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Displaying items by tag: Gordon Maguire

With his fifth win of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race’s prized Tattersall Cup for overall victory – with the most recent wins being three in a row with Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban – ex-Pat Howth sailor Gordon Maguire has confirmed his position as one of Australia’s most accomplished offshore racer. His apparently easy-going demeanour disguises a will of steel when it comes to getting the best performance out of a boat, such that he is renowned for instinctively sensing the slightest change in wind conditions a nano-second before the electronic instruments give any indication.

He sailed the 2021 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race with the added emotions of having mourned - along with all the Irish sailing community - the death a fortnight ago at the age of 95 of his much-loved father Neville, an equally accomplished sailor, and this makes the 2021 win - coming as it does a clear 30 years after his first Sydney-Hobart race overall victory – something very special indeed.

Published in Sailor of the Month

When Gordon Maguire of Howth won his first Sydney-Hobart Race in 1991 helming Atara with Cork’s Harold Cudmore as skipper, he can scarcely have dreamed that thirty years later, he would proudly be holding the coveted Tattersall Cup for the overall winner for the fifth (or may be it’s the sixth) time, for he also had overall success with Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki.

Yet today (Friday, December 31st) it came true. In the Hobart summer sunshine, he and owner-skipper Matt Allen shared that rare experience in a very special moment of camaraderie which spoke volumes of how their dynamic interaction made the Botin/TP 52 Ichi Ban into one of the most all-round successful offshore racers in the world. And coming just a fortnight after he was grieving the death of his remarkable and equally-talented 95-year-old father Neville Maguire, it was a time of heightened emotions for one of the finest sailors Ireland has ever produced.

Published in Sydney to Hobart

Matt Allen’s Botin/TP 52 Ichi Ban, with Gordon Maguire of Howth as Sailing Master and a crew including Sean O’Rourke and Dublin-born Noel Drennan, has received the benefit of a remarkable reversal of fortune in the current Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, with her apparent loss of overall first place by three minutes to Sam Haynes’ lower-rated TP 52 Celestial being reversed by the Race Committee following Protest Committee findings on a situation which involved Celestial being out of VHF contact for 90 minutes.

The Federal Transport Authorities take safety very seriously in Australian offshore racing, following the six deaths in the storm-tossed 1998 Sydney-Hobart Race. Thus while youth offshore is often encouraged elsewhere, in Australia you have to be at least 18 years old to take part in a major offshore race. And continuous VHF watch is mandatory, mainly in order to prevent unnecessary SAR moblisation when a PLB alarm is accidentally activated.

Thus when Celestial proved to be uncontactable when this happened, it had inevitable after-effects. When Ichi Ban was made aware that the relatively close Celestial appeared to be having difficulty, she diverted for a few minutes, and has consequently been compensated by three minutes by the Committee.

But more severely, Celestial herself has been penalised by 40 minutes, which pushes her completely out of contention and leaves Ichi Ban as overall winner unless Sean Kearns little S & S 34 Azzuro can sail the final 30 miles to Hobart through the calm of the night at a freakish speed.

For Celestial’s crew, it’s a cruel outcome. Yet there’s no denying that Ichi Ban lost time by going out of her way to see if help was needed, and to alert them to their contact failure. And in fact, in looking at the demeanour of Celestial’s crew in Hobart after the finish, with the Protest Meeting in the formal board-room of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania looming on their personal horizon, you sense they knew they were in trouble.

Part of the trouble is that the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is such a high profile event, because it is in the middle of the Christmas/New Year holidays and maximum attention. Following on from that, the slightest perceived cutting of any slack in the very stringent safety requirements by the race authorities is simply not something to be contemplated at all.

Read the protest and decision here

Published in Sydney to Hobart

With his fourth overall win provided by the big-fleet 75th Rolex Sydney-Hobart race, Gordon Maguire was officially described at the prize-giving in Hobart as one of the world’s greatest offshore racers.

This latest victory is only one of the peaks in an exceptional career which - while it is now largely focused on Australia - has seen him achieve success globally, including wins in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Although now an Australian citizen, he maintains close links with family and friends in Ireland and is an inspiration to ocean racers worldwide.

Published in Sailor of the Month
Tagged under

The number one racing boat in Australia has been declared the overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart for a second time, as this morning Matt Allen was advised his TP52, Ichi Ban, was to yet again have its name engraved on the Tattersall Cup. Allen's crew includes sailing master Gordon Maguire (57), based in Sydney but originally from Howth Yacht Club in County Dublin. It is Maguire's fourth overall win of the Cup, the first being as far back as 1991 with John Storey in Atara.

Allen, a member of the Australian Olympic Committee and immediate past president of Australian Sailing, launched Ichi Ban in late December 2017. It has paid him back tenfold since. Some of the highlights include: 2017 – line and overall double in Newcastle Bass Island Race (its first race); won Rolex Sydney Hobart overall.

“To win again this year is just incredible,” Allen remarked, after sailing his 30th Sydney Hobart.

“We’ve spent so many years putting this boat together with two aims – winning the Sydney Hobart and winning the Blue Water Pointscore (BWPS),” the yachtsman said when told he had won both the race and the BWPS from Matt Donald and Chris Townsend’s Gweilo and Bob Steel and Craig Neil’s Quest – in both events.

In 2018, Allen skippered Ichi Ban to wins in the Australian Yachting Championships (won all eight races); Brisbane to Gladstone, Flinders Islet and Newcastle Bass Island and Bird Island races, and the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore. Ichi Ban was also named RORC Yacht of the Year.

In 2019, Ichi Ban’s wins included Division 1 of the Australian Yachting Championships; Adelaide Port Lincoln Race (also taking line honours), the Brisbane Hamilton Island, Flinders Islet and Newcastle Bass Island races. These performances landed the TP52 in the finals of the 2019 World Sailing Boat of the Year.

“I helped in the design process,” Allen said. “We put the right package together; the boat, crew and culture. We all just go and work and sail hard together; there are no egos on board. It’s a fulfilment of the sailing capability of the crew and the whole project.

“In 2016, I invited Gordon Maguire (a highly respected yachtsman) to have coffee with me and told him I was putting a new boat together. He has been with me since.

“Gordon, Anthony Merrington, Robert Greenhalgh, Dick Parker, Will (Oxley), James Paterson, Dav (Davin Conigrave) – his third win in nine races; Tim Sellars, Sean (O’Rourke), Charles Kosecki, James Corrie, Matiu (Te Hau), Ashley (Deeks) and Jeremy (Rae). A really amazing group of guys; experienced and calm.

“All the campaigns have really stepped up this year; people have tried to emulate what we have done. There’s no doubt about the competition in this race - in the 44 to 55 footers alone, it is incredible,” Allen said. “You wouldn’t find the competition we have in this race anywhere else in the world.

“We’ve had conditions to suit these boats the last few years in the Sydney Hobart. You go so fast in the north-easterlies; you go very fast. One year we’ll get southerlies again though.”

Allen has been blooded by some of legends in yachting. “I always remember my great sailing times with Lou Abrahams – he won two,” says Allen who raced with the great Victorian yachtsman when he won in 1983.

“I took some time out on that first afternoon to think about Lou and Trygve (Halvorsen), and others that I sailed with that meant something to me,” he said.

Reflecting on his and the crew’s win, Allen said, “It was right to the bitter end. We came around Tasman with a great lead on the others and then Gweilo came back within 2 miles. It would have been on – we would have had to match race them.

“We had to watch Quest (2008 winner, then 2015 winner as Balance, and runner-up to Ichi Ban in 2017 by just 10 minutes) too, and wondered how it would work out.”

Steel and Neil’s Quest was leading the race down the Tasmanian Coast, but found a parking lot that killed their chances.

“Envy Scooters is my previous TP52, and she was always there, sailing with us too,” said the yachtsman who thought the winners would come from the 60 footers down to as small as Daguet 3 (a Ker 46).

“We didn’t go upwind enough to open the door for the smaller boats. The closer we got to the finish, we thought the smaller boats would get shutdown. We were confident that if it came down to the TPs, we were in the box seat.”

In the end, TP52s claimed the top three places overall, with Ichi Ban first, Gweilo second and Quest third.

“We knew we had to beat Quest by over an hour to win,” Allen said of the yacht that has twice won the race and was looking good to win until they found a parking lot in Storm Bay,” Allen said.

“It was fast conditions on Friday night. They (Quest) had the pedal down and so did we.

We were always looking at Gweilo and my old boat, Envy Scooters (Barry Cuneo), too. They were always up to different things.

“We had our game plan. We didn’t alter it for them, but you always keep an eye on them. Once or twice we almost changed it, but decided against it.

“Ichi Ban is two years old now, so we know a lot more about it than we did in the beginning. There were a couple of things that we were still making up as we went along when we won in 2017.

“The boat is great. It’s a good all round boat and doesn’t really have a weakness. You never know what conditions you are going to get, but we are confident that we can push her hard and we do push her hard. It’s a great, fun boat to sail.”

Ichi Ban will next head to the Australian Yachting Championships, to be hosted by the Rolex Sydney Hobart finishing partner Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, starting in three days’ time.

“We’ll go there to try and defend the title we won last year. It will be predominantly the same crew as the Hobart minus a couple. Three days of sailing in some of the trickiest waters in Australia…”

Published in Sydney to Hobart

Gordon Maguire, 57 years old, who hails from Howth Yacht Club in County Dublin and now lives in Lake Macquarie, Australia has joined Doyle Sails.

Maguire, who has been a professional sailor for 32 years has competed in five Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race Round the World races. He has also competed and won countless offshore races, multiple national and world championships in a variety of classes. For the last six years, Gordon has been the Sailing Master for the Ichi Ban programme in Sydney, Australia. Ichi Ban was just nominated the RORC yacht of the year 2018, and was the 2018 Sydney - Hobart winner.

Gordon commented on his new role: “I truly believe that Doyle Sails offers a genuine alternative for sailors. I have used their sails on Proteus, a Maxi 72 in the Caribbean and the US, and they were very impressive. I have seen Doyle Sails evolve and develop new products over the last few years and I want to be a part of this team. I’m excited to put my name to a brand and products that I know are really good. With Nico (Chris Nicolson) joining up and setting up the massive new facility in Somersby, that was enough for me to realise that it was time to use my 30 years of professional sailing to broaden my horizons!”

Gordon joins Chris Nicholson at the Australian loft with Chris’ involvement having been announced back in August 2018. This loft has over 1000m2 of loft space and the business growth and efficiency is on the up – currently they are putting the finishing touches on the sails for Comanche and InfoTrack as well as working with the Flying 11’s, from one end of the scale to the other, but all important business for the Doyle Brand.

Chris Nicholson added his views to today’s news: “I have known Gordon for a long time and admired, not only his career, but also the respect he has within our sport. Gordon has the ability and common sense to get the best outcomes for customers and also keep the process enjoyable.

Published in Marine Trade
Tagged under

December’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2017 overall winner Gordon Maguire, originally of Howth and now sailing master of Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban in Australia, simply keeps on winning writes W M Nixon.

The Australia Yachting Championship on Port Philip Bay saw Maguire record eight wins in eight races when the series concluded on Sunday, a result which was particularly sweet for owner Matt Allen - the President of Australian Sailing started his own sailing career at Sandringham, host port for this important week of racing.

gordon maguire2Gordon Maguire, overall winner of the recent Sydney-Hobart Race, had continued on top form with eight wins in eight races in the Australian Championship.

Full details here

Published in News Update
Tagged under

Alas, it’s true. Our very own Gordon Maguire is now officially Australian writes W M Nixon. He probably has been for years. His World Sailing Number is AUSGM1, which couldn’t be more clearcut. And that’s why, when we asked the obliging Trish Jenkins recently at the RORC Press Office in Antigua for a list of Irish sailors in the up-coming RORC Caribbean 600 Race, she quickly came up with an astonishingly large total spread across many boats, but The Maguire aboard defending champion Proteus failed to show on the radar. Thus we failed miserably to highlight the forthcoming battle between the ex-Pat titans, himself on Proteus and Ian Moore on Bella Mente.

Yet they still reckon The Maguire is Irish out in Australia. Here’s an interview he did at the end of January which happens to be of particular interest in view of the IRC/ECHO discussions anticipated at the ICRA Conference in Limerick on Saturday, a minefield into which former Howth Yacht Club Commodore Brian Turvey has already waded in here on Afloat.ie. 

However, compared to some of the more erudite Gordon Maguire interviews, that’s all fairly simple stuff. Its when AUSGM1 gets into much more arcane areas that the ideas really light up. Our favourite interview, still as valid today as it was in 2010 is here 

Published in ICRA
Tagged under

There’s nothing that really compares with the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. While most of the more-populated parts of the world in the Northern Hemisphere are in their midwinter shutdown, somnolent and sluglike in a festival of consumer excess, away south of the Equator one of the most magnificent city harbours in the world is exuberantly celebrating outdoors in all its midsummer glory. And then it tops out the party with one of world sailing’s great spectacles. W M Nixon anticipates the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2015, which starts in full daylight in Australia an hour after this is posted at midnight on Christmas Day in Ireland.

With the Yuletide festivities scarcely put away, a group of extreme boats at the peak end of the hundred foot size limit - every last one of them owned and sailed by larger-than-life characters – comes roaring out of Sydney’s glorious harbour at the head of a magnificent fleet, a colossally varied collection of 108 craft in which every crew reckons they’re in with a chance. For although line honours for the biggies are what captures the headlines, for the dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts the only real trophy in the thrash to Hobart is the Tattersall’s Cup for the overall winner on IRC Handicap.

A severe weather forecast of three days ago has now been watered down, but there’ll still be plenty of breeze at some stages to be going along with. The start is expected to be in a moderate to fresh northeasterly, stronger outside once they begin making southing down the Tasman Sea, with most boats chasing that elusive race-winning south-going current which may be anything up to ten miles offshore.

Then everything changes in the weather situation with an active front rolling up from the south and southwest, with strong headwinds – maybe gusting to 45 knots in the front itself – providing atrocious wind-over-tide conditions with the under-lying south-going current. There’ll be a lot of Christmas dinners spread out over the ocean……After that, the winds are forecast to fall away as the bulk of the fleet get to the Bass Strait, but overall the pundits are reckoning boats in the 60ft to 75ft size range are looking to be the favoured cohort, while George David’s Rambler 88 – with the legendary Brad Butterworth in the afterguard – is now looking good to give the hundred footers more than a few tense moments.

By the time you’re likely to be reading this on Saturday morning, the drama will already be unfolding on the other side of the world, and all sorts of newsfeeds will be available for the best armchair offshore racing of the year. Yet as a Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race addict, I’ll readily concede that the last thing addiction provides is a clear picture, so you can expect this anticipation to be something of a rose-tinted view.

sydney hobart course 2015
The Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race – a classic course which is staging its 71st edition as 2015 draws to a close

But that said, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race of 2014 will take some beating. It provided the glorious battle for line honours between the new Comanche and the continually-evolving Wild Oats XI, veteran owner and local favourite Bob Oatley’s originally 98ft Reichel Pugh Wild Oats XI of 2005 vintage, but modified almost every year since, such that by December 2014 she was a hundred footer. Against her, the big new fat girl, Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s JK-designed total hundred footer Comanche, so big and beamy you could fit two Wild Oats into her and still have room to spare.

Yet although all the heavy metal seemed to be on Comanche’s side, including having the formidable Kenny Read as skipper, in the end the skinny girl wriggled her way through some awkward conditions which Comanche loathed, and wriggled to such good effect that Wild Oats took line honours.

Comanche

It’s reckoned you’d still have room to spare after fitting two of Wild Oats XI (left) into the very different hull of Comanche (right)

And then, to put the icing well and truly on the Hobart cake, as the various potential handicap winners were knocked out by the remorseless ticking of the clock, an overall winner emerged who was the very epitome of the true Australian ocean racing spirit. The veteran Farr 43 Wild Rose, owned successfully for many years by Roger Hickman, was on top of her immaculate form, and won the Tattersall’s Cup.

Farr 43 Wild Rose

The true spirit of Australian offshore racing – Roger Hickman’s 28 year old Farr 43 Wild Rose (ex-Wild Oats) is defending champion in this year’s Rolex Sydney-Hobart race

And what was Wild Rose’s back-story? You just couldn’t make it up. She was one of the first boats to be called Wild Oats, brought to the Australian racing scene by a legendary entrepreneur called Bob Oatley who’d been so successful in business in Papua New Guinea that at one stage he was controlling 95% of the entire country’s GDP. And then, when local interests bought him out, he shifted operations back home to Australia, and created himself a new conglomerate business empire on an even large stage.

He found that the challenge of campaigning a serious offshore racer at the top end of the exuberant Australian offshore racing scene went perfectly with business. If the boat did well, enterprises like Robert Oatley Wines did well too. But regardless of that, it was fun. So although he’s looking into his 90s. Old Bob is as keen as ever on the whole crazy game, and with Mark Richards he has the perfect skipper/boat manager to maximize returns from the sheer entertainment provided by keeping Wild Oats XI up to the mark to fulfill her role as the people’s favourite.

The improvement project for 2015 was basically to re-position the mast. Now most folks, if they decide the mast is too far forward, they’d simply move it aft. But not the Wild Oats team. At its most fundamental, what they’ve done is keep the mast where it was, but they chopped off the bow - the chainsaw pix say it all - and then added a completely new longer slimmer bow. Try as you might, you can’t see the join…...

Mark Richards and Bob Oatley

If you’re going to take the bow off the boat with a chainsaw, better make sure you’ve the owner there to do it with you. Mark Richards and Bob Oatley start the drastic surgery on Wild Oat XI

Wild Oats XIYou can’t even see the join….,Wild Oats with her new longer bow (right) with the old bow (left) kept in storage “in case the new one didn’t work” . But would you call that new stem a “clipper bow”?

Then, to keep her down to a hundred feet, they shortened and re-shaped the stern, such that the result of it all is the skinny girl is now super-slim. But thanks to the latest materials and some ferociously clever engineering and technology, Wild Oats is able to carry a mighty canting keel which keeps this torpedo of a boat upright and powering successfully along, in which mission she is further assisted by all sorts of canards and foils which can be deployed from multiple orifices.

Central to the whole story today, however, is the fact that the Hobart Race 2015 is the first real test of the completely re-vamped Wild Oats XI, and she’s yet again up against Comanche as a trial horse. But after such radical changes, naturally there are those who’ll question them. For a start, it has been noted that with the completely new bow section, the even longer bowsprit on WOXI is receiving additional support from a sort of solid strut from the stem which creates what some of us might describe as a clipper bow.

Wild Oats XI

The re-configured Wild Oats XI is faster than ever, but what length is she?

And if you accept that this has indeed become a clipper bow of sorts, instead of a straight stem bow which happens to have a solid strut support for an unusually long bowsprit, then you’re accepting that Wild Oats’ hull has now become more than a hundred feet long, and therefore above the size limit for the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race. At the time of writing, the Race Committee seemed to have accepted that Wild Oats still has a straight stem. But we can think of a few sea-lawyers who might possibly demur.

In the end, it’s a matter of definitions. Just recently, a Classic Boat magazine profile of the magnificent Fife-designed-and-built 1926 Fastnet Race line honours winner Hallowe’en revealed she is just over 71ft LOA, and something like 47ft when unladen on the waterline. The waterline length was fine, as it allowed some immersion in seagoing trim to stay within the Fastnet limit of 50ft LWL. But what’s with this 71ft plus in the LOA department, when the Fastnet Rule – set after the inaugural race of 1925 – clearly set the upper LOA limit at 70ft? Well, it seems that Hallowe’en is 70ft LOA on deck. And LOD was seen by many as being one and the same thing as LOA back in 1926. So now you know.

Hallowe’en, 1926 Fastnet Race

Hallowe’en, 1926 Fastnet Race Line Honours Winner, at the Royal Irish YC. While she was 70ft LOD to comply with the Fastnet Race maximum size, her hull LOA is actually slightly north of 71ft. Photo: W M Nixon

Whatever, this morning the one thing we’re starting to know is just how well the new-style Wild Oats is going, as there’s plenty of wind forecast for some stages, and the only test so far against other boats was in smooth water conditions in the Solas Big Boat Challenge a fortnight ago. This was a 14 mile round-the-buoys sprint within Sydney Harbour in which George David’s Rambler 88 was still right there with Wild Oats at the weather mark, but thereafter the Oats lengthened away in impressive style, while the other hundred footers weren’t really in contention with either her or Rambler.

Solas Big Boat Challenge

Racing in the Solas Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour a fortnight ago. The new look Wild Oats XI is already showing ahead, but she had quite a job to shake off the smaller Rambler 88 (second right). There’s a lot of sailing history in this photo. Perpetual Loyal (second left) was formerly George David’s Rambler 100 which capsized at the Fastnet Rock in 2011 after snapping off her keel.

But of course Comanche very sensibly stayed away from the Solas Big Boat Chalenge. In-harbour contortions aren’t her thing at all. The big wide boat needs the wide open spaces of the clear ocean and the challenge of the 628 miles to Hobart. So it’s right now that the two monsters in their current form are at each other’s throats for the very first time, like a giant rattlesnake against a huge python. Jurassic Park goes sailing…….

After the hors d’euvre of the line honours battle, we then re-focus on the body of the fleet for the main course, and on the race tracker it’s fascinating to watch as fortunes wax and wane for different groups. But within each group, regardless of how they’re doing within the fleet at large, as the race progresses the group leaders become more clearly defined, but quite why and where it happens is sometimes only discernible in the post-race analysis.

For instance, last year the Dun Laoghaire crew of Barry Hurley and the Rumball brothers were right there on their First 40 with the comparably-rated Wild Rose as they approached the Bass Strait. But then with a couple of twists and turns of fortune Wild Rose got herself into a better rhythm, and there she was – gone – while the Irish crew slipped in the rankings.

The top Irish skipper within class in 2014 was Sean McCarter in the Clipper Division with Derry/Londonderry/Doire - he won the Clippers as they took it in as part of their multi-stage race round the world. The Clippers are there again this year in what is the most international fleet yet seen in the Sydney-Hobart, with a first-time strong mainland Chinese representation, particularly through Ark 323, their TP 52 whose home club is the Noah Sailing Club. If they do well, we can hope to find out how a challenger from the People’s Republic seems to draw so heavily on the Old Testament for the names of boat and club alike.

Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban

Will she finally find her true form? The Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban (Matt Allen), raced by Gordon Maguire, is in the size cohort favoured by the pundits to suit the forecast wind and weather.

Our own Gordon Maguire, winner overall in 1991 and 2012, is going again, and again it’s on Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban, which has a new rudder and other mods, and has been showing an improvement in form. And we now know that Maguire is going with the Carkeek 60 which is called Ichi Ban. Because you see, Matt Allen happens to have a TP 52 which is also called Ichi Ban, and though the modified Carkeek 60 seemed to have found better form to win the Cabbage Tree Island race at the end of November, even then Allen wouldn’t say which Ichi Ban would do the Hobart Race. But with the wind pattern forecast, it will be the Carkeek, indeed she is now rated one of the favourites if the weather does as the gurus say it will.

Another boat of special Irish interest is the completely new Wicklow-designed Mills 45 Concubine, built in Dubai for South Australian sailor Jason Ward of Adelaide, and only afloat since November 11th. So she has scarcely been sailing seriously for much more than a wet week. But the word is the boat’s potential is enormous. And simply seeing how she performs in this ultimate test tank of modern middle distance offshore racing is going to be top of the interest levels for the next few days.

Mark Mills-designed 45ft Concubine

Her lines were drawn in the midst of the Wicklow countryside – the new Mark Mills-designed 45ft Concubine will have her first real test in the Hobart Race

For although the Hobart Race is of rather more recent date than the other classics such as the Bermuda Race and the Fastnet, they are biennial whereas the Sydney-Hobart has been an annual event ever since being founded in 1945, and thus has built up its mystique more quickly. As a result, some devotees log up an astonishing number of races to Hobart, and this year Tony Cable will be doing his 50th . This time round – as it has been for the past four Hobarts – he’s aboard Damien Parkes’ JV52 Duende, but he has been on many different boats, and in all he has raced to Hobart with 308 different crewmates over the years, so they’re going to need a very large premises for his reunion.

sy10a
Tony Cable is doing his 50th Sydney-Hobart Race – these are the name plates of the 15 boats he has sailed on

The Sydney-Hobart Race started at the end of World War 2 when Sydney cruising men asked the great offshore racing legend Captain John Illingworth RN – who happened to be running the navy yard at Wooloomoolo at the time – if he’d be interested in a cruise-in-company down to Hobart over Christmas. He said he’d be interested in the offshore passage to Hobart, but only if they made it a race.

Rani (John Illingworth)

Rani (John Illingworth) was winner of the first Sydney-Hobart race in 1945

By the time it got going, he’d acquired himself a little locally designed and built sloop called Rani. Despite having one of the smallest boats in the fleet, Illingworth battled on through a proper Southerly Buster and then another gale, before he finally got to Hobart expected to be dog last in this new race, as Rani’s radio had packed it in shortly after the start. Thus they’d no word of anyone else at all, while they themselves had been posted missing.

But he found he was twenty hours ahead of the next boat on the water. He’d won overall by hours or even days, and it was a long time before all the fleet had got in. Every other entry had sought shelter of some sort. And one boat had even gone into port so that her crew could go to the cinema to pass the time before racing on south once the weather had improved. Be assured that things are different these days in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race

John Illingworth

Captain John Illingworth looking more than somewhat weatherbeaten at the finish of the first Hobart race in 1945, which he won. He went on to win the Fastnet Race overall twice (in 1947 and 1949) with Myth of Malham.

Published in W M Nixon

#offshore – The Reichel-Pugh 63 Loki, which started life in 2009 under Stephen Ainsworth's ownership racing to many wins out of Sydney in the top Australian offshore classics, has continued her successful career under her new name of Lucky and the ownership of American Bryon Ehrhart writes W M Nixon.

In the Ainsworth ownership, Loki was under the command of Gordon Maguire, originally of Howth. For three years , she was clear ahead as top Australian boat, winning the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race of 2011, and coming second overall and winning her class in the 2012 race, in addition to achieving other successes including many combined line honours/overall wins in the busy Australian offshore programme along the east coast and north towards the resort ports of the Great Barrier Reef.

Stephen Ainsworth had always said he would give racing at this level his undivided attention for five years, and then he'd exit the scene. He did that very thing, so for a couple of years now Gordon Maguire has been skipper for Matt Allen on the Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban. As for Loki, naturally potential Australian owners were a bit wary of taking on such a comprehensive winner, as they'd have no excuse for not continuing her success. So the feeling was that she'd be sold away, and now she is in the hands of Bryon Ehrhart who has re-named her Lucky, which is pretty much what her name meant in Norwegian anyway.

Though Chicago-based, Erhart is in the thick of things in big boat racing on America's east coast focused on the New York YC's base in Newport Rhode Island at Harbour Court. The NYYC is very much involved in this month's Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentennial Celebrations staged from Cowes, and is one of the organisers in the current Transatlantic Race towards the Squadron celebrations, a marathon - started from Newport - which has been experiencing some distinctly rough but fast conditions. The fleet has been given three separate starts to take account of potential speed differences, the theory being that it should compress the finishing times to make the organizing of post-race events more manageable and meaningful, while also opening the field for more boats to hope to claim the line honours title.

From the time her division started, Lucky has been very much in the frame, and when she took that coveted line honours slot on Friday evening at the Lizard Point finish line after a "brutal" 8 days 22 hours 5 minutes and three seconds completion of the 2,800 mile course, her owner-skipper and crew were lavish in their praise for the routing techniques and weather-reading skills of their navigator, Ian "Soapy" Moore, who hails from Carrickfergus, but is Cowes-based these days as a navigator/tactician of international repute.

Moore's calls saved Lucky many miles at significant stages, and then at the end as they ran into the softer winds towards southwest England, he kept them on track to maintain a 37-mile lead over their closest challenge, a hundred footer. In Australian waters with that bit of Irish luck thrown in, Loki was lucky. In the North Atlantic, with some more Irish talent in the mix, Lucky was loki.

Currently she also holds the IRC Corrected Time lead in the Transatlantic, and looks likely to retain it against serious biggies such as the Kenny Read-skipper hundred footer Comanche, and George David's new Rambler 88, which started later and haven't "enjoyed" so much in the way of strong winds.

So Bryon Ehrhart's Lucky-ex-Loki will be seen as a sensible all-round good bet for the 90th Anniversary Fastnet Race on August 16th. She's certainly there in the official entry list of 387 boats, right there next to Liam Coyne's First 36.7 Lula Belle, which last year cut a real dash by winning the two-handed division in the RORC Round Britain & Ireland Race, with Liam sailing with Brian Flahive to a success which included the bonus of an outright win of two fully-crewed divisions. Nevertheless, with all due respect to Lula Bell's crew, being next to her on the entry list is just about as close as they'll get to the all-conquering Lucky in the Fastnet Race 2015.

Published in Offshore
Page 1 of 2

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual offshore yacht racing event with an increasingly international exposure attracting super maxi yachts and entries from around tne world. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - FAQs

The number of Sydney Hobart Yacht Races held by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1945 is 75

6,257 completed the Sydney Hobart Yacht race, 1036 retired or were disqualified)

About 60,061 sailors have competed in the Sydney Hobart Race between 1945 and 2019

Largest fleets: 371 starters in the 50th race in 1994 (309 finished); 154 starters in 1987 (146 finished); 179 starters in 1985 (145 finished); 151 starters in 1984 (46 finished); 173 started in 1983 (128 finished); 159 started in 1981 (143 finished); 147 started in 1979 (142 finished); 157 started in 2019 (154 finished)

116 in 2004 (59 finished); 117 in 2014 (103 finished); 157 in 2019 (154 finished)

Nine starters in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945

In 2015 and 2017 there were 27, including the 12 Clipper yachts (11 in 2017). In the record entry of 371 yachts in the 50th in 1994, there were 24 internationals

Rani, Captain John Illingworth RN (UK). Design: Barber 35’ cutter. Line and handicap winner

157 starters, 154 finishers (3 retirements)

IRC Overall: Ichi Ban, a TP52 owned by Matt Allen, NSW. Last year’s line honours winner: Comanche, Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP (FRA) owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, in 1 day 18 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds. Just 1hour 58min 32secs separated the five super maxis at the finish 

1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017 by LDV Comanche after Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour in port/starboard incident for a finish time of 1d 9h 48m 50s

The oldest ever sailor was Syd Fischer (88 years, 2015).

As a baby, Raud O'Brien did his first of some six Sydney Hobarts on his parent's Wraith of Odin (sic). As a veteran at three, Raud broke his arm when he fell off the companionway steps whilst feeding biscuits to the crew on watch Sophie Tasker sailed the 1978 race as a four-year-old on her father’s yacht Siska, which was not an official starter due to not meeting requirements of the CYCA. Sophie raced to Hobart in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

Quite a number of teenage boys and girls have sailed with their fathers and mothers, including Tasmanian Ken Gourlay’s 14-year-old son who sailed on Kismet in 1957. A 12-year-old boy, Travis Foley, sailed in the fatal 1998 race aboard Aspect Computing, which won PHS overall.

In 1978, the Brooker family sailed aboard their yacht Touchwood – parents Doug and Val and their children, Peter (13), Jacqueline (10), Kathryne (8) and Donald (6). Since 1999, the CYCA has set an age limit of 18 for competitors

Jane (‘Jenny’) Tate, from Hobart, sailed with her husband Horrie aboard Active in the 1946 Race, as did Dagmar O’Brien with her husband, Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Connella. Unfortunately, Connella was forced to retire in Bass Strait, but Active made it to the finish. The Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the first female skipper to finish the race

In 2019, Bill Barry-Cotter brought Katwinchar, built in 1904, back to the start line. She had competed with a previous owner in 1951. It is believed she is the oldest yacht to compete. According to CYCA life member and historian Alan Campbell, more than 31 yachts built before 1938 have competed in the race, including line honours winners Morna/Kurrewa IV (the same boat, renamed) and Astor, which were built in the 1920s.

Bruce Farr/Farr Yacht Design (NZL/USA) – can claim 20 overall wins from 1976 (with Piccolo) up to and including 2015 (with Balance)

Screw Loose (1979) – LOA 9.2m (30ft); Zeus II (1981) LOA 9.2m

TKlinger, NSW (1978) – LOA 8.23m (27ft)

Wild Oats XI (2012) – LOA 30.48m (100ft). Wild Oats XI had previously held the record in 2005 when she was 30m (98ft)

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