Record number of races

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia clarify the numbers for the Rolex Sydney Hobart

Thursday November 15th 2007, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: Australasia
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the organising club of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, today confirmed that due to a discrepancy which crept into the figures some decades ago, there are in fact two yachtsmen lining up this year to equal the late John Bennetto’s record of 44 races.

Veteran Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams, a two-time former overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, placed third overall in the 2006 bluewater classic with his Sydney 38, Challenge. At the time he was acknowledged for completing his 44th race.

Following a re-count of his past races, 80 year-old Abrahams is happy to set the record straight by reducing his number of races by one. This means he’ll share the spotlight with Tony Cable as the pair go up together to equal the late John ‘The Fish’ Bennetto’s monumental record.

Both men are delighted that a re-count has set the facts straight and that they will be sharing the honour of reaching their 44th Rolex Sydney Hobart when the fleet lines up on Sydney Harbour at 1pm on Boxing Day, 26 December.

Lou Abrahams’ sailing career began on Port Philip Bay when he was 16, sailing in dinghies. His first Sydney Hobart was in 1963 on Winston Churchill, the veteran campaigner that sailed south for the last time in the stormswept 1998 race.

After Winston Churchill, Abrahams campaigned his own yacht Odin for five years before acquiring Vittoria, a Sparkman & Stephens 40 footer. He had his first Sydney Hobart win in 1983 with Challenge II, a 45ft S&S design and from 1984 to 87, he raced the carbon fibre Frers designed Challenge III.

Abrahams scored his second win, in 1989, with his Dubois One Tonner Ultimate Challenge before turning to one design racing at 73 years of age. He first
skippered the Sydney 38 Another Challenge, which is contesting the 63rd Rolex
Sydney Hobart under young skipper Chris Lewin, and now Abrahams is
successfully campaigning a Sydney 38 called Challenge.

Tony Cable has missed only three Rolex Sydney Hobarts since his first in 1961
while Abrahams first sailed south in 1963, skipped the 1964 race and hasn’t
missed a race since.

Cable chalked up 40 Rolex Sydney Hobarts in 2003 and for the 63rd Rolex
Sydney Hobart he will once again be running around the foredeck of the
Davidson 42 Phillip’s Foote Witchdoctor , which also happens to hold the current
record for the most races to Hobart for a yacht, 26.

Cable's experience in the Rolex Sydney Hobart ranges from Tarni, in 1961,
which still had cotton sails, to Merit in 2002, at the time a state-of-the-art Volvo
60. Like Abrahams, Cable has done all the rough Hobarts since the early 1960s.

“I've seen the well known seven-year cycle, beginning with 1963, then 1970,
1977, 1984, 1993 and 1998. 1963 was probably the hardest, in retrospect … 7
days 17 hours … but then I was inexperienced and thought they were probably
all like that," said Cable as he was approaching his 40th race.

Tony Cable was co-founder, with John Dawson, of the Quiet Little Drink
(Q.L.D.) in Hobart, a party that grew from the first event in 1969 and still raises
money each year to support those CYCA Youth Sailing Academy sailors who
are just starting their ocean racing careers.

Fleet update: The application for entry for Hugh Ellis' Silver Lady from Victoria
was withdrawn today, leaving a fleet of 89.

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