Derryman wins US award for Pacific rescue

Sean McCarter recovered Londoner from Pacific during Clipper round world race

Award-winner Sean McCarter is a former RNLI lifeboat volunteer. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Award-winner Sean McCarter is a former RNLI lifeboat volunteer. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire


A Derry sailor is to be awarded a prestigious international award for “outstanding seamanship” after he rescued a fellow crewman who was washed overboard in the middle of a Pacific gale.

Sean McCarter, skipper of the Northern Irish entry in the Clipper 2013-14 round world yacht race, is to receive this year’s Rod Stephens trophy from the Cruising Club of America (CCA).

The trophy is an internationally renowned award for an act of seamanship that “significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea”.

McCarter, who is a former RNLI lifeboat volunteer, recovered Londoner Andrew Taylor from the Pacific about halfway through the 5,600-mile leg from China to San Francisco last March (2014).

The 46-year-old Englishman had fallen overboard the yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire and was rescued after 90 minutes in the water, having drifted quickly out of sight.

The search was described as particularly difficult due to low visibility, high winds and mountainous seas.

The crewman made a full recovery after initial shock, hypothermia and a badly bruised leg, and stayed with the Derry yacht for the remaining six races to complete the circumnavigation which finished in London in July.


“Sean’s determination to recover Andrew motivated the crew and it is fair to say that had Sean not shown outstanding leadership, Andrew might not be with us today,”he said.

Derry has been represented in the Clipper Race since 2011 and finished in fourth position at the end of the last event earlier this year.

The Rod Stephens trophy has been awarded previously for diverse acts of seamanship, such as the rescue of 51 Haitians by the captain and crew of Corwith Cramer, a Brigantine sail training ship.

British circumnavigator Francis Chichester, French yachtsman Eric Tabarly and sailors Eric and Susan Hiscock have all been recognised in the past by the Cruising Club of America.