Australian offshore sailors are a notoriously casual lot (“She’ll be right, mate!” is our national slogan), but we’ve always reserved special respect for the Sydney to Hobart Race. It’s the one sailing event Down Under that attracts significant media coverage, and is therefore familiar to the general public.
Happily, that respect extends to the veteran yachts and sailors who, for more than 70 years, have competed in the 638-mile race South and helped build it into a genuine blue-water classic. Every year, to celebrate that heritage, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (founders and organizing authority of the S-H) stage a “Great Veterans Race” for pre-1975 yachts that have competed in the Hobart.
Last weekend an impressive fleet of 24 veteran ocean racers competed in two divisions. They made an impressive sight on Sydney Harbour as they crossed tacks on a sparkling autumn afternoon. The fleet included the beautifully restored ketch Archina, a competitor in the first Sydney-Hobart back in 1945, and many yachts that had won the race on handicap.
Among those famous boats were such nostalgia-inducing names as Caprice of Huon, Anitra V, Love & War, Lahara, Solveig, Margaret Rintoul and Fare Thee Well. Many crews included some of the most legendary figures of the sport. Admiral’s Cup winner Gordon Ingate skippered Jasnar and America’s Cup helmsman Sir James Hardy sailed as tactician on Mister Christian.
Encouraged by the success of this year’s event the Cruising Yacht Club is now planning a two-day regatta for Sydney-Hobart veterans in early December to begin celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the race.
– Anarchist David