Rear-Admiral Roberto Benavente.
In May 1937 the founding meeting of the Amicale des Capitains au Long Cours Cap Horniers Francais took place, when the statutes were approved specifying the objectives of the organization and establishing the category of each one of its members, assigning the title of “Albatross” to those who had sailed round the Cape in command of a sailing ship; “Malamok” or “Molly Hawks” to the officers and “Cape Doves” to the remaining crew members.
The first president of the organization, named the “Grand Mât” (Main Mast) was Captain Louis Allaire, who drew up the statutes and designed the Amicale emblems.
When the Second World War was declared, the institution suspended its activities, reinitiating them in 1949, when the French decided to invite captains of other countries to join who fulfilled the already established basic requirements. Belgium and Great Britain were the first countries incorporated in 1949, and justified the amendment of the original name of the entity, which then became "Amicale Internationale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers".
In 1954 the French members invited German Captain Walther von Zatorski to join, proposing that he establish a German section, which effectively took place. A year later – in 1955 – the French directors invited a group of 14 German captains to participate in its annual reunion, delegation which was headed by Captain Carsten Rosenhagen. On this occasion, the Annual Meeting unanimously approved acceptance of Germany as a participating member of Amicale. In his words of thanks, Captain Rosenhagen ended by pointing out that the differences arising from the war having been overcome, a new stage now lay ahead of peace, companionship, solidarity and friendship between mariners, finishing his speech with the French expression “Vive l’esprit de Saint Malo”, which from that day on came to be used as a farewell expression in all official Amicale communications. With the passage of time, Amicale Internationale came to incorporate 15 countries: Germany, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, United States of America, Finland, France, Holland, Great Britain, Aland Islands, Italy, Norway and Sweden. The association grew to over 1,000 members, who met each year in a different country.
In the convention which took place in Nyborg, Denmark in the year 2002, the General Meeting agreed to end the Amicale activities in the year 2003, taking into consideration the advanced age and limited capabilities of its original members, resolving to reject amendments to the statutes to prolong its existence, resigning themselves to die with dignity.
The last Congress held on 15th May 2003 at the same “Hotel de l’Univers” in Saint Malo, brought the Amicale activities to an end. The Meeting agreed that all Sections wishing to continue activities could do so independently, complying with their respective statutes.
II. THE CHILEAN BROTHERHOOD OF CAPE HORN CAPTAINS.
In 1978, Navy Captain Luis Mesías González crossed the Cape Horn meridian in command of the Navy yacht “Blanca Estela”. In the belief that the Cap Horniers originated in Germany, he established contact with the Cap Horniers in the Elbe river district of Hamburg, who incorporated him in their organization and asked him to establish in Chile a brotherhood similar to the German one.
Later, having been informed of the existence of Amicale Internationale with headquarters in France, Captain Mesías suggested to the then Commander in Chief of the Chilean Navy, Admiral José Toribio Merino Castro, that negotiations be started to create the Chilean brotherhood of Cape Horn Captains, said proposal being duly authorized by the highest Naval authority, but unfortunately it was not possible to carry it out at that time.
In 1984, Rear Admiral Jorge Sepúlveda Ortíz, who was then Head of the Chilean Naval Mission in England, heard of the existence of Amicale. On his return to Chile, he became Head of the Advisory Group of Admiral J.T. Merino, member of the Honourable Government Junta, who he informed of his idea to establish a Chilean brotherhood of Cape Horn Captains. For this to materialize, he invited certain Merchant Marine captains who had rounded Cape Horn in sailing ships to a meeting so as to study the situation and analyze the possibilities of incorporating Chile as an Amicale member. Also present at this first meeting was a group of high ranking Naval officers, when it was agreed to prepare the background data and documents required by Chilean legislation to create a brotherhood.
Rear Admiral J. Sepúlveda was accompanied by National Merchant Marine High Seas Captains Raúl Bennewitz, Pedro Cárcamo and Carlos de Caso and the high ranking naval officers Captain Eduardo Barison and Luis Mesías, Commander (Retired) Arturo de la Barrera and Lt. Commander Alejandro Armstrong.
With the collaboration of those mentioned, plus the help provided by the engineer Pedro Sapunar Peric – who obtained a copy of the Amicale statutes and insignias – the Chilean archaeologist resident in Holland, Omar Ortiz Troncoso – who encouraged the idea of creating the Chilean brotherhood, Lt. Commander (J) Julio Leiva Valdés - who collaborated in the wording and abridged the statutes in a public deed to give the brotherhood legal standing, the negotiation carried out by his father, Notary Julio Lavín Ahumada, and the Commander (R) A. de la Barrera W. who designed the distinctive shield of the brotherhood and the blazer, cap, lapel insignias for the active members (red background) and special members (blue background), the statute was drafted and officially recorded establishing the objectives of the organization, membership requirements and categories of the members.
On 17th November 1987 the Chilean Brotherhood of Cape Horn Captains was constituted in Valparaíso, association for the purpose of grouping together as active brothers the Chilean Merchant Marine captains and commanders of Chilean Navy vessels who had sailed – navigating “in command” of surface or submergible ships or vessels, selfpropelled or under sail, without tonnage discrimination – the sixty-seven degree sixteen minute longitude west of Greenwich meridian, corresponding to Cape Horn. Yacht skippers could be incorporated as special members.
Its first Board of Directors, which appears in Exempt Resolution Nº 686 dated 30th May 1988, of the Region V Valparaíso Intendency , was the following:
Having completed the first stage, Vice Admiral J. Sepúlveda O. entrusted the Chilean Naval Attaché in France, Commander Hernán Couyoumdijian Bergamali, with the negotiations required for the Chilean Brotherhood to be accepted as a Section of the Amicale Internationale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers – AICH – headquartered in Saint Malo, France.
Commander H. Couyoumdjian B. carried out the negotiations actively and effectively, establishing contact with the Amicale and successfully being invited by its president, French Captain Juan Perdraut, to attend the AICH congress which was to take place in Saint Malo in April 1988.
During the meeting, our representative made known details relating to Chile’s sovereignty over Cape Horn and adjacent areas, as well as the active participation of the Chilean Navy in the development of the area and its contribution to navigational safety, plus Chile’s extensive sailing tradition in those latitudes, giving importance to the recent establishment of the Chilean brotherhood, with three merchant navy captains participating, one of whom had crossed the Cape meridian in 1946 in command of the schooner “Cóndor”.
While in France, Commander Couyoumdjian kept in touch with some French Cap Horniers and at the beginning of 1988 he received an invitation to attend the 1989 congress to take place in Turku, Finland, where Chile’s incorporation to Amicale or rejection would be voted on.
Notwithstanding his early inscription, the Naval Attaché was unable to attend this meeting due to an unexpected visit from the Director General of the Chilean Navy Services, who travelled to France on business relating to his position, and who he had to accompany.
On 13th June 1989, while on this visit, he received the following telegram from Turku: “J-ai le plaisir de vous informer que la Section Chiliénne a été accepté par l’Amicale Internationale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers. Signed, Jean Perdraut”.
The good news was communicated to the president of the Chilean brotherhood and, from that date onwards, our brotherhood maintained a permanent relationship with Amicale, participating in annual congresses in different countries, including two international meetings held in Chile.
III. CHILEAN BROTHERHOOD ACTIVITIES.
As from its establishment, the Chilean brotherhood has carried out and participated in numerous activities, of which it is important to highlight the following:
Since it was founded, the members of the Brotherhood have met once a month, normally at the Naval Club in Valparaíso. The November reunion, to commemorate the institution’s anniversary, is held with the members’ wives participating. Diplomas are handed out at this meeting to the members who, in accordance with the Statutes, become Honorary Active Members.
During the monthly reunions, participation in an activity of professional interest frequently takes place, visiting new Navy units or divisions of special interest.
The Commander in Chief of the Navy is Honorary President of the Brotherhood. For that reason, each time a new authority is invested as such, the Brotherhood has paid him due tribute.
In view of the undersigned having been President of the Chilean Brotherhood for 14 years (1996 – 2010), on 8th June 2010 the General Meeting resolved – by acclamation – to designate him Honorary President and entrusted him with advising the Board of Directors of the Brotherhood in its relations with foreign countries.
Whenever necessary, the Brotherhood has assisted mariners requesting information on the Cape Horn area and has collaborated in publicizing information on regattas rounding Cape Horn (“Portimao Global Ocean Race” regatta and “South American Sails 2010”).
While Amicale was still active, all written communications ended with the phrase “in the Spirit of Saint Malo”. When the AICH officially terminated its activities, in May 2003, the Chilean brotherhood replaced this expression with “In the Spirit of Cape Horn”, which has been accepted by the Cap Hornier organizations still active in the rest of the world. This expression synthesizes the characteristics and values Cap Horniers must represent, which we inherited from those old and intrepid sailing ship captains who vanquished Cape Horn: candid friendship, loyal comradeship, spirit of solidarity, courage, leadership and sense of responsibility.
The new Brotherhood statutes, approved by Exempt Decree Nº 3515 dated 10th November 2005, published in the Official Journal dated 23rd November 2005, signified a radical change for the institution since, at the same time as updating their procedures adjusting them to the modern features and methods of digital technology, they established:
As of 10th November 2010, the Brotherhood has 7 Founding members, 91 Active members, 31 Honorary Active members, 72 Collaborating members and 13 Honorary members. The sisters Annie, Edith and Henriette Mehrckens rounded Cape Horn aboard the bark “María” in 1924, with their father, Captain Enrique Mehrckens. The three sisters are “Cape Doves”, practically since the Brotherhood was founded.
At the present time, the following are Founding Members: Captain Eduardo Barison R., Vice Admiral Hernán Couyoumdian B., Commander Arturo de la Barrera W., Captain Luis Mesías G., Vice Admiral Jorge Sepúlveda O., Rear Admiral Eri Solís O. and Vice Admiral Juan Carlos Toledo de la M.
Valparaíso, 10th November, 2010.
Roberto BENAVENTE Mercado