Book Review by Bruce Stannard

Richard Bennett book Across Five Decades
Richard Bennett with his book Across Five Decades

Anyone who has had any association with the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race over the past 50 years will know the magnificent work of the world famous yachting photographer, Richard Bennett OAM. Thanks to Bennett’s creative genius and his willingness to literally put his life on the line for the sake of his daring aerial photography year after year, we now have access to a truly extraordinary body of work that captures the highlights one of the world’s premier ocean races. I doubt whether any other ocean race anywhere in the world can boast such a treasure trove of beautiful images, all the work of one single-minded individual.

Richard Bennett has now brought the whole glorious story together in a single large-format volume. His words and images give us both a bird’s eye view and a behind-the-scenes account of the defining moments in this blue-water classic. It also tells the story of how an avid adventurer became one of the world’s most identifiable and celebrated yacht race photographers.

This collector’s edition art book is presented in a strong clamshell case that measures 430 x 430mm including 110 pages and weighs a formidable 6.7 kg. The edition is limited to just 170 numbered and signed copies – the same number of boats that competed in the 75th anniversary race. It includes more than 70 of Bennett’s favourite and best-known photographs including the best images from that race. Hand-crafted from the highest quality materials, it can also include one image of a particular yacht from any year. In that sense, each copy could legitimately be described as ‘unique.’ The price: $4,995 is not, in my opinion excessive. Indeed, I think it represents extraordinary value. As a rare book, its value can only increase. It is and will remain a volume of intrinsic historic interest.

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