World voyagers Seth and Ellen Leonard relax aboard their boat Heretic during a visit to Blue Hill in 2010 after completing 32,000-mile sailing circumnavigation voyage. FILE PHOTO

Sailing couple win award for global voyaging



BLUE HILL — A couple that completed a successful 32,000-mile sailing trip around the globe that got underway in Blue Hill a decade ago has just received the Cruising Club of America’s Young Voyager Award.

The award recognizes “a young sailor who has made one or more exceptional voyages.”

Ellen and Seth Leonard received the award in recognition of their predominantly double-handed circumnavigation commenced at the ages of 20 and 23, respectively aboard their 38-foot sloop Heretic. The voyage began in Blue Hill in 2008 and, in the summer of 2010, finished in Blue Hill Harbor.

Chosen for their “outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing and the history of yachting,” the Leonards were honored during the CCA’s annual awards dinner on March 1 at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.

The Cruising Club of America is dedicated to offshore cruising, voyaging and the “adventurous use of the sea.” Founded in 1922, the club has 11 stations throughout the United States, Canada and Bermuda, with approximately 1,300 members, each qualified by their experience in offshore passage making. The CCA organizes the biennial Newport-to-Bermuda Race in conjunction with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

Ellen Leonard is a photojournalist who was born in San Francisco, and grew up there and on Hornby Island, British Columbia. She began sailing at age 6 in British Columbia with her parents and started racing on San Francisco Bay at age 13.

Like his wife, Seth Leonard began sailing on the East Coast while in preschool. The couple met in Maine in the summer of 2006 and were sailing together within a week. Two years later, after Ellen’s graduation from Yale, the couple set off on their circumnavigation.

Their passage proceeded down the East Coast, across the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, westward across the Pacific, around the Cape of Good Hope, across the Atlantic back into the Caribbean and up to Blue Hill. This voyage was made in Heretic, a 38-foot cutter rigged sloop, a copy of the Sparkman & Stephens-designed keel-centerborder Finisterre, a three-time winner of the Newport Bermuda Race. Before leaving Maine, Seth began a full restoration of Heretic, which was finished over the course of the cruise.

Not content to rest on any laurels, the Leonards, after being landlocked for several years, bought Celeste, a 40-foot custom built cold-molded wooden cutter-rigged sloop, and set out on a four-year, 13,000-mile voyage along the west coast of Alaska and Canada, eventually reaching the polar pack ice at 72 degrees North. They are currently sailing in the Pacific heading west and have logged over 50,000 nautical miles together.

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