Larry Ellison earned the reputation of a hard-nose billionaire who engaged his BMW Oracle syndicate in a mighty pissing match with the equally wealthy Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi syndicate, leaving a bad taste in a lot of sailors’ mouths. That was 2007-2008. Now he’s trying his best to return the spirit of competition to the Cup and is keeping costs in check. BMW Oracle is responsible for building the AC 45 and bringing technology to the races so fans can watch from shore. The excitement is back. Bravo, Mr. Ellison.David Pollard
Brad Van Liew: The 43-year-old sums up his approach to life this way: “Full noise or no noise.” He wears it on the sleeve of his sailing shirts, and it’s his way of telling the world that a person should put up or shut up. Van Liew is one of the most successful single-handed racing sailors the United States has ever had. His most recent triumph was winning every stage of the 2010-2011 Velux 5 Oceans solo race around the world aboard the revamped 2000 Open 60 Le Pingouin, which fits into the new Eco 60 class. In doing so, he became the first American to win overall in the race’s eight editions, and he did so without corporate sponsorship.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) awarded Capt. Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry, the 2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. Capt. Seog’s ship was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in January 2011. While the pirates were on board the ship, Capt. Seog steered the vessel away from the Somali coast, watered down the fuel to prevent combustion, pretended the steering gear wasn’t properly working, reduced the vessel’s speed and secretly communicated information to naval forces. Most amazing, Capt. Seog managed to do all this while being subjected to a series of assaults by the pirates, who fractured his legs and shoulders. He was also shot twice in the abdomen and once in the upper thigh, very nearly dying. Thanks to his daring, a dramatic raid rescued all 21 crew members. Eight pirates were killed and five were captured.