There was a new award at this year’s Gloucester Schooner Festival: The Amanda Madeira Award for the George Nichols Cup, for the women at the wheel for the races on Sunday. When I envisioned the inclusion of an award for women skippers, the role model I had in mind was, of course, Amanda. The George Nichols Cup was originally offered by his wife Ann, after Dr. Nichols passed away in 1989. The award, a beautiful silver trophy that resides in the Gorton Schooner Gallery at Maritime Gloucester, was for outstanding seamanship, to be presented at the Schooner Festival each year. The award was not necessarily offered every year, being one of those awards that only need be presented when the circumstances called for it. Ann Nichols concurred that George would not have wanted us to award it unless there was an outstanding candidate.
This year, I suggested to Ann that we repurpose this award for women skippers during the schooner races, a suggestion which she wholeheartedly supported. Amanda Madeira had worked for George Nichols on Regina Maris many years ago, and, early on exhibited leadership and skills that led to her many years as captain and Education Programs director on the Schooner Ernestina, among many other significant vessels, including the Bowdoin, Corwith Cramer, Harvey Gamage, Highlander Sea (formerly Pilot), and When & If.
When I first met Amanda in 1985, she was the captain of a schooner chartering out of Gloucester, the Norfolk Rover. She and I became friends, as I was with the only other schooner chartering at that time, with Morning Star. I’m older than Amanda, but my first instinct was to wish that I could be Amanda when I grew up. What a superior person, in so many ways, and the ideal role model for men and women who aspire to take the helm.
As an educator, artist, captain and friend, I am honored to name the new award: The Amanda Madeira Award for the George Nichols Cup, to be awarded each year for the women at the wheel for the Gloucester Schooner Festival.
To this year’s winning skippers: Jill Hughes on Hindu, Christy Phillips on Voyager, and Leigh Woodling on Maryland's Adventure, congratulations. And congratulations to Amanda for establishing the standard!
Daisy Nell - Gloucester Schooner Festival Committee Chair