November 2007

Shark Story Wins West Marine Award For Top Boating Article

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Chris Chivers, a freelance writer of fishing articles and foreign correspondent for The New York Times, has won the top award Boating Writer’s International gives to a boating writer: The West Marine Writer's Award. Chivers, currently on assignment in Russia, has earned a $5,000 check and a Lucite tower trophy, announced at a formal presentation during the BWI membership meeting at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Chivers wrote “Behemoth,” which appeared in the February 2006 issue of Salt Water Sportsman Magazine. It offered a carefully crafted profile of the three anglers who happened upon a shark that was nearly as big as their boat, and then described in suspenseful detail how they caught it.

The story ends revealing how today, 15 years after the catch, the captain of the fishing boat visits classrooms with the set of stunning jaws and tells kids about the need to save what sharks are left. The article was first recognized in the Boating Profiles category earlier this year, one of 45 award winners in the 2006 BWI annual Writing Contest. The top three entries in each of 15 writing categories were automatically entered for this grand prize.

Judges called Chivers’ entry, “A compelling story of three men in a 23-foot boat who landed a 15.5 -foot, 2,900-pound great white shark! And, they brought in the ferocious catch with a rod and reel.

“The writing is crisp and fast-moving. The character development is excellent. The quotes are as good as they get. The accompanying photos and illustrations, by the way, are illuminating and help make this a first-class package that is clearly the Best in Show.”

Judges for the West Marine Writer's Award are associated with Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and have had careers in newspapers, magazines and broadcasting. They include Richard J. Roth, senior associate dean; David Nelson, associate professor, and Michele Bitoun, assistant professor.

To read or download a PDF version of "Behemoth," click here or paste the following URL in your browser address window:

Several additional entries were cited by the judging team for recognition:

  • Runner-Up: “Hurricane Baby,” by Martha LaGuardia Kotite, from the book So Others May LiveCoast Guard Rescue Swimmers: Saving Lives, Defying Death. This is the action-packed adventure story of Mario Vittone, hero. The story is told straight, letting the gripping real-life detail provide all that is necessary to keep you turning the pages. A terrific read.”
  • Honorable Mentions: “Boating’s Peerless Idea Man,” a boating profile by Douglas A. Campbell (Soundings, Oct. 2006); and “Made In China,” a “Business of Boating” article by Jim Flannery (Soundings, Nov. 2006).

West Marine, Inc. marked its fourth year of sponsorship of the top writing award. A retailer of boating supplies and accessories, it has nearly 400 stores located in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. BWI is a non-profit professional organization consisting of writers, broadcasters, editors, publishers, photographers, public relations specialists and others in the communications profession associated with the boating industry. Members include active marine journalists across the United States, in Canada and around the world, supporting marine manufacturers and service entities, and associates in communication roles.

  Journalists interested in entering the BWI Annual Writing Contest, open until the end of this year, can find details by visiting