Tasmanian Bob Cumming established his own special place in Sydney Hobart Race history when he steered the 30ft (9.24m) Screw loose to victory 31 years ago.
Screw Loose, designed by Ron Holland, remains in the race record books as the smallest yacht to win the 628n/ml blue water classic described as the toughest race on International sailing calendar.
Skipper Bob Cumming and crew took almost 109 hours to complete the journey with an average speed of 5.76 knots to eventually claim a deserved place in Hobart Race history when they scored a narrow three minute win over Wheel Barrow followed two minutes later by Apali with another minute to Shenandoah.
All four crews held a chance of winning when they entered the River Derwent after a spinnaker ride across Bass Strait and down the east coast of Tasmania.
However it was Bob Cumming and his crew of Tasmanian sailing mates who enjoyed their first warm shower and cold beer in over four days after they secured the mooring lines to the historical Constitution Dock.
The record of being the smallest yacht to win the Sydney Hobart is unlikely to be repeated.
Her history obviously became a distant memory when the Hobart champion became a roost for the resident sea birds in the Royal Papua Yacht Club Marina in Port Moresby.
I enjoyed the distinction of sitting in her small cockpit reminiscing along with long term sailing mate and Air Niugini chief pilot Peter Sharpe but was personally worried about her state of neglect.
Her deck was caked in sea bird crap while her sail-fast hull was smothered with marine growth thick enough for the small tropical fish to safely hide from their predators.
Thankfully Screw Loose has found a new owner who has taken pride in fitting her out as a comfortable cruising sloop.
The 1979 Sydney Hobart race champion like many other Sydney Hobart racing yachts including the 1979 Line Honours champion the former John Kahlbetzer owned Bumblebee IV (Maxi Ragamuffin) now call the lovely aquatic tourist destination of Airlie Beach home.
Screw Loose is presently resting in her hard stand cradle next to the Whitsunday Sailing Club dinghy shed and when her refit is completed will add further entries to her famous log book in local fleet racing.
- Ian "Stripey" Grant
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