The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has presented its 2009 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea to U.S. sailors Maurice and Sophie Conti for rescuing three people from a sunken yacht in heavy weather off a remote reef.
On the night of October 13, 2008, the Contis were aboard their Catana 471 catamaran Ocealys, far out in the South Pacific, when they picked up a distress call from the yacht Timella, which had struck a reef two and a half hours sailing time away.
The Contis immediately contacted the authorities in New Zealand and Fiji, but because of Timella’s remote location, they had to rescue her three-member crew on their own, despite the heavy weather
The government of New Zealand nominated the Contis for the award, a silver medal depicting a search and rescue operation on one side and the IMO logo on the other. IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos presented the Contis with the award during a ceremony at IMO headquarters in London.
Established by the United Nations in 1948, the mission of the IMO, which has 168 member states, is to ensure marine safety and prevent pollution on the high seas.