Classic yacht Maris celebrates 50th birthday with win in Gosford – Lord Howe Island ocean race

In an historic ocean racing victory, Ian Kiernan’s classic timber yacht Sanyo Maris today celebrated the 50th anniversary of her launching with an IRC handicap win in the 414 nautical mile Hempel 35th Gosford – Lord Howe Island Race.

The 12m yawl is probably the oldest yacht to win a major long ocean in Australian waters, certainly in modern times.

Kiernan, the founder of Clean Up Australia and solo round-the-world yachtsman, now has his helm set on the second part of the 50th birthday – skippering Sanyo Maris in this year’s 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

“Maris has never been in better shape… the sponsorship of Sanyo and Veolia has allowed us to bring her right up the latest ocean racing standards,” an elated Kiernan said on Lord Howe Island today.

Sanyo Maris finished last in the 14 boat fleet, at 11:01:52 this morning, taking just over 70 hours to complete the crossing of the northern Tasman Sea in the race which started from Broken Bay last Saturday.

With the lowest IRC rating (handicap) in the fleet, she won the IRC division by a comfortable 3 hours 17 minutes and 41 seconds from a former race winner, Warwick Sherman’s Cookson 12 Occasional Coarse Language.

Third place went to the Newcastle yacht One for the Road, a Northshore 37 owned by Kym Butler from the Newcastle Yacht Club.

“We had a great trip across, although we probably encountered more breeze than most of the fleet, maintaining an average of 6 knots, even though at times we had three reefs in the main and a reef in the mizzen,” Kiernan added.

He has owned Maris for 38 years, having bought the boat from the late Jack Earl, a renowned marine artist and globe-girdling yachtsman who skippered his earlier boat, Kathleen, in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Race in 1945.

Designed by the late Alan Payne, who also designed Gretel, Australia’s first challenger for the America’s Cup, Maris is a Tasman Seabird class yacht, noted for their seakindly sailing qualities.

Jack Earl named the yacht after his daughter Maris and one of her daughters, Tiare Tomaszewski, is now a part-owner with her brother Ben. Tiare sailed in the race to Lord Howe Island and Ben will join the boat for Hobart. A third partner is prominent Lord Howe Island resident John Green.

“I have to say it’s good to have the Earl family back involved after 38 years as that deal (with Jack on a windy day board Maris in Mosman Bay) back in 1970 was the start of a very strong bond between our families,” Kiernan added.

Another veteran yacht, the 38-year-old Polaris of Belmont, skippered by Chris Dawe, a member of the organising club, Gosford Sailing Club, won the PHS division, also finishing the race this morning.

On PHS corrected times, Polaris of Belmont, a Cole 43 built in Gosford in 1970, won by 2 hours 16 minutes from More Witchcraft, skippered by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia rear commodore John Cameron. Third place has gone to the Radford 12, Copernicus, skippered by Greg Zyner from Manly Yacht Club.

Ian Kiernan and Warwick Sherman are members of the CYCA, although Kiernan also listed membership of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club on his entry form.

Other members of the winning crew of Sanyo Maris were John Green,Martin Farrand (“a Kiwi mate of 30 years who enjoys social climbing by cross the Tasman”), Chris Oh from the Amateurs, David Hayes, a regular Ragamuffin crew member.

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