CYCA Commodore Matt Allen and Vice Commodore Garry Linacre joined Rolex Australia General Manager Richard de Leyser to announce the award winners at the prestigious function, which is also the pre-race Rolex Sydney Hobart skipper’s cocktail party.
Phil Eadie, a longstanding crew member of Ragamuffin, has been named as the CYCA Navigator of the Year. Phil has sailed with Ragamuffin for several years and has played an integral role in helping owner Syd Fischer achieve his record ninth Blue Water Championship in 2007/08 and a second overall in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007.
The prestigious Ocean Racer of the Year Award has been awarded to Syd Fischer. Fischer is a multiple winner of this award and was previously named the 2006/07 Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year. In the 2007/08 sailing calendar, Fischer sailed his new Transpac 52 Ragamuffin to great success with strong results in the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2007, finishing second overall to Rosebud. He won the double of top IRC boat and line honours in the inaugural Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race; and was crowned Blue Water Champion after completing in all blue water races and finishing with an enviable 4-2-2-1-1-1 in his 46th season of ocean racing.
Fischer is one of two octogenarians sailing in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, which will be his 40th trip south.
Following a 20 year break from ocean racing, Novocastrian Kym Butler brought One for the Road, a Northshore 370 in December 2006 and commenced ocean racing in January 2007. A relatively newcomer to ocean racing, Butler and his crew have sailed competitively in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and many Newcastle Yacht Club races. Additionally they have competed in the Gosford Lord Howe Island race (in a different yacht), Pittwater Coffs Harbour race and the Sail Port Stephens regatta.
Butler, who tonight earnt the title of CYCA Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year for 2007-08, will undertake his first Rolex Sydney Hobart after reconnecting with the sport.
This year’s Ocean Racing Crew Person of the Year, Dan Morrow, is a dedicated member of the Limit crew. Travelling from Melbourne to wherever Limit begins her races, Morrow clocks up more kilometres in the air and on the road before he’s wet his feet.
Alan Brierty, owner of Limit said in Morrow’s nomination that “he is an extremely valuable crew member. Without his assistance in all facets of the Limit sailing program I would find it hard to enjoy the sport as much as I do.
“Due to Dan’s extensive experience, he is an integral part of the crew and plays a major role in training and nurturing the mostly amateur Limit crew.”
The CYCA tonight also recognised another outstanding crew person by awarding a highly commended award to Tony Purkiss from Newcastle Yacht Club.
Purkiss has overcome tragic circumstances to continue to actively participate in his chosen sport - despite being legally blind. Purkiss lost his eyesight as a result of the Bali bombings. After months of recovery and adapting to life without vision, Purkiss has sailed in numerous offshore races including the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in different crew positions including main sheet trim, mast, foredeck and cockpit.
John Walker has been named the CYCA Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year. This will be the fourth time Walker has been awarded this honour. He finished 5th in division in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and has completed the last 24 Hobart races in the same yacht, Impeccable. Walker will create yachting history when he and his boat set sail in their 25th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with Walker at the remarkable age of 86, the oldest skipper ever to compete in the Hobart Race.
Since its inception in 1985 the Ocean Racer of the Year Award has gone to many of Australia’s most notable ocean racing skippers starting with Tasmanian Don Calvert and including Victorians Gino Knezic and Lou Abrahams, South Australian Kevan Pearce and Sydney yachtsmen Syd Fischer (three times), Roger Hickman, Geoff Ross, Matt Allen (twice), and last year, Bob Thomas and Ed Psaltis, for the second time.
The Crew Person of the Year list of winners includes some of the best Australian sailors who have played significant roles in the success of the boats on which they sailed.
Among the winners have been David Blanchfield (NSW), Brad Stephens (NSW, Phil Thompson (NSW), Julian Freeman (Tas), Tom Braidwood (NSW), Ian ‘Barney’ Walker (Vic), Adrienne Cahalan (NSW), Lori Wilson (NSW), Brett Filby (NSW) and Tony Ellis (NSW).
The Ocean Veteran of the Year winners have included Alby Burgin (NSW), twice, the late Merv Finn (WA), the late John Bennetto (Tas), Dick Fidock (SA), John Walker (NSW), twice, Lou Abrahams (Vic), Don Mickleborough (NSW), Richard Hammond (NSW) and Alex Whitworth (NSW), twice.