Gavin Reid, who's profoundly deaf, was honoured with the prestigious Yachtsman of the Year Award for his seamanship and act of courage for rescuing a man during the Clipper Race 2015-16

Amateur sailor Gavin Reid, 28, beat Rio 2016 Gold Medalist Giles Scott and Brian Thompson, Round the Island Race Record Holder and bagged the coveted Yachtsman of the Year Award. He was presented with his award at the London Boat Show.

Reid was awarded the prestigious yearly accolade in recognition of his heroic act of seamanship whilst competing as a crew member in the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race.

On January 5, 2016, the 28-year-old, who had no sailing experience before he embarked on the Clipper Race, was racing from Sydney to the Whitsundays with his team aboard the yacht Mission Performance when an SOS was picked up off the New South Wales coast of Australia from a non-Clipper Race yacht, returning from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which had a crewman stuck at the top of the mast. His four crew members were too ill to help.

Reid volunteered to swim between the two yachts, hoisted himself up the swinging mast and spent two hours untangling lines until the crewman was freed. Gavin then proceeded to lower the man down the mast. 

After he was presented with the award by last year’s winner, Ian Walker MBE, Gavin said: “To be named 2016 JYA Yachtsman of The Year over some of my absolute heroes of the sport, feels like an incredible honour.

“If someone had told me 18 months ago when I was starting my training for the Clipper Race that I would be here today collecting this award, I couldn’t have believed it. I have learned and experienced a huge amount and hope I can inspire others to take up the challenge of ocean racing. It’s been a fantastic adventure.”

Gavin Reid at the London Boat Show 2017

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman and former Yachtsman of the Year Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “Gavin impressed tremendously during his time on the Clipper Race. For a young man who had never sailed before he started our training, Gavin showed great commitment and never let his inexperience hold him back. He quickly developed excellent sailing skills under the guidance of his Skipper, and early on was selected to be a Watch Leader. 

“The Clipper Race is highly competitive but faced with any situation where a fellow sailor on another boat was in serious trouble the crew of Mission Performance, who are fully trained with a safety first mentality, upheld the tradition of the sea that you do not hesitate to go to the assistance of another sailor in distress, setting an excellent example of seamanship which is a crucial attribute for all good ocean racing sailors.

“This is the pinnacle of British sailing awards and amongst the most prestigious accolades in the sailing world. I’m very proud of Gavin and the entire crew.”

This is not the first award Reid has won. He’s also the recipient of the Henri Lloyd Seamanship award at the Clipper Race Finish in London last summer, the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) Outstanding Seamanship Award, and he was also recognised at the 2016 Australian Sailing Awards.

The Clipper Race has proved life-changing for the 28 year old. He quit his job as a Supply Chain Coordinator to take part in the year-long event, found love with a fellow crew member and he now wants to pursue a career in sailing.

Watch Gavin Reid being presented with the Yachtsman of the Year Award on YBW’s Facebook