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Justin Wells named CYCA Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year

by Peter Campbell/Jennifer Crooks on 14 Dec 2012
Tasmanian S2H entrant Martela broaching dramatically in the Hobart Combined Clubs race on Saturday Fourhills.com.au
Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member Justin Wells has been named the Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year at the Ocean Racer of the Year cocktail party at the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania in Sydney.

The award came as Wells and his crew began preparing for their second Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in the Ker 11.3 Dump Truck (the former Tow Truck) which he and co-owner Edward Fader bought in 2010.

Under Wells guidance, Dump Truck finished last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart 35th overall and second in IRC Division 2, despite being at the mercy of uncongenial winds. Dump Truck was also the first boat under 40 feet to cross the finish line, winning the Battery Point Trophy.

Wells (skippering) and Fader have had considering success in offshore racing in Tasmanian, including winning the 2011-2012 Combined Clubs Offshore Championship.

In late October Dump Truck finished second overall to fellow Tasmanian competitor, Martela, in the Isle of Caves Race, won the Bay of Fires race in mid-October, was second in IRC in the Maria Island Race in November 2011 and won Group 1 IRC division in the Betsey Island Race in January from Rolex Sydney Hobart rivals Whistler (David Rees) and Cougar II.

Dump Truck is one of four Tasmanian yachts contesting this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, the others being Tony Lyall’s TP52 Cougar II, Rob Fisher’s Adams 20 Helsal III and Tony Williams’ IMX 40 Martela.

All except Helsal III are now either in or on their way from Hobart to Sydney, with Martela making a spectacular final appearance on Hobart’s River Derwent in last Saturday’s Combined Clubs harbour racing series.

After placing third in the first two windward/leeward races, Martela broached as she crossed the finish line, clipping the side of the committee vessel. She was recorded DNF which may have cost her a win in the pre-Christmas series.

Fortunately, the damage to both boats was minable and Williams and his delivery crew set sail for Sydney on Sunday. 'We are very happy with the way the boat has been going in local harbour and long distance races,' Williams said in mobile phone call from Wineglass Bay on Tasmania’s east coast. 'The finish line broach was certainly a spectacular finale to the harbour series, but we suffered no real damage.'

The CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Awards recognises yachting excellence for the 12 month period from July 2011-July 2012.

Darryl Hodgkinson was been named the Ocean Racer of the Year. Hodgkinson, the owner of Victoire, a Beneteau 45, only just last December was named the Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year (2010/2011), and has since gone from strength to strength.

Hodgkinson clinched the CYCA’s 2012 Blue Water Pointscore Series from Ragamuffin by five points, having won the Cabbage Tree Island and Flinders Islet yacht races and finished first in IRC Division 3 in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Gail Harland, a crew member of Patrice Six, was awarded the Sally Gordon Memorial Trophy for Ocean Crew Person of the Year. Harland has completed 17 Sydney Hobarts and is second only to former award winner, Adrienne Cahalan, who has contested 20 Hobarts.

For the second time, Syd Fischer has been named the Ocean Veteran of the Year. Fischer has won the CYCA Blue Water championship a record nine times and has been named Ocean Racer of the Year four times. This is his 50th season of ocean racing.

Phil Eadie, navigator on Victoire, was named Ocean Racing Navigator of the Year. Ironically, he was the inaugural recipient of this award when it was introduced in 2008.

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 and last year, co-winners, Sydney yachtsman Stephen Ainsworth and South Australian Geoff Boettcher.

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), Richard Hammond (NSW), Alex Whitworth (NSW), twice, Bruce Gould (NSW) and Tony Ellis (NSW).

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