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New award for environmental journalism

Yachting Monthly has launched a new journalism award in memory Brian and Lesley Black, which aims to recognise the best writing about issues affecting the marine environment, as explored by sailing boat.

Brian Black was as passionate about the marine environment as he was eloquent in his writing and filmmaking about the crises facing fragile Arctic ecosystems. A television journalist for RTE in Ireland, UTV in Northern Ireland, and later through his own production company, he was also a lifelong sailor and contributor to Yachting Monthly. His wife Lesley was a sailor and author in her own right, becoming Northern Ireland’s first female yacht club commodore, blazing a trail for women in sailing.

As a memorial to Brian and Lesley Black, the Black family, in conjunction with Yachting Monthly, have established an award to celebrate sailing adventures which shed a fresh light on marine environmental issues through inspiring journalism. The award aims to find the very best writing that gives voice to the marine environment and brings a new perspective to readers. Brian and Lesley's daughter Sarah Brown is Chair of the Sea-Changers Board and a much loved member of the Sea-Changers team. Sea-Changers is very proud to support and promote this wonderful new award.

Sarah explains, “From a young age my parents taught my brother and me about the natural world, particularly the ocean. We learnt how to sail on it, but also how to love and care for it, meaning I have spent my most of my adult life determined to raise awareness of, and funds for, marine conservation. Mum and Dad told me how proud they were of my work as chair, and often made donations to Sea-Changers, but as anyone who met my folks could attest, their greatest strength was as natural storytellers and I hope that this new award will keep that legacy going, by encouraging others to do the same and share their inspiring stories about the challenges facing our seas today.”

Brian and Lesley Black with their daughter, Sarah Brown

Applications are invited from anyone who has recently used a sailing boat to explore an environmental issue about which they are passionate. The voyage should ideally have been undertaken in UK, European or Arctic waters to reflect Brian and Lesley Black’s lifelong commitment to this area. The judges are looking for great stories told well, illustrated with beautiful photography to inform, educate and inspire the reader about a particular area and environmental issue.

The winning entry will receive a minimum cash prize of £1,000 and a donation of £500 to their environmental project or charity of choice; publication of their work in Yachting Monthly magazine and website; an original artwork inspired by the winning entry by son of Brian and Les, artist Kieron Black; a presentation hosted by Yachting Monthly and the judging panel; a physical award, and the right to use the award logo. For full details on the entry requirements please visit the website at: Entries should be submitted by email to, no later than 8 August 2021.

Yachting Monthly editor and Sea-Changers Patron, Theo Stocker, said, “Brian and Lesley were stalwart contributors to Yachting Monthly, and their articles brought remote sailing destinations to life, inspiring many. They also highlighted how even pristine ecosystems were being threatened by environmental issues. We hope this award will encourage others to become advocates for the marine environment in which we all delight.”

The judging panel includes round the world race winner, multiple world champion Mike Golding OBE, six-time circumnavigator and Volvo Ocean Race skipper Dee Caffari MBE, conservation expert Dr Robert Brown OBE, marine environmental consultant and daughter of Brian and Lesley Black, Sarah Brown, and the Yachting Monthly editorial team. The award is kindly supported by The Green Blue, the RYA, Imray, the Royal Highland Yacht Club, the Ocean Cruising Club and the Irish Cruising Club.


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