By Deborah Bennett Elfers September 19, 2015 Marion, MA -

On the third day of their return voyage to North America, following their participation in the 2015 Marion Bermuda Race, the captain and crew of the yacht “Sparky” rescued five crew members from the foundering yacht “Restive.” At a ceremony last evening at Marion’s Beverly Yacht Club, Rob McAlpine, Sparky’s Skipper, was awarded the Robert N. Bavier, Jr. Seamanship-Sportmanship Trophy, in recognition of this dramatic rescue at sea. Alan McLean, the races Director along with Larry Hall, Commodore of the Beverly Yacht Club, and Mark Gabrielson, Blue water Sailing Club’s Commodore, were in attendance, along with the crews of Sparky and Restive, and other distinguished guests.

The Bavier trophy was established in the late 1970s, and can be awarded to “any registered yacht at the discretion of the MBCYRA Trustees in recognition of truly outstanding seamanship or sportsmanship, independent of a yacht’s finishing position.” It is important to note that the trophy has only been awarded 5 times in the Race’s long history. Presenter and Race Executive Director Alan McLean noted that the few times this trophy has been awarded, it has traditionally been awarded in Bermuda, upon completion of the race. This year, the Trustees unanimously agreed to present the award in Marion, in recognition of the rescue, which occurred on the way back from Bermuda to North America. The trophy, a beautiful replica of a vintage lifeboat compass, seems especially fitting as recognition for the rescue undertaken by Sparky and her crew.

Upon receiving the award, Rob McAlpine thanked the Trustees, and also George Denny and his crew for being such “good houseguests” following the rescue. He added that the seamanship of the skipper and crew of Restive made their job much easier. George Denny, skipper of Restive, joined McAlpine at the podium and told those gathered of how Sparky’s crew practiced the approach in very challenging conditions before making the actual rescue, and that the crew’s collective seamanship was outstanding. As an aside, Denny shared with the crowd that not only had McAlpine rescued them at sea, but that he had also fixed Restive’s “head” while she was safely moored in Bermuda before the voyage home. “What more could you ask for in a sailor?” he said, as the crowd applauded.

The Marion Bermuda Race Since its inception in 1977, the Marion-Bermuda Race has been a Corinthian event, and yachts are accepted by invitation. The spirit of the race is that all yachts and crew are participating for the joy and pleasure of sailing, competition, and the camaraderie that accompanies such an offshore event. The race provides an opportunity for cruising yachts and amateur crews to participate in an ocean race and a rendezvous in Bermuda. It encourages the development of blue water sailing skills on seaworthy yachts that can be handled safely offshore with limited crew.

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