The crews from M/Y Dragonfly and M/Y Umbra were honored Wednesday night with the International Superyacht Society’s Distinguished Crew Award for their efforts to help people devastated by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu in March.
After learning of the disaster, the 240-foot (73m) M/Y Dragonfly changed course to travel 1,600 miles over three and a half days to be the first outsiders on the scene. Within days, the 51m support vessel M/Y Umbra made the four-day, 2,200 km journey from New Zealand.
The Vanuatu government tasked the yachts and their crew with supplying aid and medical response to the area where it was believed that more than 80 percent of villages were destroyed.
At the time, Capt. Mike Gregory said, “Dragonfly has extensively cruised the beautiful and remote areas of Vanuatu over the past two years. We were shocked and saddened to see the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam, and we know that the resources we have on board can make a huge difference and will ultimately save lives.”
Dragonfly created and pumped tens of thousands of fresh water to people in 10 villages, helped medical personnel treat more than 220 people, facilitated three medical evacuations, cleared numerous zones for helicopter landings, cleared access roads and removed fallen trees from buildings, and delivered or erected shelter in multiple villages.
Umbra Capt. Charles “Hap” Heyden led his crew on the mission, filling and delivering hundreds of 10-liter containers of water, clearing landing places for helicopters and clearing paths to food sources on several islands worst hit.
“The rewards of doing humanitarian work are all internal,” First Officer Steve Sims said on a report of Umbra’s journey. “Personally, this journey has made me realize how everyone on Earth should work that little bit harder to help their fellow man, whether that be right next door to you, or far away.”
These yachts drew inspiration from a previous Distinguished Crew Award winner, Capt. Mark Drewelow and YachtAid Global, which helped coordinate some of the relief.
“When it was all over, there was a standing ovation that went on for minutes,” said Gary Groenewold, area vice president for South Florida for Westrec Marinas, which sponsors ISS’s crew award each year. “What you had was captains managing a disaster relief effort. They’re crew. They work together as a team, so they did what they know how to do. They made the difference in whether those people lived or died.”
The ISS also honored Timothy Hodgdon of Hodgdon Yachts as its Business Person of the Year. The 2015 Leadership Award was given to Tim Heywood of Tim Heywood Designs, and the Excellence in Innovation honor was given to THEOcare Hygiene.
The Fabien Cousteau Blue Award was given to the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.
The ISS’s design awards were given to:
M/Y Grace E for best power yacht larger than 65m, M/Y Kiss for best power yacht 40-65m, and M/Y Taransay for best power yacht 24-40m.
S/Y Elfje for best sailing yacht larger than 40m, and S/Y Win Win for best sailing yacht 24-40m.
M/Y Talitha was honored for best refit, and S/Y Elfje was honored for best interior.