Innovation typically relates to technological advances or some other physical creation. However, an innovator is also a go-getter, an achiever, and above all a person who makes a remarkable impact. The Superyacht Life Foundation and the Monaco Yacht Show honored three such innovators at the inaugural Honours awards event.
The Honours awards recognize superyachting change makers, to highlight the people making concrete positive impacts. They’re an extension of the mission behind the Superyacht Life Foundation, namely to change the conversation around luxury yachting. Much of the traditional media coverage and general public’s perception is negative and mired in stereotypes. The three winners, who each received a Bowsprit crystal statue, came from upwards of 360 nominees.
Specifically, the winners were Wendy Schmidt (bottom photo), a superyacht owner and ocean-conservation advocate; Jenny Matthews (immediately below), a first officer and DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) protagonist; and YachtAid Global director Zoran Selakovic (top).
Schmidt commissioned and still owns the Royal Huisman-built ketch Elfje, and is an accomplished competitive sailor. She received the Bowsprit for her work to educate the public about protecting and restoring the oceans, plus direct efforts to restore them. Through non-profits like the Schmidt Family Foundation and Schmidt Ocean Institute, for example, she has helped ocean science and research advance. Specifically, she provided a research vessel for scientists and researchers to use, for free, for them to share their discoveries with the public. Additionally, as co-founder of 11th Hour Racing, Schmidt is helping publicize sailing- and maritime-related sustainability developments. Finally, she supports yacht lifecycle assessment tool development, among other industry efforts.
Matthews is the founder of She of the Sea, which strives to ensure yachting professionals and owners benefit from a high-performing, competency-focused industry, regardless of gender. She got her start in yachting as a crewmember, intent on becoming a captain. When she achieved her Officer of the Watch certificate, she learned few women held that role. Thus, She of the Sea was born. She’s further the co-founder of Legasea, through which young crewmembers and yachting professionals pair with mentors, for support and career growth.
Finally, while Sekalovic is a captain, he just wanted to help when Hurricanes Irma and Maria devasted Caribbean friends’ lives. In his search, he met Mark Drewelow, YachtAid Global’s founder. The well-known yachting non-profit enlists the help of superyachts to mobilize aid to remote island nations worldwide. Indeed, more than 100 yachts volunteered to help with those hurricanes—within two weeks, no less. Selakovic jumped at the chance to help coordinate efforts. Since then, he’s coordinated efforts to provide clean drinking water in Mexico. He has also overseen the construction of the first public library in the Galapagos. Plus, he’s coordinating Operation Swimway, which is working to convince lawmakers to add pelagic migratory routes to ocean-conservation regions.
During the Honours awards, guests watched documentaries about each winner. Afterwards, Schmidt, Matthews, and Skalovic each discussed their backgrounds more.
“The evening was a wonderful expression of the good that exists in the superyachting good life, highlighting that there is so much more to this industry, its owners, and crew than meets the eye,” says Dilan Sarac, the Superyacht Life Foundation’s executive director. She adds that the three award recipients “have set a high bar for future nominations, which we have no doubt the industry will meet.”
Gaelle Tallarda, the Monaco Yacht Show’s managing director, calls more attention to the good people do. “The highlight of this spectacular night was definitely hearing the inspiring stories of Wendy, Jenny and Zoran,” she says. Tallarda was also struck by “how deeply caring the superyacht world can be, and how we can all be a part of instigating change.”
Plans for next year’s Honours awards are underway. In fact, nominations open December 1.
Monaco Yacht Show monacoyachtshow.com
Superyacht Life Foundation thesuperyachtlife.com