Bay Area sailor Randall Reeves has been awarded the Cruising Club of America’s (CCA) highest honor, the Blue Water Medal, for his “first-of-its-kind circumnavigation.” Reeves is the first person to complete a Figure 8 circumnavigation of the globe — an almost 40,000-mile voyage, which he completed in just under 13 months. According to a CCA press release, Reeves receives the award for “sailing his 45-foot aluminum cutter, Moli, alone around Antarctica and then through the Northwest Passage in a single season — departing and arriving from San Francisco.”
The successful circumnavigation was Reeves’ second attempt at the Figure 8. His first attempt, which launched in 2017, was scuttled by a few unsavory incidents after which he referred to the voyage as “the longest shakedown cruise in history.” He lost lost both his autopilot and windvane as he was approaching Cape Horn and put in at Ushuaia, Argentina, for repairs. Then, in the Southern Ocean, he endured a knockdown in which he lost a pilothouse window and some electronics. After sailing to Hobart, Tasmania, he made the decision to hit the reset button and restart the Figure 8 anew.
Reeves embarked on Figure 8 version 2 on September 30, 2018, and headed straight to Drake’s Bay, where he waited for wind. It was during this lull that his mind roamed to consider the task ahead. “I was not feeling all that hot. I was scared, afraid and timid while sitting there in Drake’s Bay.” But as the legendary sailor said at his homecoming reception in October 2019, the key was to get going to get on with it. “I’d go from one gale to the next. Then I went through a really bad storm, and I didn’t die …”
It is interesting to note that Reeves bought Moli from Anthony “Tony” Gooch, who won the 2003 Blue Water Medal after executing his singlehanded nonstop circumnavigation from Victoria to Victoria, British Columbia, aboard the then-named Taonui. In the medal’s 97-year history, only one other boat has received it twice — Wanderer III, first with Eric and Susan Hiscock (1955), then with Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson (2011).
Reeves joins a long list of notable sailors including Web Chiles, Jeanne Socrates, Skip Novak, Marvin Creamer and historic luminaries such as Sir Francis Chichester, Bernard Moitessier, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. You can see the full list of past years’ recipients here.
The medal will be presented to Reeves at the CCA Annual Awards ceremony on March 7. This year’s virtual event will also recognize winners of other CCA awards, as well as 2019 Blue Water Medal winner Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who was unable to attend last year’s ceremony.