Please select your home edition
Barz Optics - Melanin Lenses

Vale ‘Sighty’ Hammond a great Australian navigator

by Peter Campbell on 27 Oct 2013
Richard ’Sightie’ Hammond Richard Bennett
Richard ‘Sighty’ Hammond, who died last week in Sydney, was 'one of the great navigators and seamen in the ocean racing world,' according to former Yachting Australia president, former International Sailing Federation vice-president and past Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore David Kellett AM.

Kellett’s tribute was one of many that have been flowing in from ‘Sighty’s’ many friends and former sailing mates since his death was announced. He and Hammond sailed together on the maxi yachts Sovereign, Vengeance and Condor, with Sovereign achieving line and handicap honours in the 1987 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

In an ocean racing career spanning more than 46 years, Hammond competed in 40 Sydney Hobart Races, navigating two overall winners, Koomooloo and Sovereign, and two line honours winners, one being Sovereign in her double victory, the other aboard the British yacht Crusade.

He also sailed at the Admiral’s Cup in England many times, his organisational and navigation skills playing a key role in the success of the Australian teams, including the brilliant team victory in 1967 when he navigated Mercedes III.

'It needs to be recorded that Sighty was a great mentor and teacher of Australian navigators, due to the research and diligence he applied to understanding the tides of the Solent and Channel and generously passing that knowledge on to Admiral's Cup navigators,' came as a tribute to another leading navigator,' Lindsay May.

David Kellett said ‘Sighty’s’ success in the Sydney Hobart and the Admiral’s Cup 'speak volumes for his ability and dedication.' Kellett added that he had been honoured when ‘Sighty' had agreed to sail with him, forming a relationship that would last for many years and certainly led to the formation of a winning crew to campaign Bernard Lewis’ Sovereign.

'I learned so much from ‘Sighty’ about navigation, positioning a yacht on the race course to take best advantage of the weather, keeping the yacht up to speed, managing a yachts and crew at sea, and seamanship in heavy weather,' Kellett added.

Lindsay May recalled his own time at the Admiral’s Cup and the guidance he received from ‘Sighty’ Hammond.

'In 1983 before I went to Cowes, I used to spend every Saturday, for about two months, at Sighty's home, manually (in those days) calculating the tidal flow for The Solent and cross Channel race scenarios, determining apparent and tidal wind,' he wrote.

'Then in Cowes we shared a room for about three weeks, with the table, floor and beds littered with charts, publications and paperwork about The Solent, the Channel and tides. It was a memorable immersion into the advantages of using tidal flow that I apply every time I sail, even when the rate is minimal. When in Cowes, it’s a special feeling to just let that ebb and flow move you across the track, knowing that you appreciate the nuances and the overall picture.

'I've always believed that Australian crews at Cowes were better prepared and served than even our English competitors due to ‘Sighty's’ knowledge and preparation. Oh those endless discussions (arguments) about the 'moving carpet' and fallacy of getting the 'tide under the keel' for lift.

'In the Cherbourg race the Australian boats all reached the CH1 mark and kedged within 100m of it; if we had not been familiar with tidal wind, in those very light airs, we could have been like some of the other boats who were miles down current. To me ‘Sighty’ was the current man.'

'Vale Sighty, a lovely man and leader in our sport,' May added.

Having covered seven Admiral’s Cup in England as a yachting journalist, a few years ago I had the great pleasure of assistance ‘Sighty’ Hammond compile a series of yachting magazine articles on Australia’s significant participation in the Admiral’s. He felt this had been overlooked in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s history ‘From Ratbags to Respectability’.

In a letter to me later, ‘Sighty’ complimented me on capturing the ‘mood’ of the Admiral’s Cup at Cowes. He wrote: 'The purpose of doing all this, will I think will be achieved and the importance of the CYC’s participation can be recorded with your excellent documents.'

I am sure that ‘Sighty’ would have passed away, proud of his own outstanding achievements in ocean yacht racing but delighted that he was such a fine mentor of navigators who have followed his skills, albeit with much more modern technical equipment.

Attached to that letter from ‘Sighty’ was a list of some of the yachtsmen from around the world he had sailed with as navigator/tactician. It reads like a ‘who’s who’ of international yachtsmen: Ben Lexcen (Ginkgo, Apollo III), Syd Fischer (Ragamuffin), Ted Kaufman (Mercedes III), Peter Kurts (Love and War), British yachtsmen Sir Max Aitken (Crusade, UK) and Arthur Slater (Prospect of Whitby, UK), David Kellett (Sovereigh,Vengeance and Condor), John Bertrand (Superstar and Apollo V), Denis O’Neil (Koomooloo, Bondi Tram and Inch by Winch), his good friend from Cowes Bobby Lowein (Prospect of Whitby, Crusade, UK), Ian Kiernan (Maris), David Forbes (Love and War and Ragamuffin), Hugh Treharne (Bondi Tram and Inch by Winch), American Lowell North (Ragamuffin), UK Olympic gold medallist Rodney Patterson (Crusade), Gordon Ingate (Pam)….and the list went on.

Richard ‘Sighty’ Hammond was a member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

A memorial service will be held at St Mathews Church, 1 Darley Road,Manly, NSW on Thursday 31st October at 10.00am..

Mackay Boatsupffront 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Black Baza outwits bigger boats at the China Cup International Regatta
Anthony Root’s Ker 42 custom footer outsmarted her larger competition in the extremely light and patchy breezes Anthony Root’s Ker 42 custom footer outsmarted her larger competition in the extremely light and patchy breezes and managed to pick a way through the wind holes to take the winner’s gun ahead of the bigger boats.
Posted today at 5:11 pm
Maltese success in the Rolex Middle Sea Race
With the ultimate prize going to Italy, this year’s success is defined by some impressive class wins With the ultimate prize going to Italy, this year’s success is defined by some impressive class wins and then of course the all-important bragging rights within the local fleet.
Posted today at 4:20 pm
The Countdown on to the 33rd Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race
In 100 days you could be sailing out of Biscayne Bay and heading out towards the Gulf Stream with the competitors' fleet Have you planned your 2017 Winter Escape yet? In just 100 days, you could be sailing out of Biscayne Bay and heading out towards the Gulf Stream with the fleet of competitors in the 33rd edition
Posted today at 12:53 pm
Top Chinese solo sailor missing on record attempt to cross Pacific
Top Chinese solo sailor Guo Chuan has gone missing while trying to break the record for crossing the Pacific alone The first Chinese sailor to sail single handed around the world alone, Guo Chuan has gone missing while trying to break the record for crossing the Pacific alone. He was a few days into a voyage from San Francisco to Shanghai sailing alone on a large transoceanic trimaran.
Posted today at 10:35 am
Exit interview with Josh Adams, US Sailing's Olympic boss, part one
I caught up with Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing at US Sailing, for a two-part job-exit interview. While the USA is a historically strong sailing nation, the team suffered a medal-ceremony shutout at the London 2012 Olympics. A planned leadership change transpired and Josh Adams was named Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. Unfortunately, the job requires constant travel, which doesn’t mix with raising kids and Adams recently resigned. I talked with him for a two-part job-exit interview.
Posted on 26 Oct
Vendée Globe – Master of the School of Hard Knocks
Jérémie Beyou ranks as one of the favourites to win this eighth edition. His two last attempts ended in early abandons. Triumphant in the summer's warm up New York – Vendée Transatlantic Race and three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, the incredibly competitive solo one design classic stage offshore race which is sailed each summer in 32-foot one design Bénéteau Figaro 2s, Jérémie Beyou on Maître CoQ ranks as one of the favourites to win this eighth edition
Posted on 26 Oct
Rolex Middle Sea Race – Overall winner announced
The Royal Malta Yacht Club announced that Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino is the overall winner This race crew was a mix of Italians and British sailors who have raced all over the world under the Mascalzone Latino banner and with great success.
Posted on 26 Oct
The Gitana Team Series – Awakening the senses – Smell
This week, Sébastien Josse has left the Vendée to hook up with his Breton way of life, at home, not far from Lorient. It is just eleven days until the start of the eighth Vendée Globe. In Port Olona, the public is out in force, the village and the pontoons are always full and the pressure mounts a little more each day for the twenty-nine solo sailors, who will set sail on 6 November 2016.
Posted on 26 Oct
Melges 24 World Championship in Miami – 30 days to go
This championship is anticipated to be the most crowded event of the international one-design sailing scene this year. With the day of the first start quickly approaching, the organizing machine is working in full swing: for an event of such importance, everything from race management to the on-shore activities must be organized down to the smallest detail.
Posted on 26 Oct
Rolex Middle Sea Race – Will they, won't they?
Tension was heightened as the door opened by Rambler 88’s finish in the early hours was widened further by more arrivals It was a trickle of finishers rather than a flood, but there was drama all the same, where the battle to secure class wins and post a claim to the overall title raged throughout the day. With the forecast suggesting a period of fading breeze on the course area, the race pendulum was swinging in favour of the bigger, faster yachts. The incentive to keep pushing to the finish was evident.
Posted on 26 Oct