OUR SUPER-A OF THE YEAR AWARD for 2021 goes to Murdoch Mc Gregor, who beat some of the biggest names in the sailing world. The Alloa man captured the hearts and imagination of people to win a prestigious award.
The town’s intrepid and inspiring adventurer was named Sailor of the Year 2021 at the British Yachting Awards.
Stunned but immensely proud, the 82-year-old scooped the accolade in a public vote, having been nominated along with the likes of the whole British Sailing Team, Vendée Globe round-the-world racers Pip Hare and skipper Tom Kneen.
Murdoch, who only started sailing 10 years ago and has been notching up achievements ever since, was nominated following his solo sailing trip, which saw him circumnavigate the UK earlier this summer.
As reported in the Alloa Advertiser at the time, many believe he may be the oldest to have achieved the feat.
In an interview for the BBC, he said that his yacht, Artemis was, “small for the voyage that I was on – 1900 miles in all sorts of passages of weather and sea conditions.”
He navigated from the Forth, firstly to Scarborough, Dover, Southampton, along the South Coast to Lands End, then 600 miles north to the ‘dreaded Cape Wrath’, through Pentland Firth at the other end – another hazardous passage – and then back down into the Forth.
He went on to say, “Strangely enough, I never got scared. You get some challenging situations; winds pick up when you least expect and I didn’t set off to sail into a gale but they sometimes cropped up and I had to deal with them. I took sailing up at the age of 72 never knowing how well I would do. I never imagined that it would lead to me becoming UK Sailor of the Year!”
“I get great satisfaction, perhaps even spiritually, from being alone at sea, being vulnerable, but I enjoy the challenge. You would not get me on the back of a motorbike at 100mph or anything like that, or even going to Alton Towers on one of these big things! I am comfortable in the North Sea or the Baltic Sea. Me and the sea are fine.”
“I had been asked by a couple of old age organisations if I might like to come along and show myself as an example to folks that you needn’t stop getting about at the age of 60 or something, or retiring early to the ‘big chair’ – which is a big, big problem. So I’ve agreed and if I can get somebody out of the big chair and into the public park, for a walk around the block, or on a bike or whatever – as long I get them out of the big chair, I’ll be happy.”
“I get great satisfaction from being alone and vulnerable at sea”
– Murdoch McGregor
During his voyage, Murdoch raised more than an incredible £10,000 for charity Mental Health UK and was welcomed back to Alloa by a sizeable crowd of family, friends and supporters.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, which took place at the Royal Thames Yacht Club on November 30, Murdoch told the Advertiser: “I could not believe it, I was stunned. Then I quickly recovered from my stunning and became so nicely elated.”
Murdoch, who usually anchors at Forth Cruising Club at Limekilns where he was made an honorary member for life just the week before the awards ceremony, could not believe he was picked first from such a talented crowd.
He added: “When I’ve seen the list I was in – there was me, the club sailor and the rest were all legends of British sailing and some of them world sailors. How come I managed to beat them in this public vote?”
Whether it was his age, the fact many could identify with him as he comes from a small club, or just his infectiously inspiring personality, Murdoch has brought the award home to Alloa and is understood to be the first Scot to win the trophy.
The recipe for success was summed up by Rob Peake, group editor of Sailing Today with Yachts & Yachting magazine, which organises the British Yachting Awards.
He said: “Murdoch was a very popular winner on the night and he won the votes of thousands of our readers, who clearly admired his remarkable achievement of sailing around Britain solo, in a small yacht.
“Even the most experienced ocean navigators speak of the round-Britain trip as one of the trickiest. It’s a serious undertaking that requires a high level of seamanship.”
“On top of that, Murdoch has done it at an age when many of us might be expecting to be looking back on our achievements, rather than notching up new ones. He’s an inspiration for all ages. It was wonderful to have him at the ceremony.”
Murdoch, who was accompanied to the ceremony by supportive wife Janice, gave thanks to all his supporters and revealed a journey to Norway is next on his list.