Nichols wins Genmar Trophy for best marine writing

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Peter Nichols, a freelance writer and author of several boating books, was awarded The Genmar Trophy for his article “Incident in a Nowhere Place,” published in Outside Magazine in May 2002.

Nichols, of Camden, Maine, received the award, consisting of a $5,000 check and a lucite tower trophy, from Genmar Holdings’ senior vice president of marketing, George Sullivan, during the annual Boating Writers International (BWI) meeting at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.

International piracy took on a more unsettling reputation when yachtsman, explorer and America’s Cup and Whitbread Race winner Sir Peter Blake was killed resisting armed robbers on his 112-foot yacht in Brazil in late December 2001. Questions remain about the actions of Blake and his crew; however, Nichols offers a comprehensive retelling of the tragedy from eyewitnesses, including the men charged with the crime, and intones his perspective of international cruising and the questions captains should consider in carrying arms aboard, according to the award judges.

The resulting article evolves as a careful news account, memorial to Blake’s sailing life plus an instructional guide to those considering cruising to less developed destinations, the judges reported.

Comments by judges for the award described the article’s craft. “An intriguing and well-written story of mystery, mayhem and murder – but not just any murder: It is the painstakingly researched and compellingly presented story of the night that Sir Peter Blake, the most accomplished ocean-racing skipper of his generation, refused to be robbed by a pack of punk pirates who tried to board his yacht in a backwater Brazilian port where he had anchored. Blake’s decision to fight back, and ultimately to die with a rifle in his hands, is a decision the author examines in such a non-judgmental way that we can all think of how we might react – to roll over and be robbed or raped, or to stand up and risk death.”

The judges cited four additional entries as Honorable Mentions: Jenni Griffiths’s, “Without a Trace” (Cruising World, December 2002), “A gripping, extremely sad story beautifully presented;” Rick Gaffney’s, “GT” (Salt Water Sportsman, January 2002), “Excellent descriptive writing of account of an exciting bout with a game fish that just wouldn’t quit;” Susan Canfield’s, “Fire Onboard” (DIY Boat Owner, 2002), “Highly technical, informative and well-written job of demystifying complicated and scary material;” and Dag Pike’s, “Mayday” (MotorBoating, November 2002), “A solid, first-person narrative about how to keep your cool in a crisis.”

Judges for the Genmar Trophy are chosen from outside the boating field and asked to look for the best writing among the entries. They were three faculty members of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, all with significant experience drawn from careers in newspapers, magazines and broadcasting: Richard J. Roth, associate dean and associate professor; David L. Nelson, associate professor and chairman of the Newspaper Department; and Greg Stephan, adjunct lecturer at Medill.

The Genmar Trophy with its $5,000 award is the largest monetary honorarium given a writer of recreational boating. Nichols’s article took first place in the Consumer/Trade News category earlier this year, one of 36 award winners in the 2002 Boating Writers International annual Writing Contest. The top three entries in each of 12 writing categories were automatically entered for this grand prize.

BWI is a non-profit professional organization consisting of writers, broadcasters, editors, photographers, public relations specialists and others in the communications profession associated with the boating industry. Members include active marine journalists across the U.S., in Canada and around the world, supporting marine manufacturers and service entities, and associates in communication roles.

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