Wild Oats claims bragging rights in breakneck Big Boat Challenge
The predicted high winds and reaching conditions combined to produce a lightning quick SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour on 13 December.
As Wild Oats XI and Investec Loyal hit the line side by side for the start, the two crews were within shouting distance, but by the finish, ‘Oats’ was well out of earshot.
On the harbour, south sou’westerly winds averaged 18 knots with gusts up to 23 knots out of Rose Bay and Rushcutters Bay as the fleet screamed up and down the course, side on to the prevailing breeze.
Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI took the finish gun off the Opera House three minutes ahead of Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal. Grant Wharington’s revamped 98 footer Wild Thing placed third… despite being late to leave the dock after making repairs to damage incurred during the previous day’s storm in Sydney.
Oatley’s prizewinning 100 footer, skippered by Mark Richards, shook out a reef in its new North 3DI mainsail in the pre-start, showing they meant business in the ongoing chest beating between them and same sized super maxi Investec Loyal.
With five Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours wins and now five SOLAS Big Boat Challenge bullets under their belts, Richards and the rest of the crew can feel confident they are as well prepared as ever for the looming start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
“It’s a good, tight knit team and they back each other really well,” said Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards of his experienced crew.
The 14 nautical mile SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is a spectacular, adrenaline charged spin around the block whereas the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart is nothing short of an endurance test, but a win is a win and Bob Oatley has walked away content.
“We are getting very good at coming second to Wild Oats,” conceded Investec Loyal owner/skipper Anthony Bell, sighting issues with their furling spinnaker as one of their time wasting onboard dramas.
For the upcoming blue water classic Bell admits, “Wild Oats is the benchmark of Australian yachting. We have to be within striking distance [of them] and we are doing everything we can to do that.”
Wheelchair racing supremo Kurt Fearnley, who had his first experience of racing on Investec Loyal in preparation for the Sydney-Hobart gave his take on the Harbour sprint, admitting “it was good to be on the boat while it’s angry”.
“I’ve been part of some pretty good teams with my trips, three Paralympics and even the team that crossed Kokoda, we were a real tight unit. The intensity on the boat … I love that.
“I can’t wait to be out there on Boxing Day … I have that instinct of competition and you take it out on to the stage … that doesn’t change no matter what sport you do.”
Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan won the day on overall handicap. Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki, which is again a favourite for a Rolex Sydney Hobart overall win, was second overall.
Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98 foot maxi, Lahana, showed its IRC handicap potential in a decent wind with a third place overall.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge marked the start of the busy lead up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart and is one of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s major fundraising events for its Safety of Life at Sea Trusts.
A number of guests who successfully bid on eBay as part of SOLAS fundraising efforts enjoyed the whirl around the harbour as guests on competing yachts.
Close racing in Short Ocean Racing Championship
Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire and Peter Sorensen’s The Philosopher’s Club have been announced as the winners of Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s 34th Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC).
Following three windward/leeward races offshore on 27 November and a passage race the day before, Hooligan, a TP52 came out on top in Division 1, beating overnight leader, Terra Firma, the Cookson 50 owned by Victorian Nicholas Bartels, by one point after winning the final two races.
Hooligan, from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, has become ‘the boat to beat’; her latest claims to fame include being named the Audi IRC Australian champion in Class A in August and winning the 2011 Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.
“Terra Firma gave us a bit of curry. They were leading us when the first race was abandoned today. Going into the final race, we were on equal points,” Blackmore said.
Blackmore, who had winning America’s Cup yachtsman Grant Simmer calling tactics, admitted the crew work was a bit rusty.
“We’re not at the same level we were at Hamilton Island, but this regatta has been good to sharpen us up for the Rolex Trophy in a couple of weeks,” he said.
One of the regatta favourites, Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki, was forced to retire from the opening windward/leeward race, which was abandoned after Loki hit a mark that was being moved at an inopportune time, meaning the Division 1 yachts only sailed three of the intended four race series.
The Reichel/Pugh 63, with noted sailing master Gordon Maguire at the helm, was travelling at 20 knots plus and could do nothing to avoid the moving mark.
One of the favourites to take out the Rolex Sydney Hobart overall win this year, Loki was leading the race at the time. Owner Ainsworth was philosophical about his retirement.
“Thankfully it’s OK – a couple of heavy rope marks. We blew out our No. 4 spinnaker earlier today too, so we didn’t want to risk further damage with other major races and the Hobart coming up,” Ainsworth said.
The best competition on the day came in the Division 2 yachts. Darryl Hodgkinson sailed his Beneteau 45 Victoire to a one point victory over MHYC entry, Rob Reynolds’s DK46 Exile and a further five points to third placed Paul Clitheroe’s Balance.
With three different winners from the four races, and the finishes culminating in only seconds between the top boats, Hodgkinson, who is also an odds on favourite to win the Sydney-Hobart overall, said, “I am surprised and amazed we won.”
Sailing to a good lead over all of his opponents at the first windward mark in Race 2, Hodgkinson was overtaken at the windward mark the second time.
“We had a half broach,” he explained. “It was blowing 27 knots from the west and Sean Kirkjian (tactician) asked to take the helm for the gybe downwind, because it was quite hairy.
“It all went wrong from there; the brace jammed, we laid over, the boom was in the water and Danny (McConville) who was below decks at the time, said he saw fish!”
Exile won Race 3 between times, after ripping a spinnaker in the high winds that peaked at around 28 knots with big shifts and the pressure up and down.
In Division 3, the racing was just as close with Peter Sorensen keeping Andrew Hurt’s second placed Onya and third placed Jason Antill’s Even Finer at bay.
In the small Sydney 38 fleet, Mark Griffith’s Old School, was the victor.
New ’couta boat hoists a spar on the Derwent
The newest boat on the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s register, a beautifully crafted wooden ’couta boat named Darce, has ‘hoisted a spar’ on the River Derwent.
The name Darce honours the late Bruce ‘Darce’ Darcey, one of Tasmania’s outstanding craftsmen in wooden boat building, who had almost completed building the ’couta boat when he died early last year.
The boat is a replica of the famous Queenscliff gaff-rigged ’couta boats that fished for barracouta in Bass Strait in the early 1900s, their base being the historic fishing village just inside Port Phillip. Their catches became an integral part of the fish ‘n’ chips business in Melbourne, the fastest boats to sail back to Sorrento getting the best price for the fish.
Over the past 25 years, ’couta boats, both restored originals and replicas, have become widely popular among recreational yachtsmen, with regular regattas held on Melbourne’s Port Phillip at Sorrento. There are now at least three replica ’couta boats in Tasmania.
Under the guidance of Bruce Darcey’s two partners in the ’couta boat, Incat chairman Robert Clifford and Peter Fuglsang, Bruce’s project has been completed, and his widow Mrs Sadie Darcy officially named and launched Darce at Battery Point last month.
RYCT Vice Commodore Roger Martin presented the owners with a club burgee and within a short time Bob Clifford, Peter Fuglsang and Tim Phillips, from Sorrento, Victoria, who designed the boat from original ’couta boat plans, ‘hoisted a spar’ and took Darce for an exhilarating sail in a fresh sea breeze.
All three owners had built wooden boats at various times of their lives, but Darcey was the consummate professional, building around 50 yachts and motor boats. He worked at Incat for 20 years where he was in charge of the interior fit-out of more than 40 vessels made by the world-famous shipbuilding company.
His most notable achievements included a classic timber speedboat, a replica whaleboat, the 45ft cruiser/sailer Evening Tide, the racing yacht Atilla and his own 42ft dreamboat Estella. Everything reflected his remarkable skills.
The ’couta boat project came about on a summer’s day in 2010. Sitting having a beer at Cygnet Regatta, Robert, Bruce, ‘Biddy’ Badenach and others watched two ’couta boats sail past. Within a few months Bruce was convinced that it was time to build one more boat. Plans were drawn up and work started mid-winter of 2010.
Working mostly alone, Bruce had the sheer plank on by Christmas, but over the holiday period he fell ill and passed away on 6 February 2011.
The part completed boat attracted much attention as a working exhibit at the Australia Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. The owners, and Darce’s former Incat colleagues, worked from February to July completing the boat, which is built of King Billy Pine, Celery Top Pine and Huon Pine.
Speaking at the launch, Robert Clifford said the ’couta boat was a fitting tribute to his friend and colleague of 20 years.
“It was finished by Incat tradesmen in honour of him,” Clifford said.
And from what Robert Clifford implied, there could be more wooden boats built at Incat.
Coltman wins Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship
New Zealander Tim Coltman and his crew of Emma Berry and Matthew Clough have won the Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship, defeating the defending champion Jay Griffin from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in November.
It was a replay of last year’s grand final but with a different outcome for the Royal Port Nicholson YC’s Coltman this time round. Coltman needed only four matches to defeat Griffin, getting the lead early in the grand final winning the first two matches and forcing Griffin to fight for his life.
“That was an epic battle!” Coltman said as he stepped on the dock. “It was reminiscent of last year – we both came into today with a bit to do.”
Both Coltman and Griffin started the day, each down one match in their respective semi-final matches. Both went on to win their next two races and make their way to the Championship final.
“The showdown was set and the battle began. I was pretty happy to get two race wins on the scorecard. Jay fought back – as he always does – and took the third match.
“It really was a case of deja-vu in the fourth (and last) match. Jay had the lead up to the top mark and got a penalty for going inside us at the mark. He then also managed to get another penalty which meant he immediately had to wipe off one.
“We had to fight hard to hold Jay out on the downwind leg and my bowman Matt and I were freaking out as we were in exactly the same position last year and lost. We’d learnt from last year and managed to take the win by a kite puff,” Coltman added.
Runner-up Griffin said they had a really tough semi-final against Chris Steele (RNZYS).
“Chris’s a great talent and I was pleased that we made it through to the final,” he said.
“In the first two matches of the grand final Tim just beat us – he had better crew work and was better around the course than we were. We got the win in the third match and only really lost the last match by the smallest of margins.
“It was tough getting a double penalty at the top mark; we had to do one penalty turn immediately. After completing the turn we extended out to the left hand side of course as there was lots more breeze and managed to gybe back in front of Tim.
“We still had one penalty on us so it was a gybing duel and we tried to luff Tim out. We dropped our chute right inside the finish line to undertake our penalty turn and then set off for the finish line and there was really only one puff of breeze in it,” Griffin concluded.
Officially, Coltman won the fourth match by two seconds and was crowned the 2011 Musto International Youth Match Racing Champion.
Earlier in the day the petit final and minor placing sail-off were conducted. Jordan Reece (RSYS) would only need two matches to defeat Chris Steele and secure the final podium position.
Tribute to bushfire town as Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark launches Svitzer Marysville tug in Melbourne
Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark launched Australia’s newest tugboat Svitzer Marysville at Docklands in Melbourne, in honour of the bushfire devastated township of Marysville.
The ceremony was also attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark during the couple’s recent visit to Australia in November.
Forty five of Marysville’s 500 people lost their lives and ninety percent of the town’s homes and buildings were destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires north-east of Melbourne in February 2009. The fires have been recorded as one of Australia’s worst ever disasters.
Her name also underscores the links between the Svitzer company’s Danish heritage and its strong presence in Australia.
Australian-born Crown Princess Mary doused the tug’s bow with champagne, before boarding for an inspection with Crown Prince Frederick and other dignitaries including Murrindindi Shire Mayor Cr Peter Beales and Denmark-based Svitzer CEO Jesper Lok.
The Crown Prince couple also met with residents of Marysville invited to Docklands for the occasion, including firefighters from Marysville Volunteer Fire Brigade and students from Marysville and Buxton Primary Schools.
“Given her disposition for providing support and inspiration to others, it is with great pride that we welcome Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark,” Svitzer Australia Managing Director Mark Malone told a gathering of 250 invited guests and media representatives from around the world.
“We’ve learned a great deal from Marysville and its people. About suffering and surviving. Bonding and rebuilding. About what makes a community a community, in every true sense of the word.
“As maritime tradition usually dictates, all good vessels should take the name of a good lady, or location. When it came to this tug before us, we thought why not both?
Jesper Lok said the Royal presence made for a unique tug launch.
“The symbolic significance of the event and the presence of the Crown Prince couple has made this one of the most memorable tug naming launches in Svitzer’s 170 year history,” Mr Lok said.
“We are indebted to the Crown Prince couple for attending the naming ceremony. We want our vessel Svitzer Marysville to be a long lasting reminder of Marysville the town and its extraordinary people.”
Built by Damen Shipyards at Song Cam Haiphong in Vietnam, Svitzer Marysville weighs 250 tonnes. She has bollard pull of 68 tonnes. She is 24.5 metres long, and has a service speed of 12.5 knots. She is powered by twin Catepillar 3516C engines.
Headquartered in Copenhagen, Svitzer operates a global fleet of more than 540 vessels in 35 countries and provides safety and support services at sea. Their core services include towage, harbour, emergency response and salvage.
Svitzer Australia operates more than 140 vessels – including 80 frontline harbour tugboats – and performs lines handling, mooring, bunkering, barging and salvage services. It is well known for major salvage accomplishments including the Pasha Bulker Coal Carrier (Newcastle 2007) and Shen Neng 1 Coal Carrier (Great Barrier Reef, 2010) refloats, and the dismantling of the burnt West Atlas Oil Rig (Timor Sea, 2010). Svitzer is currently working on the salvage of the Rena Container Carrier in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
Eight Bells for John Ivimey founder of Boat Books
John Ivimey, the founder of Boat Books Australia, the Crows Nest-based specialist nautical bookshop and Admiralty chart suppliers, has died after an extended illness at Tamworth, to where he retired some years ago.
John, who was aged 79, ran Boat Books for more than 30 years, extending it to Boat Books in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, later opening the popular Cookery Book bookshop above his store in Crows Nest, the northern Sydney suburb. This also extended interstate.
During his time at Boat Books, John expanded it to become Australia’s largest specialist marine bookshop and chart agency, supplying both the professional and recreational sides of boating with topics ranging from boat building to yacht racing, navigation and world wide cruising.
He also encouraged Australian authors such as Alan Lucas and promoted the publication of their books, as well as actively supporting adventurers such as Ian Johnson and Cathy Hawkins in their round-the-world voyage in their little trimaran Twiggy.
John became an active harbour racing yachtsman, joining friends Fred Adam and Peter Campbell in having the Bonbridge 27 Hornblower built 33 years ago, fitting out the boat themselves.
John and Peter raced Hornblower in partnership for 20 years on Pittwater and Sydney Harbour until John retired from business and ‘went bush’ to Tamworth with his wife, Susan.
“John thoroughly enjoyed sailing on Hornblower and the crew always looked forward to the wonderful lunches he always provided for us all,” his longtime friend Peter Campbell said.
“He will be remembered for his great contribution to recreational boating by establishing Boat Books, especially by those yachtsmen and yachtswomen who bought from him books on navigation and the meticulously updated Admiralty charts as they learned to pilot their vessels around Australia and, indeed, the world.
“John loved life and his daughters tell me he was still enjoying a glass of whisky almost to the end of his long life,” Peter added.
At Tamworth, John lived an active life, contributing to the community through radio operations at the rural bushfire brigade, often working an eight hour shift at fire control and rising to the rank of Senior Deputy Captain before retiring. He also lectured on cryptic crosswords at the local U3A, “a mind-stetching exercise that still gives me a thrill when I get all of a cryptic out and can mentally say I’ve beaten the computer,” John wrote recently.
In Sydney, he was a member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia for many years and was very active in the Crows Nest Rotary Club.
John is survived by his wife Susan and daughters Beth, Jennie and Linde.
New BOA President an experienced ‘old salt’
The Boat Owners Association of NSW have elected a new President, Jeff Richards. His association with the BOA has a long history on the committee and as a past Vice-President. He also edited the newsletter.
Jeff has reconfirmed the BOA’s position as the peak body for recreational boating in NSW by working to promote closer working relationships with the various Ministers and their offices together with kindred interest government agencies and private organisations.
As always, the BOA will also continue to act as the watchdog to represent the recreational boater and to promote and protect the experience of recreational boating safety, enjoyment and value.
The BOA Committee comprises: President – Jeff Richards; Vice President – David Miles; Acting Secretary – Joann McKay (Public Officer); Treasurer – Edward Pieck; other committee members are Michael Chapman; Frank Downing and Dave Johnston (Hunter Region); Keith De Haan; Frank Talbot, David Dee and Max Clark.
BOA tel: 02 9960 1859; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Seawind Moreton Bay Regatta
The weekend long 5th annual Seawind Moreton Bay Regatta enjoyed some fresh conditions with a 15-20 nor’easterly blowing the fleet of a dozen Seawind catamarans around the Bay to the thrill of all the owners and crew onboard.
Hosted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron at Manly Boat Harbour, the event attracted boats and crew from around the SE Queensland region for three social races on the bay finishing at Canaipa on Russell Island with crews enjoying a BBQ presentation party on Saturday night.
On Friday night Cruising adventurer, Lloyd Price had a packed crowd of over 70 people listening closely to his tales of sailing from the Gold Coast to Greece onboard his Seawind 1000 Deja Vu.
At the presentation party on Saturday evening, another special guest Brian Midgley had just arrived at Morton Bay after his year long adventure circumnavigating Australia solo onboard his Seawind 1000XL Truansea.
Alan and Kat Tasker won onboard their Seawind 1160 Talisker. Second were Warren and Debbie Kerswill onboard Seawind 1160 Phase Two, and Andrew and Aida Stevenson took out third on Seawind 1000XL Black Diamond.
The Moreton Bay Regatta is the last event of the year for the Seawind Cruising Club Series that also travels to Pittwater (Sydney), Jervis Bay, Botany Bay, the Whitsundays, the Abrohlos Islands (WA), Catalina Island (USA) and Mexico. Next year more events are planned to be added to the calendar including a regatta in Melbourne.
New director announced for Australian National Maritime Museum
The ANMM will have a new director next month, with the Minister for the Arts, The Hon Simon Crean MP announcing the appointment of Mr Kevin Sumption of the National Maritime Museum & Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London (UK) to the position.
Museum chairman Mr Peter Dexter AM, has welcomed the announcement and is looking forward to introducing Mr Sumption to the council and staff of the museum in the New Year.
“Kevin Sumption’s high-level experience in museum management, exhibition and program development and his strong background in maritime heritage will be of great value in this critical leadership role.
“The museum has many exciting projects and challenges ahead and as a recognised international expert in digital cultural content with specialist interest in mobile learning and outreach services, Mr Sumption is well-placed to lead the museum in its next stage of development,” said Mr Dexter.
For the past three years Mr Sumption has been the Director of Exhibitions & Programmes at the National Maritime Museum & Royal Observatory (UK).
Prior to moving to the UK, Mr Sumption was Associate Director at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum (2001-2008) and has been involved with other institutions and Commonwealth Government projects. He was also one of the founding curators of the Australian National Maritime Museum when it first opened to the public in 1991.
Mr Sumption replaces the outgoing director, Ms Mary-Louise Williams who, after 23 years at the museum including 12 years as director, is stepping down.
“In welcoming Kevin Sumption to the museum, I would also like to extend my deep appreciation to Mary-Louise for her many years of service, and for the strong foundations she has put in place for Kevin to build upon,” said Mr Dexter.
Mr Sumption will assume the position of director in mid-February.
Sir Arthur Weller
HM Bark Endeavour Foundation visionary and benefactor
Anglo-Australian maritime heritage has lost a great champion with the passing of Sir Arthur Weller CBE. Sir Arthur died peacefully at his home in Sydney on November 30. He was 82 and had long suffered the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease.
Arthur Weller was a Scot who served in the British merchant marine in the post war years before founding Citadel, his own marine reinsurance company where he remained chairman until his death. He was a generous and active benefactor across a wide range of maritime heritage organizations in the UK and Australia.
From 1989 to 1996 he served as Chairman of The Maritime Trust, the body charged the responsibility of preserving two of Britain’s key historic vessels, the 1869 clipper Cutty Sark and the ketch Gipsy Moth IV in which Sir Francis Chichester sailed solo around the world.
He maintained close links with Britain’s National Maritime Museum and in 1994 he presented the Museum with a life-size bronze sculpture of his great hero, Captain James Cook. The statue stands on a Portland stone plinth and shows Cook resplendent in the Royal Navy’s full dress uniform of the late 18th century, gazing up the Jubilee Avenue toward the famous Royal Observatory.
It was Arthur Weller who convinced the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, that the most appropriate bicentennial gift for the people of Australia would be a sail training ship. Mrs Thatcher, who was not one to dilly-dally, told Weller to get on with it. He did, astutely guiding the construction, fit-out and delivery of the magnificent brigantine, Young Endeavour.
After he and his family settled in Sydney, Arthur Weller continued to involve himself in maritime heritage and he became an office bearer of the Sydney Heritage Fleet. He was a generous benefactor both to the Sydney Maritime Museum and to the NSW State Library.
When Bond Corporation ran into financial difficulties and was unable to continue to fund the construction of the Endeavour Replica in Fremantle, Arthur Weller came to the rescue. A quiet but canny man, he knew exactly how to proceed. Gathering around him some of Australia’s most successful business brains, he formed the board of the HM Bark Endeavour Foundation and set about the monumental task of completing the ship. With Weller as chairman of the board, the Foundation had the credibility and integrity which was essential to the successful completion of the project.
He had the satisfaction not only of seeing the Endeavour Replica launched but in sending her on a triumphal circumnavigation of the globe.
In London he welcomed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on board the vessel which had become, in essence, Australia’s Flagship. In 1997 his work was duly recognized by the Queen with a knighthood bestowed at Buckingham Palace. Endeavour, which is currently completing a circumnavigation of Australia, now has pride of place as a permanent exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
At a memorial service in the chapel at HMAS Watson, his close friend and colleague, Rear Admiral Tony Horton and others paid tribute to his vision and his dogged determination: qualities that allowed him to complete projects that many others would have found impossible. We are all the beneficiaries of his stubborn ‘have-a-go’ spirit.
Sir Arthur Weller is survived by his wife Marea, their children, Tony and Jaci and five grandchildren.