Sydney’s waterways have given birth to many world class sailors and siblings dinghy sailing on the weekend over summer is a popular Australian pastime for those living on the coastal fringes.
This week’s Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is where some of the prodigies are displaying their well honed talent, and while they may be lined with the sun’s etchings, the same sibling rivalry that is a rite of passage between brothers in boyhood endures.
Steve Phillips’ Le Renard (AUS) and Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan (AUS) has two older brothers, Colin Beashel and Alby Pratt, racing against two younger brothers, Adam Beashel and Doug Pratt. And the stakes are high says Doug.
'We grew up in a small house in Avalon and Alby and I used to fight like cats and dogs. He used to hit me if I didn’t go sailing on a Sunday,' laughs Doug. 'For these Worlds it’s the old bucks versus the young bucks for bragging rights.'
So is there some good old fashioned Aussie sledging going on between the brothers once on the battleground? 'Not so much verbal ribbing as sign language,' smiles Doug, Hooligan’s bowman.
The brothers are still northern beaches based, Doug at Newport and North sailmaker Alby at Harbord, and very much part of the ‘Pittwater mafia’, an in-joke around the dock given how many Australian sailors hail from that particular corner of Sydney.
The White brothers, Mitch and younger brother by two years, Morgan, grew up sailing on Middle Harbour. They have navigated a gentler path through brotherhood says Mitch, the older and feistier brother. ‘Morgs’ has a slightly different version of the story. 'Mitch always bosses me around,' says the quiet achiever.
Morgan is sailing bow this week on Chris Way and Ian Burns’ Easy Tiger II (AUS), while Mitch is the bowman on Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ Transfusion (AUS), now second to defending World Champions Nerone (ITA) by a single point after race eight, the last for the day.
With their names starting with the same letter, both professional sailors, both bowmen, for this regatta at least, and being similar in appearance, they are often mixed up, which adds to the friendly rivalry and like twins, sometimes it has its advantages.
Australian Olympic medal winning sailor Colin Beashel and younger brother Adam Beashel grew up on Pittwater to the north of Sydney. Their nine year age gap and the fact they took pretty different tacks with sailing might be reasons they are very supportive of each other’s career.
Colin, a resident of Avalon, crewed on the winning Australia II America’s Cup team in 1983 and represented Australia at six Olympics games while Adam opted for 49ers and the America’s Cup, sailing for New Zealand.
'There’s not too many times we’ve been at the same regatta,' said Colin at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, the host club for the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds, this morning prior to heading to the Manly Circle course area for races 7 and 8 on the penultimate day of competition.
Both Beashels are trimming the mainsail for these Worlds, Colin on Le Renard and Adam on Hooligan.
A bit like the White brothers, the younger Adam has a glint in his eye when asked about the spirit of competition between he and his big brother. 'We are having speed races.' Seems blood is not as thick as salt water.