The 2020 BWI Annual Contest Winners

Boating Journalists Recognized for Best Writing & Imaging

Boating and fishing journalists, photographers and videographers were recognized on February 18, 2021 in an annual awards program conducted virtually by and for the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI).

In BWI’s 2020 Contest, presentations in 15 contest categories representing $15,000 in cash 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 boating through entertaining, educational and inspiring journalism.”

This year’s BWI Awards (presented now for 28 years) attracted 108 participants submitting 283 entries. In addition to cash awards, 29 Certificates of Merit were presented. All submissions to the contest were published in 2020. Each of the categories (noted below along with sponsors) was judged by four active journalists in the first few weeks of 2021.


Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating

1st, “Sailing for the Soul” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Soundings)

2nd “Just an Old Chart” by Chris Caswell (Passagemaker)

3rd, “Canoe Kids” by Heather Francis (Cruising World)

Judge Ben Stein commented on the winner: “’Sailing for the Soul’ makes us feel a mother’s pain of losing a son and invites us to join her journey to salvation by learning to sail.”

Boating Photography – sponsored by Freedom Boat Club

1st, “Yellow Warbler” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings)

2nd, “Schooner Mary Rose” by Jan Hein (Antiqua Yacht Regatta)

3rd, “Finn the Fish Dog” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Magazine)

Judge David Schmidt said: “This yellow warbler made this judge smile on a rainy day. I hope the bird enjoyed its ride as much as the photographer enjoyed capturing its image.”

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine

1st, “Barf-o-Rama” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Magazine)

2nd, “The Chaos is Real” by Kim Kavin (Soundings)

3rd, “3D Printing and Boatbuilding” by Kim Kavin (Yachting)

Judge John Burnham said: “Marine journalists have written this story hundreds of times, but never with such originality and such an irrepressible voice, backed up by thorough research and solid structure leading to a remarkably fair evaluation of different seasickness remedies.” If people can hire yacht services, yacht rentals need to c=be checked out!

Merit Awards: “Outlook for Cruising 2021” by Behan Gifford (Cruising World), “Goodbye to an Old Friend” by Craig Ritchie (, “Outboard of Tomorrow” by Bill Pike (Outboard Magazine).

Environmental Awareness & Education – sponsored by Torqeedo

1st, “Blue Bloods and Red Knots” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay Magazine)

2nd, “Technology Allows Boaters to Follow the Whales” by Fiona McGlynn (BoatUS Magazine)

3rd, “Green is the New Black” by Lydia Mullan (SAIL Magazine)

Judge John Page Williams noted: “This is a fascinating but necessarily brief look into the lives of multiple whale species, leaving the reader wanting much more. There’s at least one book here.”

Merit Awards: “Plastic Surgery: Could Microplastics Change the Face of Fishing” by Joe Sills (Bassmaster Magazine), “When Good Boats Go Bad” by Fiona McGlynn (BoatUS Magazine), “A Few Good Women” by Ann Eichenmuller (Chesapeake Bay Magazine).

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

1st, “Sunk by a Whale” by Peter Nielsen (Yachting World)

2nd, “Riddles in the Dark” by Michael Robertson (Good Old Boat)           

3rd, “The Conception Tragedy” by Chris Caswell (Boating)

Jim Rhodes commented: “An unusual first person story well told — with an important takeaway safety for readers.”

Merit Awards: “Fat Advice for Heavy Weather” by Fatty Goodlander (Cruising World), “Old Salts” by D.B. Davies (Good Old Boat), “End of His Rope” by John Vigor (Good Old Boat).

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta

1st, “The Great Avocette” by Kevin Koenig (Boat International)

2nd, “Marquis 42” by Chris Caswell (Boating)

3rd, “Building Buffet’s Boat” by Charlie Levine (Outboard Magazine)

Judge Mark Corke commented: “A mix of history twinned with a review of an interesting project makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read, which is a step up from many boat tests.”

Merit Awards:  “Outback Bahamas” by Chris Caswell (Power & Motoryacht), “Aluminum Express” by Alex Kwanten (Northwest Yachting), “Azimut’s New $1.8 Day Boat” by Michael Verdon (Robb Report).

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation

1st, “Halibut Hunter” by David Zoby (Anglers Journal)

2nd, “Big Time” by Simon Murray (Anglers Journal)

3rd, “Unbelievable True Story of How Memphis Pyramid became Bass Pro Shop” by Joe Sills (Forbes)

Judge Deborah Hanson noted: “This story stirs the emotions and concludes with a powerful message about finding common ground amidst differences. An outstanding piece.”

Merit Award: “The Hunt for Goliath” by Doug Stamm (BoatUS Magazine).

Gear, Electronics & Product Tests – sponsored by Xantrex by Mission Critical Electronics

1st, “One Wing Flapping” by John Vigor (Good Old Boat)

2nd, “Electric Dreams” by Fiona McGlynn (BoatUS Magazine)

3rd, “No Visible Means of Support” by Robert Mazza (Good Old Boat)

Judge Steve Davis said of the winner: “The product’s technical characteristics are woven within a humorous telling of its history through real-life experiences and a personal perspective that made for an enjoyable read.”

Merit Awards:  “Non-Lethal Self-Defense” by Ann Hoffner (Ocean Voyager),  “Taking Charge” by Drew Frye (Good Old Boat),  “Waterproof Epoxy” by Drew Frye (Good Old Boat).

Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits – sponsored by Boats Group

1st, “Faux Future” by Vincent Daniello (Marlin Magazine)

2nd, “Repower Assisted” by Andy Cross (Good Old Boat)

3rd, “Staying Power” by Edward Zacko (Good Old Boat)

Of the winner, judge Bill Sisson said: “This piece is well written and well sourced and anyone considering the question of real or faux wood will come away better informed.”

Merit Awards: “Sail Smarts for Cruisers” by Jamie Gifford (Cruising World), “Ahead of the Game” by Jerry Thompson (Good Old Boat), “Billy Pilgrim’s Progress” by Leslie Davidson (Cruising World).

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

1st, “Deep Impact: BUI Touches Law Enforcement” by Randy Vance (Boating Magazine)

2nd “Sea-Doo Lifestyle” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating Magazine)

3rd, “PWC Safety” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating Magazine)

Judge Chris Woodward had this to say about the winner: ” This important message about Boating Under the Influence was well crafted. It left out the preaching and humanized law-enforcement’s handling of an issue that can seem very predictable and cliche.”

Merit Award: “Blackfin Boats Factory Tour” by Randy Vance (Boating Magazine).

The Business of Boating – sponsored by BRP

1st, “Pandemic Boat Buying” by Kim Kavin (Passagemaker)

2nd, “Return to Lake X” by Craig Ritchie (Boating New Zealand)

3rd“Tech Support” by Lenny Rudow (Marine Electronics Journal)

Judge Alan Wendt noted: “Every aspect of our life is entangled with this Pandemic. The writer had solid quotes and a wide example of solutions the industry is harnessing to survive this once in a century calamity.”

Merit Award: “Autonomous Vessels” by Zuzana Prochazka (Marine Electronics Journal).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.

1st, “A Dash of Salt” by Chris Caswell (Passagemaker)

2nd, “Between Fish” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal)

3rd, “Off Watch” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World)

Judge Charlie Levine said “The author’s voice is crisp and vivid throughout the columns. They are fun to read, and hard to put down.”

Merit Awards: “Waterlines” by Charlie Doane (SAIL Magazine), “Three Separate Columns” by Bill Pike (Power & Motoryacht).

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by Kicker Marine Audio

1st, “A Tough Little Loop” by Stephen Blakely (Cruising World)

2nd, “How to Die Happy” by Kevin Koenig (Yachting)

3rd, “The River that Flows Both Ways” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings)

Judge Alan Jones said:  “The author puts the reader right into the rain and spray-drenched cockpit of their 26-foot sailboat on a tough but memorable 400-mile slog.” 

Merit Award: “Pristine Glacier Bay” by Andy Cross (48° North Magazine).

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine

1st, “Threading the Needle” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings)

2nd, “Able Artisan” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings)

3rd, “Stand Up Draftsman” by Fiona McGlynn (Good Old Boat Magazine)

Judge Lenny Rudow said: “Many profile pieces wouldn’t be described as ‘gripping,’ but this one certainly was. The author kept up a great tempo and turned a very interesting subject into a topnotch article.”

Merit Awards: “The Maestro” by Fionna McGlynn (Good Old Boat Magazine), “Legend of Al Grover” by Daniel Harding (Outboard Magazine).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group

1st, “One Tack and Two Gibes” by Andy Cross (48° North Magazine)

2nd, “Sailing to the Center of the Earth” by Stephen Blakely (Cruising World)

3rd, “Slow Race to Alaska” by Jan Hein (Classic Boat Magazine)

Judge Richard Armstrong commented: “There’s great spirit throughout this inspiring account. The overall effect is thrilling and attractive to adventurous boaters.”

Merit Awards: “True North” by Benoit Fleury (Good Old Boat), “Shock & Awe” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World), “School Daze” by Jon Whittle (Cruising World).

About BWI

BWI is a non-profit professional organization consisting of writers, editors, broadcasters, publishers, photographers, public relations specialists and others in the communications profession associated with the boating industry. Members include active marine journalists across the U.S., Canada and around the world. For more information, visit