Nominations now open for 2014 Ocean Racer of the Year Awards

Nominations are now open in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Ocean Racer of the Year Awards. The awards will be announced on Thursday 11 December 2014 and the CYCA welcomes nominations from fellow offshore clubs that have suitable candidates they feel would be eligible for these awards. 

The categories for the 2014 awards are:

·         Ocean Racing Yachtsman of the Year

·         Sally Gordon Memorial Trophy for the Ocean Crew Person of the Year

·         Ocean Veteran of the Year

·         Ocean Rookie of the Year

·         Ocean Navigator of the Year

Nominations close on Monday, 17 November 2014 and should be forwarded to the CYCA with a brief history of the candidate’s offshore performances and achievements for the period of 20 July 2013- 20 July 2014. Click here to download a copy of the nomination form.

“These awards were introduced 30 years ago to recognize the outstanding achievements of yachtsmen and women Australia wide,” CYCA Commodore John Cameron said. “I encourage Commodores of fellow clubs and yacht owners to nominate eligible individuals for these prestigious awards.”

Last year, CYCA member Stephen Ainsworth was named the CYCA Ocean Racing Yachtsman of Year having won the 2012-2013 Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS) from Celestial (Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46) by 10 points having won the 2012 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, breaking Brindabella’s 13 year-old record to claim a new record for a conventionally ballasted yacht with his Reichel/Pugh 63, Loki. 

Ainsworth also notched up wins in the Flinders Islet and Cabbage Tree Island races and finished second overall to Wild Oats XI in the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart after winning the race overall in 2011.

Michael Bellingham, navigator on Loki, the CYCA Blue Water champion for 2012/2013, was named the Ocean Racing Navigator of the Year. This was the second time Bellingham has received the award, playing a major role in Stephen Ainsworth’s successes.

The Sally Gordon Memorial Trophy for Ocean Crew Person of the Year went to Jenifer Wells. The Crew Person of the Year award was rededicated in 2010 in memory of Sally Gordon who lost her life in the CYCA’s Flinders Islet race (2009). Sally was a previous recipient of the award in 2000.

Wells is an integral part of the Wild Rose crew acting as navigator when required and coordinating all logistics for the boat including entry paperwork, crew training and return passages. 

Sydney businessman Chris Bran was named the Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year. Since he purchased his Beneteau First 40, Brannew in February 2012 “to race in the Hobart”, Bran notched up some impressive results.

The Sydney yachtsman finished 18th overall in the 2012 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in which he won Division 3. He replicated his 18th overall result in the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart, with a second in Division 3, after using the CYCA’s Winter Series for crew training and to explore the inner workings of the boat.

Bran went on to secure his first major offshore victory (although it occurred outside of the award criteria) winning the 2013 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race overall.

Syd Fischer OBEwas named the Ocean Veteran of the Year for the third time after completing his 50th offshore season in 2012/2013. His season highlights included being second to Loki after the first three races of the BWPS with his TP52 Ragamuffin. This was before he stepped up to the 100 foot Ragamuffin which he sailed to second on line behind Wild Oats XI in the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Fischer then went on to claim the fastest time for a monohull (with Ragamuffin 100) in the 2,225 nautical mile 2013 Transpac Race from California to Hawaii in July 2013 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Yachting Awards.

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 and Sydney yachtsmen Syd Fischer (four times), Roger Hickman, Geoff Ross, Matt Allen (twice), and Bob Thomas and Ed Psaltis (twice).

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), Lori Wilson (NSW), the late Sally Gordon (NSW), Brett Filby (NSW), Tony Ellis (NSW) and Tom Barker (NSW).

The Ocean Veteran of the Year winners have included Syd Fischer (NSW, three times), Alby Burgin (NSW, twice), the late Merv Finn (WA), the late John Bennetto (Tas), Dick Fidock (SA), the late John Walker (NSW, four times), the late Lou Abrahams (Vic), Don Mickleborough (NSW), the late Richard Hammond (NSW) and Alex Whitworth (NSW), twice.

Further information can be obtained from Justine Kirkjian, Sailing Manager, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Ph (02) 8292 7800 or email

By Jennifer Crooks, CYCA Media

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