Ralph Roberts awarded SPARC Lifetime Achievement award

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ralph Roberts, pictured at the SPARC awards ceremony in Hamilton. Photo by: David Gall/SPARC
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Yachting New Zealand Board Director and well known yachtsman, Ralph Roberts (MBE and JP) has been awarded the highly prestigious SPARC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Roberts, whose involvement with yachting spans decades, was one of three leaders in sport presented the Award at a ceremony for the inaugural New Zealand Sport and Recreation Sector Awards in Hamilton last night. Other recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 were Lois Muir OBE DCNZM and Peter Fitzsimmons OBE OBE.

Sir Wilson Whineray, who led the independent judging panel, said the award winners thoroughly deserved to be recognised by their peers in this way. ``These three individuals are passionate and dedicated New Zealanders who have made an enormous contribution as sportspeople and sports administrators,’’ Sir Wilson said.

Roberts was President of the New Zealand Yachting Federation between 1986 and 1989 and was awarded the MBE for services to yachting and sport in 1993. He competed at the Olympic Games in 1960 and 1968 and was reserve crew in 1964.

In 1984 Roberts was Sectional Manager of the New Zealand Olympic sailing team that won two gold medals and a bronze, and in 1992 he was Chef d’Mission for the New Zealand Olympic Team.

Geoff Smale and Ralph Roberts (crew) pictured at the 1968 FD Olympic Trials
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Roberts is a member of the ISAF Review Board as well as ISAF’s Youth World Championship Sub-Committee. He is a past winner of numerous National Yachting titles, has been Commodore of the Takapuna Boating Club, is their current President and a Life Member and is a trustee of Habour Sports.

It is of interest that two of the inaugural awardees, Ralph Roberts and Peter Fitzsimmons OBE are both trustees of the Harbour Access Trust charged with investigating and developing concepts for the new takapuna and Browns bay wharves.

In Blind and Disabled sailing, Roberts was one of the team of people who has been working with Blind Sailing and the IFDS Worlds.

Roberts is Area L (Oceania) Councillor to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), an ISAF Review Board member, ISAF Youth Worlds Sailing Championship sub-Committee member and member of the ISAF International Yachting Trust.

In 2004 Roberts was the first laureate inductee into the North Harbour Enterprise Business hall of fame.

He was also one of the original Waterwise advocates since the program's inception in the early 1980's

Ralph is married to Penny, has six children, six grand children and lives in Takapuna, Auckland.

At the ceremony Awards were also presented to recognise excellence in innovation, leadership, events, project collaboration and commercial partnership. Yachting New Zealand’s Sailing... Have a Go! Programme which provides young New Zealanders with the opportunity to try sailing was one of three finalists for the Innovation Award. Bowls New Zealand’s Mates in Bowls was announced the winner in this category.

For US readers, Roberts was the NZ Olympic Yachting Team Manager at the 1984 Olympics in Long Beach and was instrumental in the famous wet clothes weighing incident which confirmed the Gold medal for Russell Coutts in the Finn class. Roberts was also involved in umpiring at the Congressional Cup in Long Beach for many years.

International 14 Ft. Dinghy Team Races in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. 1958 L-R: Gerald Parks, Geoff Smale (NZ), Bud Whittaker, CAN), “Bungy” McCrae (NZ), Uffa Fox (UK), Harry Jemmet (CAN), Jim Stephens (CAN), Ian Pryde (NZ), ???, Bruce Kirby (CAN), Stewart Morris (UK), Michael Pope (UK), Mike Peacock (UK), Ray Simich (NZ), Keith Shackleton (UK), Ralph Roberts (NZ), Doug Roberts (CAN), Ron Watson(NZ), Harvey Bongard (CAN), Paul Henderson (CAN),
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Ralph Roberts (right) FD reserve when Helmer Perdersen (second right) and Earle Wells won the Gold medal at the 1964 Olympics, Tokyo
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Winning the 1968 FD Olympic Trials
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