Deaf sailor Gavin Reid honoured for mid-ocean rescue

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Media captionAmateur sailor Gavin Reid scaled a mast to rescue a fellow yachtsman

A deaf amateur sailor has been named Yachtsman of the Year for his part in a daring mid-ocean rescue.

Gavin Reid, 28, was on board the Mission Performance yacht in January last year when the crew detected an SOS signal off the Australian coast.

He swam to the other yacht and helped rescue four crew members and save a fifth who had been tangled in lines at the top of the mast for nine hours.

He won the award over Giles Scott who won yachting gold at the Rio Olympics.

Mr Reid, 28, who went to school in Edinburgh and now lives in Cambridge, won the accolade from the Yachting Journalists' Association (YJA).

He was born profoundly deaf and had no sailing experience before taking part in the Clipper Round-the-World Yacht Race, a 40,000-nautical mile challenge.

Image copyright Clipper Round-the-World Race
Image caption Gavin Reid had never sailed before taking part in the race

The SOS signal was picked up off the New South Wales coast from a boat returning from the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Mr Reid volunteered to swim to the yacht where he found four crew members incapacitated and unable to help their crewman.

He climbed up to the man, taking about two hours to untangle the lines, and helped lower him to safety

Picking up his trophy at a ceremony in central London, Mr Reid said he did not expect to win the award and thanked those who voted for him.

"A year ago I did not know the difference between a halyard, a sheet or a jib. I knew nothing about sailing," he said.

"To be here with so many amazing names and people who have achieved so much is quite daunting."

He added: "To have won such a prestigious award is beyond anything - I am delighted."

"I'm sure Giles Scott is thinking 'how did I not win it?' But it was a real honour to beat someone with such amazing credentials."

Image copyright Clipper Round-the-World Race
Image caption The crewman had been stuck up the mast for nine hours
Image copyright Clipper Round-the-World Race
Image caption Mr Reid (pictured centre after the rescue) was born deaf

The vote was cast by more than 200 members of the YJA, with just two ballots between the top two nominees. The shortlist also included Round-the-Island Race record holder Brian Thompson.

The award has previously been won by Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie.

Mr Reid has won a number of other sailing awards for the rescue.

Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said Mr Reid "impressed tremendously" during his time competitively sailing around the world.

He said: "Mission Performance, who are fully trained with a safety-first mentality, upheld the tradition of the sea that you do not hesitate to go to the assistance of another sailor in distress, setting an excellent example of seamanship which is a crucial attribute for all good ocean-racing sailors.

"This is the pinnacle of British sailing awards and amongst the most prestigious accolades in the sailing world. I'm very proud of Gavin and the entire crew."

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