Best Boating Journalism Gains Annual Awards

Boating and fishing journalists, photographers and videographers were recognized at the start of the 2019 Miami International Boat Show in an annual awards program conducted by the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI). Presentations in 16 contest categories representing $16,000 in awards were made to first ($500), second ($300) and third ($200) place scorers. Cash award recipients also received a recognition plaque noting their “Excellence in creating compelling stories about the boating lifestyle through entertaining, educational and inspiring journalism.”

The BWI Writing Awards, presented for 26 years, attracted 119 participants submitting 343 entries. In addition to cash awards, 47 Certificates of Merit were presented to other entrants who scored within 95 percent of third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2018. Each of the categories (noted below along with sponsors) was judged by four active journalists in the first few weeks of the New Year. Links to the top three entries in each category are provided. Results:

The Business of Boating – sponsored by Evinrude

First, “Wanted: New Boaters” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade Only, April); Second, “What Women Want in Boating” by Fiona McGlynn (BoatU.S. Magazine, Oct.); Third, “True Original” by Bill Pike (Outboard, Oct.). Haynes’ article, “Did more than merely report business news but delved into different aspects of the issues facing our industry, included numerous expert viewpoints, considered possible solutions, and managed to remain entertaining and interesting all at the same time,” said judge Lenny Rudow. Certificate of Merit: “Boating’s New Gold Rush” by Michael Verdon (Soundings Trade Only, Oct.).

Boating Photography – sponsored by Freedom Boat Club

1st, “A Last, Best Place” by Jessica Haydahl Richardson (Anglers Journal, Jan.); 2nd, “Cuba Lighthouse” by Zuzana Prochazka (Sail, Oct.); 3rd, “Running Downwind” by Craig Ligibel (Afloat Magazine, Jan.). Judge Reagan Haynes said the top award offered “The contrast and composition of beautiful scenery, human faces, fish, fishing, and food. These kinds of spreads take a lot of thought, planning, and work to create the right composition, lighting, and visual interest.” Merit Award to “From Parts to Pontooning” by Brady Kay (Pontoon & Deck Boat Magazine, March).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group

1st, “The Last Wave” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Sept.); 2nd, “Searching for Guo” by Ronnie Simpson (Cruising World, Feb.); 3rd, “Fast to the Finish” by Simon Murray (Outboard, Sept.). Judge Bob Arrington described the first choice as, “A pulse-pounding story of survival that reminds us that adventures, even for seasoned bluewater sailors, always come with life-threatening risk. The writer successfully draws the reader onboard during a harrowing experience with a brave globe-trotting couple.” Merit Awards to “The Rata of Seville” by Ed Zacko (Good Old Boat, Sept.); “An Ida May Day” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, May); “The 700-Mile Corner” by Webb Chiles (Cruising World, Sept.); “Aleutian Summer” by Kate Laird (Sail, May).

Boating Videos – sponsored by Boat Owners Association of the U.S.

1st, “Tige ZX1: Boat Review” by Kim Koditek (, Nov. 30); 2nd, “Drones Measure Health of Magothy River” by Cheryl Costello (Chesapeake Bay Video, Nov. 27); 3rd, “Crab Cup Highlights Accessible Sailing on the Bay” by Cheryl Costello (Chesapeake Bay Video, Aug. 21). Judge Tony Esposito said the Tige review, “Combined a good visual depiction of the boat with some dynamic demonstrations of how the boat is actually used. Good information presented in an engaging fashion with high production values.” Merit Certificates to: “Dock Your Twin Outboard” by Paul Cronin (BoatUS Video, April 13); “Cape Horn 27 Review” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Video, March 11).

Technical Writing – sponsored by Dometic Marine

1st, “Fit and Fueled” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, April); 2nd, “Back in the Saddle” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, March); 3rd, “Love Me Tender” by Norris Comer (Northwest Yachting, March). “Fit and Fueled is well written and impeccably researched. This article is a must-read for all boaters who rely on their trusty diesel engines,” offered judge Peter Nielsen.

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation

1st, “Alaska Unfiltered” by Greg Thomas (Anglers Journal, Jan.); 2nd, “Last of Its Kind” by Lenny Rudow (Anglers Journal, Oct.); 3rd, “Calculus of Fluke” by Zach Harvey (Anglers Journal, July). Says judge Pete McDonald, “The memoir of a youth spent in Alaska deftly weaves the experiences of fishing for one’s livelihood and for fun in every angler’s dream destination. It brings to mind the enthusiasm of youth, and how going from being employed to unemployed and back again should never crush your passion for adventure.” Merit Awards: “Weed Science” by Jim Hendricks (Sport Fishing, Jan.); “You Can Go Back Again” by Alan Jones (Boating World, Sept.); “Casting for Recovery” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, May); and “Supershark” by Vincent Daniello (Sport Fishing, April).

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by The Moorings

1st, “A Fever for South Georgia” by Thies Matzen (Cruising World, Dec.); 2nd, “You’ll Want to See This” by Jody Argo Schroath (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); 3rd, “Northern Exposure” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, May). Of the first award judge Alan Jones said, “This enthralling tale of two winters and three summers spent exploring Antarctic waters is poetry disguised as prose.” Merit Awards: “A Different Kind of Cruising” by Nigel Calder (Sail, June); “That Cuban Mystique” by Jennifer Brett (Cruising World, July); “Palau: An Unexpected Paradise” by Heather Francis (Cruising World, Oct.); “Favorite Harbors of the Great Lakes” by Niels Jensen (BoatU.S. Magazine, Aug.); “Going With the Flow of Time” by Bernadette Bernon (BoatU.S. Magazine, Dec.).

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine

1st, “Lefty” by Gary Reich (Anglers Journal, Jan.); 2nd, “Cat Man” by Sam Fortescue (Multihull Sailor, Oct.); 3rd, “Roscioli Paints Career Path of Innovation, Inspiration” by Dorie Cox (The Triton, Sept.). “Now that’s a profile, and I don’t even fish! Sounds like a great guy!” exclaimed judge Adam Cort about “Lefty.” Merit Awards: “An Artist’s Eye” by Rich Armstrong (BoatU.S. Magazine, Feb.); “The Maker” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); “Risen from the Ashes” by Dieter Loibner (Sail, April); “It’s Showtime” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, Nov.); “The Maine Difference” by Daniel Harding (Power & Motoryacht, June); “Postgame” by Frank Saccente (Anglers Journal, April); “Deep Water Man” by Stephen Blakely (Fine Books & Collections, Autumn).

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine

1st, “ACLU Joins Boater’s Case Against Suspicion-less On-Water Searches” by Kim Kavin (Soundings, July); 2nd, “Future Shock” by Bill Pike (Power & Motoryacht, Oct.); 3rd, “Why I Hate Sea Lions” by Jim Hendricks (Boating, Jan.). Says judge Kelly Flory, “Kavin draws you in with an intriguing lead, then skillfully guides you through the complex legal battle one boater has faced in defending personal liberty … it was humanized by the framing and strategic use of quotes.” Merit Awards to “Living in Violation” by Diane Selkirk (Pacific Yachting, Oct.); “Hidden, Deadly Dangers in Marina Waters” by Eric Colby (Soundings Trade Only, May); “The Ethanol Alternative” by Charles Fort (BoatU.S. Magazine, Aug.); and “Driven by Design” by Chris Caswell (Power & Motoryacht, Aug.).

Environmental Awareness & Education – sponsored by Torqeedo, Inc.

1st, “The Count” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, June); 2nd, “Slowing Atlantic ‘Conveyor Belt’ Will Bring Rising Sea Levels” by Kim Kavin (Soundings, Aug.); 3rd, “All Washed Up” by Craig Ritchie (Boating New Zealand, Oct.). “LeGrand puts us on the water and right in the middle of one of the most fascinating and complicated U.S. fisheries management issues. This review of the plight of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab offers a fair and in-depth look at the day-to-day challenges faced by fisheries programs around the country,” offers judge Darrell Nicholson. Merit Certificates: “Wayne Gilchrest Then and Now” by Nancy Taylor Robson (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); and “Volvo Ocean Racers Test the Waters” by Cynthia Houston (Spin Sheet Magazine, July).

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta

1st, “Bigger Faster Stronger” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings, Oct.); 2nd, “Whaler Montauk 170” by John Page Williams (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); 3rd, “Buddy Davis 42CC” by Pete McDonald (Sport Fishing, Jan.).  Said judge John Wooldridge, “Identifying and explaining an emerging class of boats can be challenging, but Van Hemmen draws on multiple sources of information and hands-on experience, blended with well-honed writing skills, to craft a balanced, informative, entertaining feature.” Merit Awards to: “65 Feet and an Army of Horses” by Dan Harding (Outboard Magazine, Nov.); and “MJM Yachts 35Z” by Kevin Falvey (Boating, Oct.).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.

1st, “Between Fish” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “On the Wind” by Chris Caswell (Sailing); 3rd, “Uncharted Waters” by Bill Pike (Power & Motoryacht). Judge Charlie Levine said the first-place entry “Uses vivid language and a reminiscent tone of voice that captures the magic and joy of time spent on the water pursing a love of fish. These columns combine a nostalgic look back at how these pursuits have shaped the author as a person.” Merit Certificate to “Editor’s Letter” by Alan Jones (Boating World).

Seamanship, Rescue & Safety – sponsored by Sea Tow Services International

1st, “Back to School” by Simon Murray (Power & Motoryacht, May); 2nd, “Crossing the Big Blue” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Sept.); 3rd, “Confronting Calamity” by David Schmidt (Yachting, March). “From the lead sentence, Murray captured the reader’s attention, and held it throughout this well-written article. He writes with a seemingly effortless style for easy reading with personal anecdotes that helped drive home the message,” offered judge Jim Rhodes. Merit Awards: “Rudder Failure” by Robin Urquhart (Sail, March); “Sea Tow Rescue Heroes” by Pete McDonald (Boating, May); “Rushing to the Rescue” by Chris Caswell (Dockwalk, May).

Gear, Electronics & Product Tests – sponsored by Xantrex/Schneider Electric

1st, “Snap Hooks Under the Scope” by Drew Frye (Practical Sailor, March); 2nd, “Tackle Myths, Debunked” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Magazine, Nov.); 3rd, “Scream Machines” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, June). Judge Tom Serio says of the winning entry, “A tremendous amount of research must have gone into this story, as it is chock-full of information for anyone who uses snap hooks. The author started with a situation, explained what happened, introduced and compared products, and offered a recommendation. Nice work!” Merit Awards to: “Drag Queens” by Adam Cort (Sail, May); “Crew Overboard” by Jennifer Brett (Cruising World, Dec.); “Expertly Equipped” by David Schmidt (Yachting, March).

Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating

1st, “Floating Time” by Craig Moodie (Good Old Boat, Aug.); 2nd, “Flotilla Freedom” by Norris Comer (Northwest Yachting, Sept.); 3rd, “Cocktail Class Family Racing” by Ann Eichenmuller (Chesapeake Bay, June). Says judge Betsy Haggerty of the first place piece, “In this beautifully written short essay, the author’s vivid poetic description captures the quiet magic of spending an afternoon floating on a calm sea in a small boat that never leaves its mooring.” Certificates of Merit: “The Special, Please” by Jan Hein (All at Sea, June); “An Ode to the Shallows” by Jim Papa (BoatU.S. Magazine, Aug.); “A Matter of Time” by Jeanne Craig (Outboard Magazine, Nov.); “When Mar-a-Lago Went to Sea” by Janet Groene (Explore Magazine/Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, June); “Sailing a Piece of History” by Craig Ligibel (Sailing, May).

Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits – sponsored by Evinrude

1st, “Tempest Temptations” by Gary Goodlander (Cruising World, Jan.); 2nd, “The ABCs of OCP” by Nigel Calder (Professional BoatBuilder, Oct.); 3rd, “Trailer Lovin’ Care” by Chris Caswell (Boating World, Nov.). Of Temptations, judge Dieter Loibner said, “Delightful, gratifying and educational. This piece entertains and informs while presenting a strong case for reusing what others discarded – all with a good dose of humor and caution.” Merit Awards: “Battling with Ball Valves” by Ed Zacko (Good Old Boat, Jan.); “Restoring a Beacon of Hope” by Kim Kavin (Soundings, Jan.); “A Slight Inconvenience” by Cliff Steele (BoatU.S. Magazine, Dec.).