Top Boating Journalism Gets Recognized

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized at the start of the Miami International Boat Show in an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI). Presentations in 17 contest categories representing $17,000 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.”

In its 24th year, the BWI contest attracted 151 participants submitting 378 entries. In addition to cash awards, Certificates of Merit were presented to writers of another 43 articles which scored within 95 percent of third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2016. 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 are provided to the top three scorers. Results:

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation

1st place, “On the Edge” by Zach Harvey (Anglers Journal, Winter); 2nd place, “Mate for a Day” by Lenny Rudow (Texas Fish & Game, Oct.); Third place, “Cult of the Tog” by Gary Caputi (Anglers Journal, Fall). “On the Edge was entertaining from its lead through every single sentence and paragraph to its close,” said judge Gary Reich; “I’ve never read a more clever, colorful, and artistic description of a tool anglers use almost every time they fish, but take for granted.” Certificates of Merit: “Silver Obsession” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal, Spring); “Beautiful Brawn” by Ric Burnley (Anglers Journal, Summer); “Tales of Daytime Swordfish & Deep Tuna” by Vincent Daniello (Sport Fishing, May).

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

1st, “Splash Test Dummy” by Drew Frye (Good Old Boat, Sept.); 2nd, “New Options in Small Outboards” by Darrell Nicholson (Practical Sailor, Jan.); 3rd, “Hitting the Bricks” by Nigel Calder (PassageMaker, Sept.). “Despite it being a controlled product test of a cold water immersion suit, the author packs the article with a satisfying mix of information and hard data, accented with a good dose of humor throughout – An excellent piece of professional journalism,” noted judge Rich Armstrong. Merit Awards: “Trial By Fire and Water” by Lenny Rudow (Texas Fish & Game, Sept.); “Fish Whisperers” by Ron Ballanti (Anglers Journal, Fall).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group

1st, “Rite of Passage” by Daniel Parrott (Soundings, Aug.); 2nd, “Strings Attached” by Stuart Streuli (Sailing World, March); 3rd, “Si Se Puede” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Sept.). Judge Stacey Wigmore said: “Rite of Passage has all the elements that make a great piece –   drama, suspense, humor, and great storytelling. The author put me there with him, and I wasn’t ready for the story to end.” Merit Certificates for: “Havana or Bust” by Troy Gilbert (Sailing World, June); “The Curse of the Island of Doom” by Marlin Bree (Small Craft Advisor, Nov.); “The Fall Guys” by Peter Nielsen (Sail, Jan.); “The Devil Unknown” by Ben Zartman (Cruising World, Oct.); and “Southern Ocean, Family Style” by Somira Sao (Cruising World, Feb.).

Boat/Engine Care and Maintenance – sponsored by Interlux Yacht Finishes

1st, “Sam’s Dead” by Dennis Mullen (Multihull Sailor, Oct.); 2nd, “Help Me Help You” by Lenny Rudow (Texas Fish & Game, Dec,); 3rd, “Clean Fuel, Happy Boat” by Frank Lanier (Sea, Sept.). “’Sam’s Dead’ combines a unique approach with a solid underpinning of both storytelling and educating the reader even as the writer’s depiction of a catastrophic event bubbles with humor,” said judge David Epstein. Merit Certificates to “Reasons to be Paranoid About Fuel” by Nigel Calder (Yachting Monthly, April); “Varnishing Perfection” by Mark Corke (BoatUS Magazine, April); “Negligence Can Cost Plenty” by Ed Sherman (BoatUS Magazine, April); “Power Play” by John Page Williams (Chesapeake Bay, June)

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta

1st, “Reign Supreme” by Marilyn Mower (ShowBoats International, June); 2nd,”The Best Boats for Your Money” by Lenny Rudow (BoatUS Magazine, Oct.); 3rd, “Rogue Scholar” by Chris Caswell (Yachts International, June). Judge Brady Kay said, “I love the angle the author of ‘Reign” took. The format is woven in a clever way to link all of the features and amenities of this impressive yacht. It’s smart, well-written and filled with a wealth of great information.” Merit awards to: “Next Gen” by Patrick Sciacca (Yachting, Dec.); “Trick of the Eye” by Kevin Koenig (Yachting, July).

Boating Photography – sponsored by Freedom Boat Club

1st, “Rainbow Over the Columbia River Gorge” by George Sass (PassageMaker, Nov.); 2nd, “Old Ways” by Leo DeSousa (Anglers Journal, Spring); 3rd, “Graham McKay” by Jim Raycroft (Soundings, June). “The lighting in ‘Rainbow’ is phenomenal. The composition, the scene, the moment captured – all the elements were incredible. It’s the kind of picture that stirs your insides and one that could never be depicted in words,” offered judge Reagan Haynes. Awards of Merit: “The Hunting Games” by Pat Ford (Anglers Journal, Summer); “Vancouver – Blow By U” by Neil Rabinowitz (Yachtworld,com, Dec.); “Alone at the Ice Edge” by Ellen Leonard (Cruising World, June); “The Gaffer Hannah” by Tom Zydler (Cruising World, Feb.).

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

1st, “The Storm Trysail” by Edward Zacko (Good Old Boat, Jan.); 2nd, “In the Perfect Position to Fail” by Ralph Naranjo (Practical Sailor, April); 3rd, “Naked and Afraid” by Pete McDonald (Boating, Jan.). Of the first place selection, judge Jim Rhodes said, “A thoroughly researched and well-presented article. Punctuated by vivid personal anecdotes, it was written with the authority of someone who knows the subject matter.” Merit selections: “Hitches to Grip Anchor Chain” by Drew Frye (Practical Sailor, May); “Go Forth and Cruise” by Tom Cunliffe (Sail, June).

Environmental Awareness & Education – sponsored by American Boat & Yacht Council

1st, “The Fiberglass Dilemma” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, March); 2nd, “Troubled Waters” by Jim Flannery (Anglers Journal, Fall); 3rd, “The Great Rebound” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, Sept.). Judge Kim Kavin explained, “’Fiberglass Dilemma’ is a fascinating story about the race to figure out how to keep America’s aging fleet of fiberglass boats from filling the nation’s junkyards. It is a recycling story that explains all the challenges that come with trying to do the right thing, including economic forces at play far beyond the minds of many boaters.” Awards of Merit to “On the Horizon” by Tyson Bottenus (Cruising World, Dec.); “Breaking the Ice” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); “Boaters Beware!” by Karen Soule (Chesapeake Bay, July).

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

1st, “Cruisers 60 Cantius Review” by John Burnham (, Jan. 26); 2nd, “Testing Seakeeper: Gyroscopic Stabilization for Boats” by Lenny Rudow (, Sept. 26); 3rd, “How to Re-deck Your Boat With SeaDek” by Lenny Rudow (, July 7). “The 60 Cantius video passed all the metrics of engaging viewers and providing a solid, objective critique of the subject craft; carefully scripted, fluid and beautiful visuals and excellent editing,” judges noted. Merit Awards to “Yamaha GP 1800 – PWC Test” by Alan Jones (Boating World/YouTube, Dec. 29) and “Beneteau Swift Trawler 30: First Look Video” by Alex Smith (, Feb. 17).

Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating

1st, “Class Act” by David Reed (Sailing World, Sept.); 2nd, “Keeping It Simple” by Jeff Bolster (Soundings, Oct.); 3rd, “A Sailor’s Brain Under Power” by Doug Logan (, March 17). Noted judge Ben Ellison, “Class Act is a beautifully crafted profile of that most enigmatic of boating types, the all-in sail racing owner/skipper. But the author also embedded the startling plot twist in such a perfectly structured and sensitive way that no reader will be left untouched.” Certificates of Merit: “Rules of the Ramp” by Ann Eichenmuller (Chesapeake Bay, June) and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” by Tom Neale (Soundings, Nov.).

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine

1st, “The Future is Now” by Kim Kavin (Yachts International, Nov.); 2nd, “Now Launching: Miami 2.0” by Kim Kavin (Yachting, Feb.); 3rd, “Place A Quest for Keel Integrity” by Ralph Naranjo (Practical Sailor, May). “’The Future’ draws the reader in immediately and explains, with a good balance of informative reporting and experiential descriptions, how virtual reality is transforming yacht design, sales and construction. It flows well, makes good use of multiple sources, and informs the reader of todays and possible future uses of virtual reality,” judge Kelly Flory offered. Merit Awards: “Imagine GPS Goes Down” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings, Feb.); “Flagging the New Scams” by Charles Fort (BoatUS Magazine, Feb.); “Will Florida Settle Its Anchoring Issues?” by Ryck Lydecker (Boat US Magazine, Dec.); “The Bay’s Ups and Downs” by Tom Hale (Chesapeake Bay, Sept.).

Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits – sponsored by Awlgrip North America

1st, “Closing the Loophole” by Ronnie Simpson (Cruising World, May); 2nd, “Legends Never Die“ by Daniel Harding (Power & Motoryacht, June); 3rd, “Arm Yourself for High Latitudes” by Tom Zydler (Cruising World, April). Judge Bill Sisson said, “’Loophole’ had a lot of good things going for it: well written, practical hard-won advice, along with the author’s refreshing sense of independence, adventure and self-reliance. The writer brought a smart can-do attitude both to the story and the refit of his Cal-29, which he single-handed from California to Hawaii.” Merit Awards to: “A Warrior Returns” by Marilyn Mower (ShowBoats International, July); “Splice it Up” by Heather Francis (Cruising World, June); “Filling in the Blanks” by Connie McBride (Good Old Boat, Nov.); “Saving a Sole” by Heather Steinberger (Boating, Feb.).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.

1st, “Between Fish” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “Jody’s Log” by Jody Argo Schroath (Chesapeake Bay); 3rd, “Weather Eye” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay). “You feel his work in your bones,” says judge John Wooldridge of the first place columns … “Highly descriptive and deeply immersive, they transport you to the moment that the experience takes place, making the reader a participant to the story.” Honorable Mentions: “On Watch” by Fatty Goodlander (Cruising World); “On the Wind” by Chris Caswell (Sailing).

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine

1st, “Tuned In” by John Page Williams (Anglers Journal, Fall); 2nd, “Backcountry Boy” by Jim Flannery (Anglers Journal, Winter); 3rd, “The Real Deal” by Jim Flannery (Anglers Journal, Summer). Judge Dorie Cox said, “From the first vibrations of the fishing line in ‘Tuned In’ we flow with the writer’s theme as we learn interesting details of his subject’s adventures. The author offers excellent attention to the subtleties of a life.” Certificate of Merit: “Art Daniel, Captain of the Bay” by Brice Stump (Chesapeake Bay, Dec.).

The Business of Boating – sponsored by Home Port Marine Marketing

1st, “Boat Lover’s Guide to Marine Tech Schools & Colleges” by Stacey Wigmore (BoatUS Magazine, Dec.); 2nd, “Can Beneteau Conquer America?” by Michael Verdon (International Boat Industry Magazine, April); 3rd, “Who Will Replace Boomers?” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade Only, May). Of the Schools Guide, judge Gary Beckett said, “A very well-researched story covering a hot industry topic that affects not just the trade but consumers as well with very good use of sources.” Merit awards: “Hitting the Blend Wall” by Nigel Calder (Professional Boatbuilder, April); “One Small Ball Bearing, One Giant Leap for Hardware” by Heather Steinberger (Sailing, May); “Securing the Boat Show Docks” by Kim Kavin (Compass, Aug.).

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by Martin Flory Group

1st, “Beckoned by a Clearing” by Thies Matzen (Cruising World, March); 2nd, “Lingering Through Languedoc” by Tim Murphy (Cruising World, Nov.); 3rd, “Sailing Into Paradise” by Michael Robertson (Cruising World, Feb.). Judges said the first place selection, “Recounts the unravelling of a WWII mystery set within a family story, delivered by an epic voyage to an extraordinary part of the Earth … a captivating read with a compelling balance of historical and present-day information.” Merit Awards: “Charmed By St. Helena” by Diane Selkirk (Sailing World, Dec.); “Lewis, Clark & Fleming” by George Sass (PassageMaker, Nov.); “The Wildest Coast” by Ben Zartman (Cruising World, Feb.); “Sand and Sea” by Gary Jobson (Cruising World, June); “Saving the Best for Last” by Mike Litzow (Cruising World, Jan.); “Finding Home at the Bottom of the World” by Somira Sao (Cruising World, April); “Norwegians Would” by Terry Ward (Cruising World, April).

Technical Writing – sponsored by Dometic Marine

1st, “Black Magic” by Chris Caswell (Boating, July); 2nd, “We Can Have Hybrid” by Nigel Calder (Professional Boatbuilder, Dec.); 3rd, “Security by Design” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Dec.). Of the top pick, judge Mike Smith said, “Lots of Information! A good, concise, well-written article.” Honorable Mentions: “Know Your Nav Lights” by Frank Lanier, (Sea Magazine, Aug.); “Solid State Radar: The Doppler Effect” by Ben Ellison (Panbo, March); and “Going Totally Solar” by Bruce Bingham (Cruising World, Jan.).