A BARRY seafaring legend is hoping to raise a glass to boating excellence after judges steered his course towards a maritime hero contest.

Former RNLI Barry Dock lifeboat coxswain and Barry Island resident John Hart is one of 30 people, nationwide, who has won through to a new initiative - The Old Pulteney Maritime Hero Awards - and its semi final.

Barry Yacht Club nominated the 73-year-old granddad-of-two for his outstanding club service.

The Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky company launched the scheme in June to reward the outstanding passion, commitment and achievements demonstrated within Britain's maritime communities, at both a local and national level. 

It asked UK sailing clubs asking them to nominate any members they felt deserved recognition within the categories club service, bravery or sailing achievement.

The Old Pulteney judging panel selected John for his tireless work in and out of recreational boating.

John was coxswain of the Bristol Channel Pilot Boat for 30 years and the coxswain of Barry Dock Lifeboat during the same period.

His reputation as a boat handler was so good that the RNLI have used him to train their top trainers since 1990.

His various roles include Royal Yacht Association Sailing School Principle, RYA examiner and the face of RYA Yachts Master Training and John's boat and boat handling knowledge has been respected over the years.

He met and received an award from HRH Princess Anne in 1990.

John, who said he liked a drop of lemonade in his whisky, said: "We used to carry brandy on the lifeboat.

"There was sealing wax on the lid.

"Once it was opened it couldn't be put back!"

"£1000 would help Barry Yacht Club - it's a small club and it would be a nice bonus for the club."    

Old Pulteney has presented John with a Maritime Heroes Awards certificate and bottle of its award-winning 12 Year Old Single Malt.

The second stage of the awards will take place on October 30, when three finalists will be selected.

Each finalist will win £1000 for their sailing club, a 17 Year Old bottle of Old Pulteney and a commemorative shield.

The December final will see the 2012 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Awards winner crowned and presented with a specially engraved trophy and a £1000 personal cheque.

Senior brand manager, Margaret Mary Clarke said Old Pulteney was delighted to name John as one of its Maritime Heroes. 

She said: "His achievements really stood out from the many fantastic entries we received and we wish him the best of luck in the finals."