Unique honours for Tall Ships Races skipper

24 September 2012

Unique honours for Tall Ships Races skipper

Lara Caine (29), Captain of Moosk, has been awarded a once in a lifetime award for her outstanding actions and leadership during the Tall Ships Races 2012.

Lara has been awarded the one-off Bernard Heppener Trophy for her approach to dealing with a medical emergency in the Bay of Biscay, during the first race leg between Saint Malo and Lisbon.

Lara has been sailing since she was seven years old.  She is a paid relief skipper for the Island Trust, which provides personal development programmes for young people on board its fleet of three traditionally rigged sailing vessels – Moosk, Pegasus and Tectona.   She also undertakes freelance charter work.

During the Tall Ships Races 2012 Lara was skippering 58ft Moosk, with one crew member, Jim, and eight young trainees. Just 36 hours into the race Jim complained of stomach pains. 

Lara tells her story.

“It could have been anything, but when Jim didn’t go on deck for his watch it became clear it was serious. I conducted a thorough medical check as I had recently completed a medical care at sea course; though I hadn’t anticipated needing to use the knowledge quite so quickly. I contacted race control to let them know we had a problem and they told me to contact the coastguard.  I decided to contact Falmouth because they were English speaking, rather than Madrid, which was also nearby.  Race control had also contacted Lord Nelson and they were on their way with a doctor.

“The trainees stepped up to the mark and were fantastic throughout. They reliably looked after the boat while I sorted out the communications now flying between Moosk, Race Control, Lord Nelson and Falmouth coastguard.  

“The trainees were the first to spot Lord Nelson appear on the horizon like a pirate ship in the gloom around 11.30pm.  She had a doctor on board who came over to us via a RIB and then after an examination Jim was evacuated back over to Lord Nelson and taken to A Coruna where he was admitted to hospital.  He had acute appendicitis.

“It was then just me and the trainees. In fact, Moosk was recognised for having the youngest crew in the Tall Ships Races 2012.  We were unable to find another permanent crew member to join the vessel and as a result we had to pull out of the race. The trainees were disappointed after they had coped so well, but we made the most of the experience and enjoyed some pleasure sailing and shore visits.

Paul Bishop, Race Director for Sail Training International said, “Lara’s approach to what was a difficult and challenging situation was text book. Her actions demonstrated everything that sail training is about - independence and yet strong team work, tenacity, resolve, leadership and clear communication. 

“Thanks to her clear thinking and great training she ensured first aid assistance, organised an immediate evacuation and oversaw the activities of eight trainees.  She acted in a highly professional manner whilst under a lot of pressure.”

Lara said, “I’m honoured to be given this award. I love my job; it’s hard work but it’s very rewarding working with young people.  Sailing has always been my personal anchor and focus in life and to be able to pass on those skills so others can have that same experience is terrific.”

-    ends –

For further information contact Sally Titmus, Communications Manager, Sail Training International +44 (0)23 9258 6367, mobile +44 (0)7827298733 sally.titmus@sailtraininginternational.org

(l-r) Lara Caine receives her award from Paul Bishop, Race Director, Sail Training International aboard Queen Galadriel

Editors notes:

The award

The Bernard Heppener award is a one-off trophy in recognition of the highly respected Race Director, who passed away in June this year.  It was awarded to an individual who performed an outstanding act or contributed most to the Tall Ships Races 2012 and displayed quality and commitment to sail training.

Bernard had a naval background and went on to become Captain of Urania taking part in countless Tall Ships Races. He was a driving force behind sail training.

Bernard’s considerable experience as a skipper in many Tall Ships Races meant that his wise counsel was constantly sought and his views listened to.  He was a hugely respected Committee member and member of the race management team who believed passionately in the sail training ethos and the benefits it brought to young people.  He carried this passion and commitment into all his work and was instrumental in developing Sail Training Association Netherlands.

He had a robust sense of humour and a determination to make sure that everyone enjoyed the experience of the Races, from trainee to captain – normally in that order.  His common sense and vast experience was always hugely valued by those who worked with him and his willingness to ‘roll up his sleeves’ and do some serious work meant that his contribution to the team was invaluable.
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