognized as exceptional within the sail training industry and, once again, the gala dinner and awards night was an event to remember.