Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race – Hong Kong entry in race for historic Lipton Cup

When competitors leave the Sydney Harbour start line in the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s (RPAYC) inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race on Saturday 7 October 2023, a sense of history will beckon all, including Antipodes from Hong Kong, as the overall winner’s name will be carved on the historic Lipton Cup.

Valued at $90,000, the Lipton Cup is a hallmarked sterling silver trophy made by Goldsmiths and Silversmith Company, established in 1880. It was commissioned and presented to the RPAYC by Sir Thomas Lipton, one of only two people (Australia’s Syd Fischer is the other) to self-fund five America’s Cup campaigns.

A keen yachtsman, the British Lipton tea baron raced his Shamrock yachts five times at the Cup without success, between 1899 and 1930, yet he remained a respected and popular figure among the America’s Cup set.

Having been blackballed by the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) as a person involved in trade, Lipton mounted his challenges for the America’s Cup as a member of Royal Ulster Yacht Club in Bangor. In the last months of his life (1931), the RYS lifted the ban, addressing one of Sir Thomas’ two major ambitions, the other left unfulfilled.

A rags-to-riches story, thanks to Lipton tea, Sir Thomas, on his death bed, donated his vast fortune to veterans and nurses of the First World War and to the City of Glasgow.

At its General Monthly Meeting held on the 14 May, 1908, the yet to become ‘Royal’ club, the Prince Alfred Yacht Club itemised the generous donation of this precious trophy by Sir Thomas Lipton, for competition in any class the committee decided.

The Club received the Cup in 1920 and the Committee named it the ‘Lipton Cup’. It was awarded for the first time in 1922 to the yacht that obtained the best record in all Club races for the season. In later years it went to the best yacht from the offshore division.

A strong friendship existed between Sir Thomas and the RPAYC. He invited his friend, the Club’s Commodore (1914-1921) and NSW politician, Walter M Marks MHR, to be a guest on Shamrock IV, marking the first Australian to be involved in the Americas Cup. Marks took part in the sailing trials before she set sail for America and the Cup.

Now competitors in the Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race have something special to aim for. The winner will be declared after the fleet crosses the finish line in Auckland Harbour, via the race’s finishing partner, Royal Akarana Yacht Club.

One of the latest entrants in the race and the first international, is Geoff Hill, with Antipodes. The Santa Cruz 72 is registered in Hong Kong and Hill is sailing for Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.

“Richard Hudson (RPAYC director) has raced with me a few times. He told us about the race and talked me into doing it. It will be a challenging race, as goes across Tasman Sea, but we thought it would be exciting for us to do,” Hill said.

“I hope my daughter Natasha will be able to join us and I think Richard will be with us too. He’s a very good person to have on the boat and we’re good friends.

Hill has racked up plenty of ocean miles in a long sailing career: “That’s what the boat was built for,” Hill says.

“Since 2011 we’ve done roughly 11000 sea miles with Antipodes, so we are used to long distance racing. “We’ve sailed a lot out of Hong Kong in Asia. We’ve won division in Thailand at the Kings Cup and the Raja Muda Regatta and she holds the race record for Darwin to Dili and Darwin to Ambon yacht races. And we did the Groupama race in Noumea last year.”

On sailing for the Lipton Cup, Hill says, “We sailed an event in Singapore for a Sir Thomas Lipton Cup and are delighted to be racing for this one.”

For all information, including entry and Notice of Race, please visit: www.sydneytoauckland.com

For enquiries regarding the race, please contact Race Director, Nick Elliott on +61 2 9998-3700 or email: nick.elliott@rpayc.com.au

By Di Pearson/Sydney to Auckland media

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