"There is probably no place in Cuxhaven where more nautical miles are gathered than right here," Bert Frisch said at the beginning of his laudation. That was an understatement. There is almost certainly no club evening in the country where members with more traffic celebrate the end of the season.
Eight (!) Crews who sail under the stand of the Trans-Ocean Association were honored with the circumnavigation price on Saturday in the Hapag halls. That in itself was outstanding - and made for a long and humorous program.
The Trans-Ocean Prize, the highest honor, was also awarded for a circumnavigation of the world. And what a! The impressive trophy, crowned by a stylized globe, went to the Polish single-handed sailor JoannPajkowska. It started in Plymouth in 2018, had passed all the major capes from west to east and was back on May 28 after just 216 days without stopping. An absolutely exceptional achievement.
The petite and energetic 59-year-old had borrowed the boat from Uwe Röttgering - the 40-foot aluminum yacht "FanFan" with the who himself had circled the earth solo in the early 2000s.
Pajkowsklets, however, cannot be reduced to the one great deed. She already has more than 200,000 nautical miles in the wake, many in tough areas, most of them one-handed or with a small crew. Her husband, who accompanied her to the festive evening in Cuxhaven, says of himself: "I am only a fellow sailor. I would never go on such extreme trips as my wife."
Because the association sees itself not only as a center of long-distance sailing, but also as a promoter of ocean sports, the winner of the Ocean Award was deservedly chosen by Morten Brandt-Rasmussen. The Dane invented the Silverrudder seven years ago, the solo race around Funen, which quickly developed into the largest one-handed regatta in the world - with more than 400 registered yachts. Three years ago he designed another event with the Vegvisir Race, this time for one- and two-handed crews, which is developing extremely successfully, and even more dynamic than the Silver Rudder in terms of the number of participants.
The jury justified the choice for the Ocean Award with the "broad impact that comes from the races". Brandt-Rasmussen has encouraged hundreds of cruising sailors "to switch to regatta mode" and to sail long distances alone or in pairs. At the award ceremony, Brandt-Rasmussen named the regattas' everybody character as an important success factor. "We tried to break down as many barriers as possible: something like measurement letters or knowledge of the rules." He was deeply impressed by the work of the TO and by the festive evening itself: "It's great to see how much recognition and inspiration offshore sailors get here!"
In fact, things came full circle in Cuxhaven. Two other award winners, Sabine and Udo Schallenberg, who were honored for their successful participation in the Azores and Back race (Azab), caught fire for long-distance regattas with a small crew at the Silverrudder. Wolfgang Quix, the grand master of German deep sea sports, played no small role as a mentor. The 82-year-old, the first German participant in the Mini-Transat in 1977, received honorary membership in Cuxhaven.
And then there is a change of guard to announce. Martin Birkhoff leaves the bridge of the club, which he has led with great care out of choppy seas into calmer water over five years. He wants to start again with his wife Anke: "First to the west, and then we'll see where we're going." In his place, Peter Wiedekamm will head Trans-Ocean in the future.