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OCC’s 2020 Jester Award Goes to Jack van Ommen

Jack van Ommen has been named as the Ocean Cruising Club’s 2020 Jester Award recipient. Judged by a panel of experienced ocean sailors, the award acknowledges Jack’s years-long journey to circumnavigate the globe before his 80th birthday.

This map shows Jack’s route and the years during which he traversed the oceans.
© 2021 Jack van Ommen

The judges were “extremely impressed” by the sailor’s 12-year solo adventure — his nomination stated, “Jack van Ommen is a true single-handed small boat (30’) adventurer and I consider his circumnavigation and also his present-day cruises certainly as noteworthy. Moreover, they are also an inspiration for aspiring yachtsmen of all ages to undertake long-distance sailing in small boats. By writing extensively and in a candid way about his cruises he offers a wealth of experience, enthusing readers to visit and connect with distant places under sail.”

OCC burgee
Jack got his first OCC burgee during an event on the Beaulieu River, The Solent, England.
© 2021 Jack van Ommen

Those of you familiar with Jack’s blog will know that he has endured two shipwrecks, the first of which left him boatless on the island of Tagomago, near Ibiza. His replacement vessel was a 30-ft Naja, a duplicate of his first, and which ultimately bore the same name, Fleetwood. Fortunately the second shipwreck was not as complete as the first. Fleetwood was rebuildable, and two years after running aground on Mink Island, VA, Jack was able to continue his voyage.

Jester Award medal
Jack joins a long list of worthy recipients including 2012’s Matt Rutherford.
© 2021 Ocean Cruising Club

The Jester Award, named after Blondie Hasler’s Folkboat Jester, recognizes a noteworthy singlehanded voyage or series of voyages made in a small vessel.

Ocean Cruising Club members can be found across all oceans: “Members understand what it means to be at sea, to be completely reliant on our own skills, to be subject to the whims of Mother Nature, to be humbled and empowered at one and the same time. This is what sets us apart from other organizations, even as it draws us together as a group.”



  1. Susan Kovacs 3 years ago

    Jack Van Ommen deserves every possible praise as the recipient of this award. He is a highly skilled seafarer and an amazing human being. I am proud to call him my good friend. Congratulations amigo!

  2. Joni Dennis 3 years ago

    Jack is one amazing person! I am honored to know him. He sees every little detail that he encounters and allows each one to shape his world.

  3. Kelvin D. Meeks 3 years ago

    I have followed Jack’s sailing adventures from some time – and had the fortunate opportunity to meet him in October 2016 when he stopped off in Santa Barbara – on one leg of his voyage. After treating him to dinner at a restaurant in the harbor, I was able to purchase a copy his book SoloMan from him, and he was very gracious to sign my copy. A very nice addition to any sailor’s library.

  4. Memo Gidley 3 years ago

    Wow! What an inspirational journey and sounds like a great man!

  5. Phil Robson 2 years ago

    I had lunch with Jack 3 days ago at a marina near Amsterdam where he is preparing his new “Fleetwood “ for a return voyage to USA next year. He seems well. And is always ready for a new challenge.

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