Patrick van Eyssen (NSRI)

Winner of the Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement

Patrick van Eyssen is the 2021 IMRF Awards winner of the Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has been an operational National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) volunteer for 50 years, 48 of them as a Coxswain, including two periods totaling 13 years, as a Station Commander at the Cape Town Station 3 Sea Rescue base.

Four years after the first NSRI volunteers established the organization in Cape Town in 1967, nineteen-year-old Patrick van Eyssen, known as Pat, was accepted as a volunteer at the NSRI’s Station 1 in Cape Town harbour. Pat had been involved in boating and fishing from a young age and is one of those people who has a natural feel for the ocean.

Two years after joining he qualified as a coxswain, a position that he still holds on Sea Rescue’s Class 1 off-shore rescue boat. In the early days of the NSRI, the Sea Rescue vessel with the call sign Rescue 1, based at Cape Town, would regularly be asked to respond to incidents at the edge of her range … sometimes as far as 90 nautical miles offshore, unsupported.

It was these long distance rescues, which required precision navigation, well before modern GPS technology, as well the Air Sea Rescue missions for which he volunteered, that kept the young coxswain on his toes. Pat is an exceptional coxswain who has led many successful rescue missions in the treacherous conditions off the coast off Cape Town, South Africa, infamously known as “The Cape of Storms.”

This year, at the age of 69, Pat van Eyssen is the only NSRI volunteer with an awe inspiring 50 years’ active service who is still operational as a duty coxswain. He has twice served as Station Commander of Cape Town’s flag ship station in the V&A Waterfront. His first stint at the helm of Station 3 was from 2001 to 2010, and after a short break he was re-elected Station Commander in October 2012 to 2016. Pat ran a tight station with great care and kindness.

If not actually at the helm of Rescue 1 or Rescue 3, Pat always endeavored to be in the rescue base, offering advice to those who were at sea and waiting for the rescue crews to return safely to the station. During his time in command, Station 3 carried out 214 operations, rescued 417 persons, towed 61 vessels to safety and assisted a further 261 craft; an indication of the vital part played by this station in assisting persons in trouble off the City of Cape Town.

Over his time of serving the NSRI, Pat has accumulated an impressive 2569.25 hours as a volunteer at sea. He has taken part in 167 rescue operations, most of which he has led as the Class 1 on-scene commander. He has made an enormous lifetime contribution to the maritime SAR sector, and the NSRI is greatly indebted to Pat, not only for his own exceptional service, but also for all the people he has trained to follow in his footsteps in a life lived in, and for, maritime SAR.

Photo Gallery

IMRF Awards 2021 - Finalists

View the Photos in Flickr


the Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement The IMRF Awards 2021 - The Final Results - Full Video