Australian Sailing mourns passing of Sir James Hardy OBE

Sailing in Australia has lost one of its most loved identities, with Sir James Hardy OBE passing away in Adelaide aged 90.

An absolute colossus of the sport, Hardy inspired a generation of Australian sailors after competing in and winning many of sailing’s most prestigious races.

“There will never be another Sir James,” said Australian Sailing President Alistair Murray AM.

“His contribution to the sport cannot be understated. He was beloved by everyone he met and could not have given more of himself to driving the success of sailing in Australia. Personally, he was my hero, and I was proud to call him my friend.

“On behalf of Australian Sailing, I would like to share our sadness at the news and pass our condolences to his family and the many sailing friends he made along the way.”

Raised in Seacliff, South Australia, Hardy won his first national championship in the Flying Dutchman class at age 16 before being selected as a reserve for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games. He would go on to compete at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where he finished seventh in the 5.5 Metre class with Gilbert Kaufman as Crew.

“Gentleman Jim” won the 505 Class World Championships in Adelaide in 1966 and competed in four Admiral’s Cups culminating in being number one helmsman of the winning yacht “Impetuous” in the 1979 Admiral’s Cup.

But it was in the America’s Cup that he went on to become a national hero.

Hardy was Skipper for three America’s Cup Challengers, Gretel II in 1970, Southern Cross in 1974 and Australia in 1980, winning Australian Yachtsman of the Year in 1981 for his efforts.

He will forever be remembered for his role as a member of the successful Australia II challenge in 1983, where he was the Reserve Helmsman and Mentor to winning Skipper John Bertrand AO.

“Jim was absolutely essential to the success of the Australia II team in winning the America’s Cup in 1983,” said Australian Sailing Director and Australia II team member Skip Lissiman OAM.”

“His experience from those previous campaigns was crucial to us, as he helped guide us through the challenges and pressures of the America’s Cup series.”

Bertrand pinched a nerve in his neck during the Challenger Series, with Hardy stepping in to Skipper Australia II to eight wins from nine races.

Hardy was made an OBE in 1975 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1981 for services to yachting and the community. In 1994 he was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, in 2000 he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal, and in 2017 he was an inaugural inductee to the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame as a member of Australia II.

Sir James is survived by his wife Joan, brother David, sister Pamela, and sons David and Richard.

Media Contact:
Michael Martin
Head of Marketing and Communications, Australian Sailing

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