Just a stone’s throw from Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House and Woolloomooloo Bay is one of Sydney’s best known landmarks, Fort Denison, which is set in the middle of the Sydney Harbour. For over 150 years Fort Denison has had a varied past and has been used as a fishing spot, defence structure, navigational guide, tide gauge station, weather station, time marker and now a restaurant, events space and historic museum. Yesterday, down under the Cruising Yacht Club Australia hosted the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour, a 14 nautical mile course taking the fleet around the harbour two-and-a-half times, passing many of Sydney’s famous landmarks including Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Sydney Opera House, providing spectacular backdrops.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is run each year as one of the CYCA’s major fundraising events for its Safety of Life at Sea Trusts, which was established following the stormy 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Several winners of an eBay auction joined race crews aboard competing boats, meeting many of the Aussie sport’s heroes and getting a real taste of sailing big boats.
With the south westerly winds kicked in around 20 knots and gusts up to 23 knots, there was plenty of action on the water. Rob Hanna’s newly purchased TP52, Shogun V, had to offload crew member Benjamin Morrison-Jack at the Junction half way through the race. After getting caught up in the mainsheet and going for a tumble, hitting his head and becoming unconscious, “MJ”, was rushed to Manly hospital but was later released and we’re happy to report he is doing ok.
Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI took crossed the finish line off the Opera House three minutes ahead of Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal (with Neville Crichton steering), while Grant Wharington’s revamped now black 98 footer Wild Thing came in third. Newly appointed crewman on board Investec Loyal was Kurt Fearnley, Olympic wheelchair racer. Fearnley caught up with Nicole Scott back onshore discussing the race saying, “It was brilliant I loved it”. Scott captured Investec Loyal’s mainsail which displays the prominent Zebra, behind Fort Denison and in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge. To view more photos of the Big Boat Challenge click here. Video here.