CYCA announces ocean racing awards, top gong to Hickman

Roger Hickman has been named the ocean racer of the year by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, at a gala cocktail party hosted at the club this evening.

The CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Awards recognises yachting excellence for the twelve month period of July 2013-July 2014 and Hickman’s win caps off a stellar 12 months for the owner of Wild Rose, a Farr 43. Hickman has accumulated over 40 years of ocean racing experience. In 2013-14 he notched up his 7th CYCA Blue Water Championship after winning first overall in the CYCA Blue Water Championship Cape Byron Series and Tasman Performance Series. He finished first in both his IRC and ORCi divisions in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, first in division in both the IRC Australian and New South Wales Championships in April and his team finished first overall in the Southern Cross Cup.

Chris Rockell was presented with the Sally Gordon Memorial Trophy for ocean crew person of the year by Sally Gordon's sister Anne Gordon.  Rockell is an integral part of the St George Midnight Rambler crew in the role of mainsheet trimmer and coordinating all logistics for the boat including entry paperwork, crew training, deliveries and return passages.

“Chris has been part of the St George Midnight Rambler crew for many years now,” Ed Psaltis said in the nomination, “and over the past twelve months has been integral in St George Midnight Rambler sailing season.

“He has competed in all the CYCA Blue Water Pointscore series races, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the CYCA Trophy Series, Gosford Lord Howe Island Race and many other CYCA events.

“Chris has given both his time and organisational ability to assist and in most cases ensure that St George Midnight Rambler gets to the start line.  He is a crew member that does it all. He has coordinated entry paperwork, crew training, deliveries and return passages and much more,” Psaltis added.

Brothers Martin and Derek Sheppard were named the ocean racing rookies of the year. Their most recent purchase, Black Sheep a Beneteau 45, has notched up some impressive results. In their first season campaigning on the ocean racing circuit they competed in the CYCA’s 2013-2014 Blue Water Pointscore Series where they finished seventh in the Blue Water Championship, second in the Cape Byron Pointscore (the ORCi category of the Blue Water Series) behind Wild Rose, the Blue Water Champion and 7th in the Tasman Pointscore (the PHS category of the Blue Water Series).

Prior to purchasing their own yacht, these ocean racing rookies clocked up many miles and experience crewing on Noel Cornish’s St Jude.

Phil Molony was named ocean veteran of the year. At 73 this ocean racing veteran has clocked up 24 Sydney Hobart races. Over the course of the last twelve months, he and his crew of Papillon have come into their own with some of their best work since 2010 when they started to campaign their current yacht.

Competing in the CYCA 2013-2014 Blue Water Pointscore series they finished second overall in the opener, the Sydney Gold Coast Race, no mean feat in some very tricky weather. Molony finished third in IRC in the Bird Island Race and sailed consistently for the rest of the series to secure third place in the Blue Water Pointscore, just two points behind the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner Victoire.

Jenifer Wells, navigator on Wild Rose, the CYCA Blue Water Champion for 2013-2014, has been named the ocean racing navigator of the year.

Since its inception in 1985, the Ocean Racer of the Year Award has gone to many of Australia’s most notable ocean racing skippers, starting with Tasmanian Don Calvert and including Victorians Gino Knezic and Lou Abrahams, South Australian Kevan Pearce, New South Welshmen Roger Hickman, Geoff Ross, Matt Allen (twice), Bob Thomas and Ed Psaltis (twice), Syd Fischer (four times), Bob Steel and Mike Green, Stephen Ainsworth and South Australian Geoff Boettcher and Darryl Hodgkinson.

The crew person of the year list of winners includes some of the best Australian sailors who have played significant roles in the success of the boats on which they sailed. Among the winners have been David Blanchfield (NSW), Brad Stephens (NSW), Phil Thompson (NSW), Julian Freeman (Tas), Tom Braidwood (NSW), Ian ‘Barney’ Walker (Vic), Adrienne Cahalan (NSW), the late Sally Gordon (NSW), Lori Wilson (NSW), Brett Filby (NSW), Tony Ellis (NSW), Kingsley Piesse (VIC), Peter Inchbold (NSW), Gail Harland (NSW) and last year Jenifer Wells.

The ocean veteran of the year winners have included Alby Burgin (NSW) twice, the late Merv Finn (WA), the late John Bennetto (Tas), Dick Fidock (SA), John Walker (NSW) three times, Lou Abrahams (Vic), Don Mickleborough (NSW), the late Richard Hammond (NSW), Alex Whitworth (NSW) twice, Bruce Gould (NSW) and Tony Ellis (NSW).

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