Main photo: The fleet of 46 boats jostling for a prime spot at the start of in a strongly contested race across Port Phillip Bay from Port Melbourne to Blairgowrie on Saturday morning.

The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) has scooped the 2021 Australian Sailing Victoria Awards, being named Victorian Club of the Year, receiving the Sport Promotion award, while ORCV Life member Robin Hewitt received the Lifetime Achievement award.

These awards followed on the back of another ORCV member, Peter Davison, being named Victorian Offshore Sailor of the Year.

“There is no greater honour than to be recognised by one’s peers, and for that I thank you all,” Hewitt said of his Lifetime Achievement award.

“Since my involvement in training, there have been several what could have been serious incidents, all reported back as safe, due to the lessons imparted by the ORCV training team and the assistance of the many willing club volunteers.”

Lifetime Achievement award for Robin Hewitt

Hewitt’s long-term commitment to offshore racing, and other aspects of the sport, both on the water and ashore, also culminated in his being named 2015 Victorian Ocean Racer of the Year.

Commenting on the awards sent ORCV’s way, Commodore Grant Dunoon said he was thrilled to see the Club receive so many accolades in what has been a tough climate for sailing in Australia these past 18 months because of the pandemic.

“Our membership is up 40 percent, fleets for our Cat 2 ocean races have grown by 60 percent, with training pivoting to online. And our Cock of the Bay race the largest we have seen in recent times,” the Commodore explained.

This year, the ORCV introduced a rally to King Island with seven boats taking part and a number now working their way through to taking part in the Club’s Cat 2 races. The rally was based on Cat 3 requirements and good weather.

“Our training teams are now transitioning the traditional classroom theory subjects into an online eLearning format with Immediate Past Commodore, Martin Vaughan, leading the way with the Safety and Sea Survival (SSSC) refresher course,” Commodore Dunoon said.

The Club has also implemented the SSSC full course, Incident Management Training, Port Phillip Bay Heads Entry/Exit Rip Tour, Navigation Course and Robin Hewitt’s Weather Course.

This year, the Club also held the first Bowman’s Course. The brainchild of former America’s Cup bowman and international yachtsman Peter Dowdney, the Ronstan Australasian Sales Manager shared his immense years of experience with attendees. Together with Martin Vaughan and Mark Welsh, Dowdney delivered a well-received course.

“We pride ourselves in connecting the sailing community and building comradery across clubs. This year we’ve put special emphasis on building relationships with our members and kindred clubs,” Commodore Dunoon said.

“The Club’s outstanding results and the awards received would not be possible without the 78 wonderful volunteers who have given so much of their time from running the races to our training courses,” he ended.

An active participant of women in sailing, since the inception of Ocean Girls and the Women Skippers and Navigators Race (WSNR) back in 2013, the ORCV has demonstrated a growing commitment to supporting female sailors and novices. This was shown in the record number of 16 female skippers and navigators registered for this year’s WSNR. The Club is also involved with SheSails.

The Club also continues to regularly promote its races, courses, new initiatives and programs, including double-handed racing and Four + Autohelm and others mentioned above, to the wider public.

Di Pearson
ORCV media