Great Veteran’s Race 2013 - Kathleen Gillett to race again

Kathleen Gillett will see in action at the Great Veteran’s Race 2013
Great Veteran Race 2013 gets underway on 21st April. Kathleen Gillett, Jack Earl’s famous double ended ketch that competed in the first Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945, will again compete in this Sunday’s Great Veteran’s Race, conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

Kathleen Gillett competed in the 2012 Great Veteran’s Race but light weather conditions did not suit the 20 tonne gaff ketch and she was forced to retire. This year, the team at the Australian National Maritime Museum, led by Phillip McKendrick will be hoping for more favourable conditions for this grand old dame.

Kathleen Gillett finished third over the line and fourth overall, to Captain John Illingworth’s Rani in that first Sydney Hobart yacht race. Earl, an artist and founding member of the Cruising Yacht Club, named his boat after his beloved wife. The boat was home to the couple and their children during the war years and was also used for NSW coastal patrol.

Charles Larsen built Kathleen over six years based on drawings and designs from Norwegian naval architect and designer Colin Archer. Kathleen Gillett was launched in March 1939, and was a world cruising yacht worthy of Archer’s designs, that were noted for their safety in heavy seas.

In June 1947, Jack Earl and crew set sail to circumnavigate the world in Kathleen – the second Australian yacht to complete this feat. Accounts of the journey were published in Seacraft magazine with illustrations provided by Earl.

After being sold by Earl in the 1950s, Kathleen’s adventurous career included island trade in Torres Strait and crocodile hunting expeditions around Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. In 1967 Kathleen became a cruising yacht, and again sailed in the Sydney Hobart yacht race. In 1987 the ketch, much changed from its original specifications, was located at Guam and purchased by the Norwegian Government as a Bicentennial gift to the people of Australia. Kathleen Gillett is permanently berthed at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour.

Kathleen Gillett will also be joined on the start line by Archina, that started in the 1945 Sydney Hobart but was forced to retire after gale weather resulted in extremely rough conditions that knocked the crew around significantly. Archina was undamaged but retired and sailed back to Sydney. Archina has since competed in five other Hobart races including the 50th anniversary race in 1994.

At 90 years of age, John Walker will helm his 33 year old Peterson three-quarter tonner, Impeccable – both are Rolex Sydney Hobart legends having completed 25 races together – the only boat/owner combination to do so.

At 90 yrs of age John Walker will be at the helm of Impeccable in Sunday’s Great Veteran’s race


A fleet of 21 legendary Sydney Hobart yachts, with 153 Hobart races between them, will compete for the historic Windward Trophy that is presented to the first 'Great Veteran' yacht on corrected time. These include defending Great Veteran Malveena (John Westacott), three time Sydney Hobart overall winner Love and War (Simon Kurts), Struen Marie (1951 Sydney Hobart winner owned by Tom Fawcett), Southerly (Rob McAuley and John Sheridan), Fidelis (Nigel Stoke) and Stormy Petrel (Kevin O’Shea).

'It will be a beautiful day full of yachting history in action on Sydney Harbour this Sunday. Having two yachts that sailed in the 1945 Hobart race compete in the Great Veteran’s race some 68 plus years later is remarkable,' CYCA Commodore Howard Piggott said.

'Kathleen Gillett is part of the CYCA’s and Australia’s maritime history and my thanks to the Australian National Maritime Museum for making it possible for her to sail in this race. Other classic yachts designed prior to 1975 will participate in the Parade of Sail, which immediately precedes the Great Veteran’s Race.'

Kathleen Gillett


The Great Veteran’s Race, is an annual tribute to those classic Sydney Hobart Yacht race yachts that sailed south in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s and is sailed in conjunction with the opening race of the CYCA Winter Series, the non-pointscore Ladies Day race for the Jill McLay trophy.

The Ladies Day race is a tribute to Jill who was a long-term employee of the CYCA and died from cancer. Over 45 ladies will take the helm across four divisions – two spinnaker and two non-spinnaker.

The traditional Parade of Sail and Blessing of the Fleet will precede the start of the Great Veteran’s Race. At 10.30am boats will assemble at Blackburn Cove, Double Bay for the Blessing of the Fleet by the Royal Australian Navy Chaplain on board the famous 110 year old, 73ft classic Edwardian Schooner, Boomerang.

At 10.50am the cannon will be fired to commence the Review Salute to the CYCA flag officers and sail past. Boats will be judged on the water for the Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion Award. Also a Best Dressed Crew Award for all boats including spectators will be presented. The fleet will then sail/motor round Fort Denison before returning to the CYCA for Trophy presentation and prizegiving.

Sir James Hardy, KBE OBE and his beautifully restored Nerida will be one of 14 yachts to participate in the Parade of Sail. Others include the Alan Payne designed Karalee and the Arch Barber designed Yum Sing. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting south westerly winds of 15-20 knots, dropping to 10 knots before a possible shift to the north. There is a possibility of isolated showers on Sunday.

The CYCA Winter Series pointscore starts on Sunday 28 April with eleven races for ten spinnaker, three non-spinnaker (if sufficient entries are received) and a Sydney 38OD division (if sufficient entries are received). The pointscore series will consist of 10 races, with up to three drops allowed, if all ten races are completed. The race scheduled for Sunday 9 June will be a non-pointscore race. The opening and closing Ladies Day events on 21 April and 14 July do not count towards a yacht's overall series pointscore.

The great tradition of The Breakfast Club will continue once again with a band of passionate volunteers that provide crews with a traditional bbq breakfast before the day’s racing. All proceeds from Breakfast Club sales are used to purchase items for the club house to benefit members such as audio visual equipment.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia