CYCA names Ocean Racer Award winners

  • Racing
  • NEWS
  • By Jennifer Crooks
  • 20 Dec 2005 18:30:00

L-R Alex Whitworth, Tony Fowler, Matt Allen, Brett Filby were all awarded at the Ocean Racer of the Year cocktail party


The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia announced the winners of its prestigious annual Ocean Racer of the Year Awards at the Rolex Skippers Cocktail Party.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia announced the winners of its prestigious annual Ocean Racer of the Year Awards at this evening’s Rolex Skippers Cocktail Party at its Rushcutters Bay clubhouse on the shores of Sydney Harbour.

The Awards, traditionally made in the final week before the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (starting next Monday, 26 December), recognise outstanding performances in and contributions to ocean racing over the past 12 months.  This year’s awards have gone to yachtsmen from Sydney, Geelong and Lake Macquarie.

For the second year in succession, the major Ocean Racer of the Year Award has gone to Sydney yachtsman Matt Allen, while the Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year is Alex Whitworth, who returned to Sydney this morning to complete an epic voyage to Britain and back in his little yacht Berrimilla.

In selecting the winners of the four categories of the Ocean Racer of the Year, the CYCA judging panel assessed results in major offshore races around the Australian seaboard, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, the Maria Island Race in Tasmania, the Adelaide to Port Lincoln, Sydney Mooloolaba, Sydney Gold Coast, Brisbane to Gladstone and the big regattas in Hobart, Geelong, Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island.

They panel chose Matt Allen in recognition of his ongoing success with his Farr 52 Ichi Ban.  He sailed the boat into third place in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and went on to win the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore.

Matt, Vice Commodore of the CYCA, also sailed Ichi Ban into third place in the IRC Division of Sailing South Race Week in Hobart before returning to Sydney for the Mooloolaba Race to clinch the Blue Water Pointscore.  He has since sold Ichi Ban.

In addition to his ocean racing, Matt played a key role in organising the 2005 Rolex Farr 40 One Design World Championship hosted by the CYCA last March. He also competed in his Farr 40, also named Ichi Ban.

Other finalists for the Ocean Racer Award, which traditionally goes to yacht owners and/or skippers, were Michael Spies, owner/skipper of the Beneteau 44.7, then called First National Real Estate, Steven David, owner/skipper of the Reichel/Pugh 60 Wild Joe and Anthony Paterson, owner/skipper of the Mumm 30 Tow Truck.

Alex Whitworth sailed into Sydney Harbour at the helm of his Brolga 33 Berrimilla this morning for the first time since he was part of the 116 boat fleet in last year’s 60th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.  Shortly after finishing the race to Hobart last year he and crewman Peter Crozier set sail for the UK, sailing around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands then across the placing 11th overall and second in their division. 

They then sailed off into the Atlantic again, heading back to Australia, this time rounding the Cape of Good Hope and reaching Hobart last week.

While they were at sea the Royal Ocean Racing Club, which conducts the Fastnet Race, awarded Berrimilla and its crew its annual Seamanship Award.

CYCA Commodore Geoff Lavis presented the award to them after they berthed at the club marina this morning and this evening he presented Alex with the CYCA’s Veteran Ocean Racer of the Year award.

Next Monday, Alex Whitworth and a full crew go to sea again in the 2005 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to become the only sailors known to have sailed in two Sydney Hobarts and a Fastnet Race within 12 months.

Lake Macquarie yachtsman Brett Filby is the Ocean Racing Crewperson of the Year. Brett is navigator and a key crewmember of Anthony Paterson’s Mumm 30 Tow Truck, which earlier this year won the Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race for the second time.  Tow Truck will be one of the smallest boats in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

“Brett and I have been sailing together on various boats over the past 15 years, including contesting the 2200 nautical mile Pacific Cup Race from San Francisco to Hawaii,” says skipper Paterson. “He is a very solid sailor in ocean racing – I would depend my life on Brett.”

Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year is Geelong yachtsman Tony Fowler who is campaigning for the first season his own yacht Ocean Skins, an Inglis 14m sloop.  So far he has sailed Ocean Skins in the 2005 Sydney Gold Coast, Gold Coast Mackay and Melbourne to Stanley Races and is now lining up for his first Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race as skipper of his own boat.

Prior to this evening’s presentation of the Ocean Racer of the Year Awards, Commodore Geoff Lavis called for one minute’s silence in memory of famous Tasmanian yachtsman John Bennetto who died last Friday.  John competed in 44 Rolex Sydney Hobart Races and is a past winner of the Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year Award. - Peter Campbell



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