Katie McCabe and Pip Hare recognised at YJA Stoneways Marine Awards

Katie McCabe was the recipient of two yachting awards at this year’s YJA Stoneways Marine Awards gala dinner. McCabe wrote emotional and vividly descriptive blogs of her recently accomplished and record-breaking solo journey around Britain.

This adventure, coupled with her reporting, bagged her Young Journalist of the Year (presented by Tokyo 2020 49er gold medallist Stu Bithell) and also the Young Sailor of the Year award for her anticlockwise solo sail around Britain on her 26ft Morgan Giles, Falanda.

“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,” says McCabe. “It was really, really cool. After this I’d like to get in to racing and might be considering the Mini Transat one day.”

She says she had been looking for a boat for ages to undertake an expedition.

“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 26’ 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.”

Nominated for Yachtsman of the Year 2021 were Hannah Mills, Pip Hare and the Team GB Olympic Sailing Squad – Tokyo 2020. This famous trophy was initiated in 1955 by the late Sir Max Aitken, a Battle of Britain Spitfire Pilot and chairman of Express newspapers.

Winner Pip Hare was unable to attend the ceremony and the trophy was collected on her behalf by her delighted technical director, Joff Brown, and Hare’s operations director, Lou Adams.

Hare rose to national attention in the Vendée Globe, all the time communicating the adventure in powerful detail to an ever-growing fan base. She recorded a special video message in advance of the ceremony on hearing that she’d won the YJA Stoneways Marine Yachtsman of the Year.

“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,” says Hare.

“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.”

Hare was full of praise for her fellow shortlisted sailors.

“Our Olympians are amazing, and we regularly produce the most incredible sailors. What Hannah has achieved is unrivalled – it’s amazing and I really enjoyed watching the Olympic sailing this summer and to be shortlisted amongst these great sailors was an incredible honour, and then to actually win the award was unexpected.”

Hare also has a message for all aspiring sailors.

“I am 47 years old – don’t ever believe that it’s out of your grasp. Just keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. One of things I love about sailing that I think we don’t always acknowledge is that it’s one of the most diverse sports out there. There is a kind of sailing for all people, regardless of age, background, gender, or ability. Sailing is so adaptable as a sport and offers so much to so many people and there isn’t one right way to do any one thing. Anyone, anywhere can benefit enormously from getting on the water.”

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