Deaf Solo-Circumnavigator Finishes, Receives Special Recognition

Shortly after Gerry Hughes aboard Quest III, a Beneteau 42s7, crossed the line on May 7th to complete his circumnavigation around all five capes, he was greeted in Troon Harbour, Scotland by a throng of more than 100 supporters. Among them were Frances Rennie and John Forsyth, representing the Ocean Cruising Club, who presented Gerry with a special award of recognition for his achievement.

Frances commented, “Gerry is an extraordinary man all around. It is no surprise, given his drive and determination in life, that he’s been able to accomplish so much and influence so many with his achievements in sailing. Gerry was very proud to receive this award. ” Assisting with the presentation were the Provost for South Ayrshire and the Deputy Provost of Glasgow; OCC member Priscilla Travis was on hand to photograph the event.

Gerry left Troon on the 1st September 2012. Single handing a boat is a massive challenge in itself, but sailing without being able to hear the sounds that alert sailors to changes in circumstances requires extraordinary skill and perception. His accomplishment has been described as a “wonderful example of perseverance over disability”. During 210 days at sea, his journey covered 32,000 miles of ocean.

Not only has Gerry completed an arduous journey that few sailors have even contemplated, he has served as incomparable inspiration to the communities of deaf children and adults following his accounts of adventure on the high seas. His blog and his tweets have shown disadvantaged people around the world that anyone can achieve something if they want it enough. Gerry was beset by numerous electrical failures and had to stop in Cape Town. Rather than admit defeat because it was no longer a non-stop circumnavigation, Gerry kept going to complete the circumnavigation with stops. After encountering severe weather and capsizing in the Southern Ocean, the boat sustained severe damage to essential equipment including his laptops. However, Gerry was able to continue to Hobart for more repairs and replacement of laptops before continuing his journey. It is this undaunted spirit that is kindred with the philosophy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

Born profoundly deaf, Gerry learned to sail at the age of two in his native Scotland. After completing a degree in Mathematics, he went on to become the first deaf teacher in Scotland since 1880. Aside from playing football on the winning Scottish and British Deaf Football Championships teams and competing in the World Deaf Golfing Championships for Scotland six times, Gerry was the first deaf sailor to sail solo round Britain in 1981, and he also sailed across the Atlantic in the OSTAR in 2005 becoming the first deaf skipper to do so. For more on Gerry visit http://gerrysmhughes.com/

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