At the 2017 Explorers Club Annual Dinner, Ocean Elders Nainoa Thompson and Prof. Bertrand Piccard received the most prestigious recognition in exploration – the Explorers Club Medal. The award is given each year for extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity. Nainoa Thompson received the medal for his historic work on Polynesian wayfinding and the Hōkūleʻa. Prof. Piccard received the medal along with Andre Borschberg for their solar powered circumnavigation in Solar Impulse.
The Hōkūle‘a is one of two Polynesian voyaging canoes that are circumnavigating the world as part of the the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia began the worldwide voyage in 2013 to grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world and will cover more than 60,000 nautical miles, 100 ports, and 27 nations, including 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites. Both the Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia are traditional Polynesian doublehulled canoes that use only ancient wayfinding practices – navigating without modern instruments, using stars, winds and waves.
In 2016, Prof. Piccard and Mr. Borschberg completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in their solar aircraft, Solar Impulse, with no fuel. In total, they flew flew 40,000 km in an effort to promote the use of renewable energies and energy efficiency.
Mr. Thompson and Prof. Piccard join fellow Ocean Elders in receiving the Explorers Club Medal, including Dr. Jane Goodall (1993), Dr. Sylvia Earle (1996), Captain Don Walsh (2001), Dr. E.O. Wilson (2009), Dr. Wade Davis (2011), James Cameron (2013) and Dr. Walter Munk (2014). The Piccard family received the Explorers Club Medal in 2000.