Please select your home edition
Edition
T Clewring - Generic

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..

Zhik Yachting 660x82Barz Optics - Kids rangeSchaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82

Related Articles

Edgartown Race Week - Overall report
Four races were held today, in nine - twelve knots from the southwest for the IRC fleet. This is the third leg of the east coast IRC summer series. Four races were held today, in nine - twelve knots from the southwest for the IRC fleet. The three TP52’s had hard fought battles as usual.
Posted today at 6:35 am
Conch Republic Cup - More than just a race to Cuba
When relations between U.S. and Cuba were restored in 2015, Conch Republic Cup was resurrected after a 13-year hiatus. When diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba were restored in 2015, the Conch Republic Cup was resurrected after a forced 13-year hiatus.
Posted today at 6:02 am
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Lone bullets for the Brits
Despite three more inshore races being held on day five France Blue leads with a similar 11.5 point margin to yesterday 2016 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Despite three more inshore races being held on day five of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event for three boat teams with Corinthian crews, France Blue leads with a similar 11.5 point margin to yesterday, but Flanders North Sea is now the team that has relieved France White of second place overall.
Posted today at 2:10 am
Supermaxi Scallywag has her first outing on Sydney Harbour
Scallywag is a 100' Super Maxi Yacht (ex Ragamuffin 100) owned by a HongKong Business man. Scallywag is a 100' Super Maxi Yacht (ex Ragamuffin 100) owned by a HongKong Business man. Yesterday the boat took it first sail on Sydney Harbour in preparation for this weekend's start of the CYCA Land Rover Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race
Posted on 28 Jul
Extreme Sailing Series– Oman Air sneak early lead despite bump on nose
Hamburg’s River Elbe in the HafenCity area was transformed into the ultimate test in Stadium Racing today Hamburg’s River Elbe in the HafenCity area was transformed into the ultimate test in Stadium Racing today, with the narrow river, passing traffic, high walls, shifty light winds and strong currents challenging the fleet on the opening day
Posted on 28 Jul
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Week – Quantum Racing top of the pops
Quantum Racing stand on the threshold of their third regatta win of the season after sailing to their fourth win today. The Bay of Palma lived up to its one way traffic reputation for most of the time. The risk-reward equation for those pressing for the pin end launch was high. But significantly both of today’s race winners – Quantum Racing and Bronenosec– favoured the lower risk mid line starts where they had a better chance of coming away from the gun at maximum speed by staying clear of the jousting and jostling
Posted on 28 Jul
Debriefing the 2015-16 Clipper Round The World Race with Huw Fernie
Sail-World talked with Huw Fernie of Visit Seattle to learn more about a Clipper Round The World Race skipper’s life. Skipper Huw Fernie and his Visit Seattle crew took top honors in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, marking their second podium finish during the 2015/16 Clipper Round The World Race. I recently caught up with Fernie to learn more about Visit Seattle’s success in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, and to learn more about the life of a Clipper Round The World Race skipper.
Posted on 28 Jul
Oman Air quick to master light airs on Day 1 of Extreme Sailing Series
Last year’s wild and gusty winds gave way to light simmering airs but the Oman Sail was quick to master the conditions. The compact River Elbe race course, bordered on all sides by cargo containers and all the handling equipment associated with one of the busiest ports in the world, was expected to be tricky for the GC32 fleet even though the race area had been expanded.
Posted on 28 Jul
Finale of Clipper Race global series starts in The Netherlands
The 198nm race to London is going to be one of the most nail-biting yet with just six points separating the top teams After a Departure Ceremony from Willemsoord Marina and a Parade of Sail in the presence of Dutch Royal Navy ship ZrMs Luymes, the fleet started the final short sprint to London off the Dutch coast.
Posted on 28 Jul
Thousands of spectators expected to welcome home Clipper Race fleet
Hurricane winds, giant waves, freezing conditions, battered boats and tragedy fail to quell fighting spirit of the crew. The tenth edition of the famous biennial race for novice sailors led by professional skippers is regarded as the most challenging on record after the event endured the most extreme conditions it has ever faced in its 20-year history.
Posted on 28 Jul