CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Award winners

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Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Ocean Racer of the Year Awards were presented this evening, Wednesday 14th December, at a gala cocktail party.

For only the third time in the history of the awards, the CYCA presented the Ocean Racer of the Year Award to two yachtsmen – Stephen Ainsworth and Geoff Boettcher.

The CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Awards recognises yachting excellence for the twelve month period of July 2010-July 2011. Ainsworth and Boettcher have been on or near the podium with their Reichel/Pugh designed yachts Loki and Secret Men’s Business 3.5 over the past year.

For Ainsworth, the 2010/2011 season was one to remember. Starting with an overall win in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, this yachtsman was also crowned the 2010 Audi IRC Australian Champion.

He also won the CYCA’s prestigious 2010-2011 Bluewater Pointscore in April this year after taking line honours and an IRC divisional win in the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race.

On his way to claiming the Blue Water Pointscore, this yachtsman and his well-prepared yacht broke several race records, including the Flinders Islet Race record. He also had one of the most enviable scorecards with four wins, a fifth and a seventh, giving him a lead of four points from his nearest rival. Loki also finished eighth across the line and eighth in their division in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.

After 22 years of racing to Hobart, Geoff Boettcher finally won one of the most sought after trophies in yachting – the Tattersall’s Cup – when he claimed the overall win in the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart. He was also only the fifth South Australian to claim a Hobart win.

Boettcher also accumulated a great list of wins in the 2010/2011 season including: first IRC in the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia Premier’s Cup Series; first in the SA IRC Championship; first in PHS and IRC in the CYCSA Offshore Championship; first in IRC in the CYCSA’s Adelaide to Port Lincoln race; and second in IRC and PHS at Lexus Lincoln Week.

More recently, Boettcher’s performance has been recognised by Yachting South Australia who named him SA Sailor of the Year. Secret Men’s Business 3.5 was named the CYCSA’s yacht of the year.

Peter Inchbold was presented with the Sally Gordon Memorial Trophy for Ocean Crew Person of the Year by Anne Gordon, Sally’s sister. Inchbold is an integral part of the Wild Rose crew.

'Peter is a superb sailor who has assisted me with all my adventures in the last nine years,' Hickman said in his citation of Inchbold. 'I couldn’t do what I do without his support. He offers assistance with every facet of each event. He’s the one I put my trust in whilst asleep; his enthusiasm, ability and his competency makes him the most valuable crew member I have,' Hickman added.

A stellar season for Darryl Hodgkinson has seen him recognised as the Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year. Stepping up to ocean racing with his Beneteau 45 Victoire, Hodgkinson has walked away with a string of podium finishes including: first in IRC Division 3 in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, second in division in the Brisbane to Keppel race; first in IRC division 2 and third overall in the ORCi division of last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart; and second behind Loki in the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore.

Tony Ellis was named Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year. Ellis, known to his mates as ‘Ace’, is sailing his 45th race to Hobart this year and his 39th with friend and Ragamuffin owner, Syd Fischer.

Ellis is highly regarded as Fischer’s ‘right-hand man’, at times entrusted with skippering the boat in its owner’s absence. The two men are looking forward to competing in their 40th Rolex Sydney Hobart together next year.

Aboard Ragamuffin with Fischer for his Sydney Hobart line honours and overall wins, Ellis started sailing his long association aboard the original Ragamuffin in 1968 and has also been by his owner’s side for a record nine Blue Water Pointscore Championship titles, making him a worthy recipient.

Michael Bellingham, navigator on Loki, has been named the Ocean Racing Navigator of the Year. His navigational skills have assisted Loki gaining her podium finishes including the 2010 Audi IRC Australian Championship, the CYCA’s 2010/2011 Blue Water Pointscore and numerous fleet races. His dedication and loyalty, attention to detail is second to none. His ability has been a key component of Loki’s success.

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, New South Welshmen Roger Hickman, Geoff Ross, Matt Allen (twice), Bob Thomas and Ed Psaltis (twice), Syd Fischer (four times) and last year, Sydney yachtsmen Bob Steel and Mike Green.

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), the late Sally Gordon (NSW), Lori Wilson (NSW), Brett Filby (NSW), Tony Ellis (NSW) and last year Kingsley Piesse (VIC).

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), Richard Hammond (NSW), Alex Whitworth (NSW), twice and Syd Fischer (NSW).

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