Celebrating the life of Guy Stening

Guy Stening
Rob Cruse
Sailing mates, friends and family of Guy Stening will gather at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron next Wednesday afternoon, May 23, for a memorial service and celebration of the life the Australian and World championship yachtsman who passed away recently after a short illness.

Guy Stening died in Sydney, aged 45, ending a relatively short, but brilliant career in high performance one-design yacht racing.

In the space of four enthusiastic seasons in the Mumm 30 (now M30) class, he twice won the Australian championship and went on to take out the world championship against some of the world’s leading skippers.

His notable world championship win was in 2008 was off Newport, Rhode Island, the same sea-port on the US east coast where Australia II had historically claimed the America’s Cup just over 25 years previously.

The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron named him its Yachtsman of the Year after that world championship victory.

Apart from being an excellent helmsman, the keynote to Guy’s success lay in excellent organisation, attention to detail and in putting together a top Australian crew for his overseas campaigns.

Born in New Zealand, Guy began sailing at an early age and after moving to Sydney sailed 505 dinghies with his brother Yves. His first foray into bigger boats was with the sports boat, Short Circuit, which he raced with the success with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Sydney Amateur Sailing Club.

Moving into then Mumm 30 class with a boat called Optimumm, Stening joined the Squadron and was elected a member of the sailing committee. He worked hard towards a possible world championship for the M30 class being held in Sydney.

This did not eventuate and he took his boat and crew (and his young family) off to Porto Cervo, Sardinia, where he finished a very creditable fourth overall in the 2007 worlds.

The following year, Guy began a concerted campaign to win the worlds, scheduled for Newport, Rhode Island, competing in lead-up regattas at Annapolis and Newport with a new M30, this time named Optimum.

The 2008 world championship, on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Sound, was a tough event, a no-drop series of eleven races. Guy and his crew sailed a superbly consistent series which included three wins, three seconds and two thirds.

Optimum’s worst placing was a ninth and the Australia’s in the end won comfortably from a fleet of some of the best sailing in the USA and from Europe. Guy summed it up after the final race in an excited phone call to me, back in Sydney: 'We came here to win… this is huge!'

In recent seasons Guy has been a strong supporter of the RSYS youth sailing programme with his daughter Issabella (Issy) becoming, like her father, and enthusiast sailor. She sails a pink Laser 4.7 dinghy called Petite Optimum, with Guy even organising the ‘Laser’ name to be written in pink and for the mainsheet to be pink.

Guy is survived by his wife of 17 years, Hilary, and their two daughters Issabella (13) and Sibel (10) and an extended family, not to mention his many sailing mates.

Appropriately, the memorial service for Guy Stening will be held at what Hilary described as 'his other home', the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.