Stephen Ainsworth named CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year

  • Racing
  • GALLERY
  • By Mark Woolf
  • 12 Dec 2013 22:00:00
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Sydney entrepreneur Stephen Ainsworth has been named the Ocean Racer of the Year by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, at a gala cocktail party hosted at the Club this evening following a year of exceptional success.

The CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Awards recognises yachting excellence for the 12 month period from July 2012 to July 2013.

Prior to announcing he would take a break from offshore racing, Ainsworth won the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS) from Celestial (Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46) by 10 points having won the 2012 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, breaking Brindabella’s 13 year-old record to claim a new record for a conventionally ballasted yacht with his Reichel/Pugh 63, Loki

Ainsworth went on to win the Flinders Islet and Cabbage Tree Island races and finished second overall to Wild Oats XI in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart after winning the race overall in 2011.

Jenifer Wells was presented with the Sally Gordon Memorial Trophy for Ocean Crew Person of the Year by Anne Gordon, Sally’s sister.  Wells is an integral part of the Wild Rose crew acting as navigator when required and coordinating all logistics for the boat including entry paperwork, crew training and return passages. 

“Jenifer has been part of the Wild Rose crew for many years now and over the past 12 months has been integral in Wild Rose’s sailing season,” owner, Roger Hickman said. “She has competed in all the CYCA Blue Water Pointscore Series races, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Australian and NSW IRC Champsionships, the CYCA Trophy Series, Gosford Lord Howe Island Race and many other CYCA events.”

“Jenifer has given both her time and organisational ability to assist, and in most cases ensure, that Wild Rose gets to the start line.  She is a crew member who does it all,” he added. 

Sydney businessman Chris Bran was named the Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year. Since his bought his Beneteau First 40, Brannew in February 2012 “to race in the Hobart”, Bran has notched up some impressive results.

The Sydney yachtsman finished 18th overall in the 2012 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in which he won Division 3. He replicated his 18th overall result in the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart, with a second in Division 3, after using the CYCA’s Winter Series for crew training and to explore the inner workings of the boat.

Bran went on to secure his first major offshore victory (although it occurred outside of the award criteria) winning the 2013 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race overall, and won the CYCA’s Ocean Pointscore Botany Bay race in October as he prepares for his second Rolex Sydney Hobart.

For a third time, Syd Fischer OBE has been named the Ocean Veteran of the Year. Fischer needs no introduction and has been named the CYCA Blue Water champion an unprecedented nine times, with multiple podium places through the years. As such, the 86 year-old has been named Ocean Racer of the Year four times and completed his 50th offshore season in 2012/2013.

Fischer completed in his 44th Hobart in 2012, and his 40th together with great mate Tony Ellis. In the 2012/2013 season, his highlights included being second to Loki after the first three races of the BWPS with his TP52 Ragamuffin. This was before he stepped up to the 100 foot Ragamuffin LOYAL which he sailed to second on line behind Wild Oats XI in the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Next stop was the 2,225 nautical mile 2013 Transpac Race from California to Hawaii in July, in which he claimed fastest time for a monohull (with Ragamuffin 100). In September he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Australian Yachting Awards which took in his five self-funded America’s Cup challengers and multiple representation at Admiral’s and Clipper/Kenwood Cups, captaining those teams and winning on many occasions.

Michael Bellingham, navigator on Loki, the CYCA Blue Water champion for 2012/2013, has been named the Ocean Racing Navigator of the Year. This is the second time Bellingham has received the award, playing a major role in Stephen Ainsworth’s successes.

Since its inception in 1985, the Ocean Racer of the Year Award first went to Tasmanian Don Calvert, and has since gone to others including Victorians Gino Knezic and Lou Abrahams, NSW’s Matt Allen (twice), Bob Thomas and Ed Psaltis (twice), Syd Fischer (four times), Bob Steel and Mike Green, Stephen Ainsworth, South Australian Geoff Boettcher, and last year Sydney plastic surgeon Darryl Hodgkinson.

The Crew Person of the Year goes to the best of Australian sailors, nominated by their owners for playing a significant role in the success of the boats on which they sailed.

Among the winners have been Tom Braidwood, Phil Thompson, Adrienne Cahalan and the late Sally Gordon from NSW; Tasmanian Julian Freeman; Victorians Ian ‘Barney’ Walker and Kingsley Piesse; and last year, Gail Harland (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) three times, Lou Abrahams (Vic), Don Mickleborough (NSW), the late Richard Hammond (NSW), Alex Whitworth (NSW), twice, Bruce Gould (NSW) and Tony Ellis (NSW). 

By Jennifer Crooks, CYCA Media

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