Former World champion Fireball sailor and Olympic Flying Dutchman skipper Gary Smith, a member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, has been inducted into the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame.
Smith is only the fourth yachtsman to be inducted into the Sporting Hall of Fame, joining more than 110 elite Tasmanian sports persons, ranging from hockey players to champion axemen and Australian Rules footballers and cricketers.
He joined Olympic hockey player Kim Walker and Australian football icon John Leedham in being inducted into the Sporting Hall of Fame, with Premier Will Hodgman making the presentations as State Minister for Sport and Recreation last Friday.
Smith is the first yachtsman in 27 years to be inducted into the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame.
The only other Tasmanian yachtsmen to be recognised in this elite group have been those great sailors of pre-World War II, Harry Cyril Batt, Harry Neal Batt and William Percy (“skipper”), all now deceased.
In introducing the three inductees for 2014, Premier Hodgman said that Gary Smith continues the great tradition of outstanding sailors produced by our island state.
“The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member has had an outstanding career in dinghies and keelboats,” he said.
“Gary claimed the Fireball class Australian Championships in 1983, before going on to win the World Championships in San Francisco in 1984.
“He then went on to sail in the Lightweight Sharpie class, winning the Australian championships in 1986. Both titles were won in boats he built.
“Gary then moved on to Flying Dutchman, winning the Australian Championships and Olympic Trials before competing at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.”
Gary was inducted into the Tasmanian Yachting Hall of Fame in 2010.
Garry now races the Bakewell-White 45, The Fork in the Road, in most of Tasmania’s long offshore races, having taken line honours in the Bruny Island, Maria Island and Launceston to Hobart races.
The Fork in the Road heads the fleet for this year’s National Pies Launceston to Hobart race, with entries closing last week. A fleet of 23 yachts, including one from Victoria and four from Tamar River clubs, have entered this eighth Launceston to Hobart Race, conducted by the Derwent Sailing Squadron in association with the Tamar Yacht Club.
– Peter Campbell