In the slowest year since 2011, with the last boat still at sea as we go to press – with nearly 100 miles yet to go – the ARC Caribbean 1500 prizegiving last night was more of a milestone than a final ceremony.

“I usually end this evening thanking everyone and scurrying off to bed!” said event manager Andy Schell at the conclusion of the awards. “But we’ve got four boats coming in tonight, so we’ll be on the docks with the cold rum punch until the last boat is tied up!”

Despite several boats still at sea when the awards got underway, it was a very festive atmosphere on the beachside deck at Nanny Cay Marina. Crews that had been sweaty and salty for nearly two weeks at sea showed up in their shoreside best, with matching crew shirts and tropical island colors. After the crowd gathered round the bar for a quick beer or rum punch, the awards got going in earnest just before 5pm, as the sun was disappearing behind the hillsides in the west, offering up a much needed respite from the brutal afternoon heat.

“Hoooorayy!” shouted the crowd, as just in time, Aviva made their way into the cut and into Nanny Cay Marina with the largest audience of any of the arrivals thus far. “There is indeed something about being one of the last boats to arrive,” said Dorothy of Aviva. “That was really special having everyone cheer for us like that!” Dorothy, Fred and crew made it up to the beach just in time to see the awards get underway.

As we always do at the 1500, we emphasize the fun and special prizes over the competitive awards, and the ceremony kicked off as such with prizes for Best Mustache, Best Logs, Best Fishing Story (won by Serenity for their very timely bribe of 4 pounds of fresh mahi for the Yellowshirts lunches!), Youngest Skipper and more. 

Both the Mustach Award and the Best Bruise Award required audience participation. Three of the lady sailors came on stage to show off their best bruises, whereby the crowd cheered for a winner. It was no contest, as Cricket from Corsair easily garnered the biggest applause when she dropped her shorts right on stage and showed off a palm-sized bruise on her rip hip.

There were even more contestants for the Mustache Award. Rowena from the local BVI Movember (“Mustache November”) chapter was invited on stage to introduce Movember and start the competition.

“Each year the BVI participates in Movember to raise money for men’s health issues, namely prostate cancer,” she began. “Last year we raised a total of over $24,000, which goes directly to a few locals that are afflicted with the disease and require ongoing care. So thank you all very much for participating in what is a very fun, very important initiative for us in the BVI.

Despite arriving late to the contest and nearly missing the chance to show off his ‘stache (and this after he’d been complaining about how uncomfortable it had become), Levent from Adagio easily took the loudest applause and won a goody bag of Movember branded t-shirts and beer cozies. All the men who participated, included Rally staff Andy & Jake, lined up on the beach for a group mustache photo.

Lucky Strike, ironically considering their name, received the #13 banner that nobody seemed to want back in Portsmouth. Because of a very sick crewmember, they were forced to divert to Puerto Rico for medical help (he’s fine now, recovering in Michigan). Each crew at the party last night signed the banner in honor of Fred and is crew, and it will be mailed off to Lucky Strike next week, a reminder that despite their diversion, they were not alone.

Each boat also received a custom engraved plaque from Weems & Plath for participating in the rally, and was recognized on stage for finishing the event.

“You’re all winners to us!” exclaimed yellowshirt Mia from the stage, who was busy taking photos of each crew as they accepted their awards.

Later in the evening the competitive awards were distributed, with Avanti, Opportunity & Southern Cross taking home first place for Classes A, B and Multihulls respectively. Opportunity, despite taking 12 days to finish the course, is only starting on their longer journey. From the Caribbean, they are bound for the Panama Canal and the Pacific, and are in the process of taking the boat Down Under to Australia.

Before the night was out, the biggest awards were given, starting with a new perpetual trophy for 2014. Miles Poor, of rally sponsor MRP Refits, was called on stage to describe the new Hal Sutphen Seamanship Trophy, which, alongside the Tempest Trophy for Spirit of the Rally, will remain in Nanny Cay.

“Hal, along with rally founder Steve Black, was integral in promoting proper seamanship,” Miles began, “which starts long before you ever head to sea. When Hal died, his wife suggested we make an award in his honor, so we started with this silver cup in 2006. It will go to the yacht that sets the best example of seamanship in the rally.”

Though they weren’t present to accept it (they were still at sea), La Madeline took the honor for their incredibly detailed prepartions back in Portsmouth. Both safety inspectors Lyall Burgess and Peter Burch agreed that they were far and away the most well prepared. Each crewmember, in turn, had done live MOB drills, and they had detailed diagrams of each stowage space on the boat, fantastic use of safety equipment and more. They set the bar high for the safety checks in rallies to come.

Avanti was then called back on the stage to accept the Steve Black Trophy for winning the Overall Cruising Division, correcting ahead of all Class A and B yachts. The award was a little more meaningful this year, both because it’s the 25th running of the rally, but also because Steve Black passed away in February. The award has always bared his name, as Steve was a keen racing sailor in his heyday, and loved the friendly competition of the rally.

Finally, Avanti remained on stage to present the Tempest Trophy for Spirit of the Rally, as winner of it themselves in 2012 for guiding several yachts through a severe lightning storm in the Gulf Stream. 2014 was a fairly mild year weather wise, and an uneventful one at sea, with no boats really requiring the assistance of another. That being the case, the Tempest Trophy this year was awarded to Corsair, for their general enthusiasm since Day 1 in Portsmouth.

“On the first Monday in Portsmouth, when everyone else was tearing their boats apart to get ready to put to sea, I found Tom and his crew sitting in the cockpit listening to music and drinking wine,” said Andy Schell. “These guys were on it from the start. They were ready to go a month ahead of time, went to every function, were always smiling, and just set the best example of what it takes to participate in this event. They are very deserving of the award.”

Corsair’s name will be engraved on the Tempest Trophy beneath Avanti and Moonshadow’s from the previous two years, and it will remain in Peg Leg’s restaurant until next year. 

As of Sunday morning, only 2 yachts remained at sea, and are expected to arrive today and tomorrow (La Madeline and Amphitrite). Earlier this morning, Moonshadow, Chanticleer and Mystic Shadow arrived into Nanny Cay, with the dogs Maya and Rex on Mystic Shadow easily the happiest to be here. There will be a late-arrivals dinner on Monday night at the beach, where their awards will be distributed. That will officially mark the close of the 25th Caribbean 1500.

For the full results of each competitive class, click here.

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