sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Goodness. Gracious. A story of the Doyen, Lou Abrahams. (Pt II.)
Goodness. Gracious. A story of the Doyen, Lou Abrahams. (Pt II.)

'Lou Abrahams - Sydney Hobart Yacht Race'    Crosbie Lorimer

In Part One, we got to see how Lou Abrahams made a start in boating and then racing, becoming one of the sport’s most iconic figures in the process. He joined a very select group of souls as a result of his long association with another Australian legend, the Sydney Hobart Race. As that particular event looms ever closer on the calendar once more, we pick up the story with Lou and that ill-fated year of 1998.
Mark Bulka skippers ’The Next Challenge’ to victory for Lou Abrahams - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012 -  Damia Devine   Click Here to view large photo

This experience curve has also provided Lou with proof for one of his theories, ‘The 40 footer goes over waves in Bass Strait differently. You can get in between the big ones and you are not going too fast. You can slow them down.’ In his time, Lou has seen many a race to Eden. ‘In 1998, it was sad to see sailors perish and also to have Winston Churchill go. We completed the ‘98 through prudence and we stopped racing to go in to survival mode. It was going to be a milestone race because of what it was, so I said ‘Let's try and finish it!!!’

‘It almost frightened me that we lost a man and I am so proud that we got Garry (Schipper) back. We went back on the course we had come from and he was there, in the pitch-black night. Col Anderson put the boat right up next to him. I am sure he was the best man for the job, as he brings his own boat up to its swing mooring with no auxiliary power.’

As part of that testament to seamanship and considered approach to boat preparation, Lou insists on extra halyard length, which means it can reach the water. ‘We could not have got Skip on otherwise. Saved his life as we could then winch him on.’ You see, Garry was not a slight man, which is why Lou smiled when he said, ‘…getting bulky Skippy (140kg+) on board was a major feat in itself.’ Years later, Garry would finally succumb to his battle with cancer, but in the intervening time he put to use his brush with death and became a much loved speaker about safety at sea.

At the time, they all thought it was ‘The longest 20 minutes of their lives.’ Alas, from MOB button being pushed by Lou, to then being cancelled, only 10 minutes had elapsed. ‘It was great work by the crew and we were very proud, but I did have an empty feeling afterwards. It was a precise, considered, calm and methodical display by the terrific sailors we had on board. We knew where the gear was and it was reasonably organised. Safety gear has certainly come up a couple of rungs after that’, said Lou.

One of the other souls that has been part of it all for such along time is Rowan Simpson, who would have to be the best Aide de Camp, ever. ‘Back in the early 80’s, Lou had Hood sails on board and I had a connection with Norths. Lou asked me when I was coming for a sail and I put it off for four weeks. After I finally went out, Lou asked me what I was doing next month and added, ‘come to the Kenwood Cup with me.’ And again we find out another surprise, for Lou was part of the board that incepted the Clipper Cup, as a way to get crews from the USA, Japan and Australia to compete with each other.

As Rowan says, ‘Yes Lou is fiercely determined, iron willed, but also iron stomached, for in his latter years, Lou did all of the navigation from down below!’

Of all his many and varied international exploits and successes, Lou comments ‘It was a lot of good racing. Sailing over in the UK and English Channel was different with the tides and putting the anchor out to stop going backwards. They’re great sailors and it was a whole new navigation exercise, too.’

Of the seven Fastnet races he competed in, Lou said, ‘It’s not quite as tough as the Hobart, as half of it is OK – if you beat there, you run back, but it does fog up a lot. He was the Australian Team Manager during the tragic 78 Fastnet, which he says was ‘pretty exciting’. Syd Fischer was very strong willed, but we got on well after a rocky start. It was good racing with Police Car and Sir Jim Hardy on Impetuous there, too. Exciting times, but you wondered why you did it when you saw the bills!!!’

So what does a man who’s seen the Gentleman's era of sailing, with roast meals cooked under any conditions, cravats, past oilskins, through greasy wool jumpers and PVC wet weather gear and on to polar fleece breathable fabrics, as the transition from inside to outside took place, have to say of it all. ‘I enjoyed the early era with the camaraderie, but those canvas slicks (oilskins) let as much water in as kept out.

Koomaloo, the original Ragamuffin and Salacia II, these were magnificent vessels. IOR has gone, IMS arrived and did the same, but cordage and sails have had a major difference in the intervening time, with no fraying of wire and lighter, stronger better, sails. Keeping up with the technology was a bit of a problem’, said Lou paying reference to how he got a bit disillusioned with IRC and chose to get out of the arms race with his decision to move in to One Design. ‘Cheapest sailing I've ever done. Since 2000, we’ve had two thirds overall on handicap, which is pretty good value.’

Out of it all then, what does he say of boating and sailing. ‘It’s relaxing and I like doing the long voyages, where you have a real sense of being away and in charge of my own destiny. Vittoria was great. We’d cruise the Pacific, do races in Noumea and we’d have the family on board - lots of fun and a good era.’ Somehow he even seems to take it in his stride when Rowan mentions the picture of Lou in a drysuit on the floor of Ultimate Challenge, which he wore for the whole of a Fastnet race that included his 60th birthday.

Today the boats have changed markedly and there are more pro sailors than ever before. ‘We were happy to be full time amateurs and pretty chuffed about that. It’s a bit hard to replicate it today, but back then was possible. Rowan says of his fellow crew members, ‘We’ve been sailing so long together because we have an owner who’s one of the crew, got an immaculately prepared boat, and we want to do it for Lou.’ Indeed there are lot of people who measure themselves by how near they are to Lou and Challenge, even if they are nine feet longer.

‘We go around track correctly and consider our options, said the wily Lou. At 85 he tends to pick and choose his sailing days based on the weather, which is more than fair enough. ‘It gets a bit harder these days, but its never been enough to turn me off it. I’ll go for a yacht anytime.’

These days, Lou is very much dedicated to doing what he can to ensure the Off The Beach facility at SYC, appropriately named the Lou Abrahams Centre, is getting as many kids out on the water as can be achieved. ‘The young ones have too many choices, too many sports to do and so commitment is hard for them. We have more junior girls than boys currently, which is great. There is not as much time as when I was young, first getting about in dinghies. Boating is getting expensive, but the cadet fleets opens it all up for those who need it to be affordable. Club boats to keep more people actively sailing.

'The Olympics are absolutely great, but that is more than one in 100, so we need to offer other sailing opportunities - the promotion of sailing for sailing's sake, if you will. There’s got to be some competition, but at the intermediate level.

This is how we’ll keep people in it, ensure it stays vibrant and a supply of people ready to crew.’ It certainly makes sense to have figureheads like Lou there for everyone to come in behind him and do what they want to do with the sport, and after 40 years I still think he is the greatest and most considerate gentleman on the water. I very much appreciate all that he has done.

Finally then, in 2002 Lou was presented with the Commonwealth Medal for Services to Sailing. He completed his last Sydney Hobart Race back in 2006, the year he received a Services to Yachting award. Whilst the octogenarian’s body may now be frailer than he’d like, his mind is not and his sense of humour is as omnipresent as ever. Lou was always known as a quietly spoken man and this is even more so today, but as a measure of the level of goodness contained in him, people have flocked to him over the years. His crew has stayed together for a long time too (they reckon they’re up for long service leave) and everyone is heard to say, ‘Ah yes, Lou. What a guy!’ So cheers to you, Lou. May your good and gracious nature keep us all inspired.

Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race Presentations - (L-R) Ian Murray - Chairman of the Regatta, Rob Hanna’s skipper of Shogun, Winner of the Henri Lloyd Passage Race Monohull Line Honours and Lou Abrahams Trophy IRC Division and RGYC Commodore Andrew Neilson. - Festival of Sails 2012, Royal Geelong Yacht Club -  Teri Dodds- Festival of Sails ©  

Lou Abrahams’ Challenge, with Lou in the pushpit. - Melbourne to Geelong -  John Curnow ©  

Lou Abrahams still a familar site on the Sydney 38 Challenge sternquarter - Audi Victoria Week 2011 Tuesday -  Sail-World.com -AUS ©   Click Here to view large photo

shot of the State Title winners with the historic Lady Nelson Trophy; pictured left to right Lou Abrahams (Challenge), Kate Mitchell (Goldfinger), (Alex Gilbert (Surprise) David Ellis (Penfold Audi) and Peter Blake (Goldfinger) on right. SYC’s Club Marine Centenary Regatta and State Keelboat Titles -  Alex McKinnon ©  

Audacious, Lou Abrahams’ Challenge and XLR8. - ORCV Winter Series -  Alex McKinnon  

Lou Abrahams and the crew of Challenge got to the top mark first in Division One. - Club Marine Series -  John Curnow ©   Click Here to view large photo

The Doyen, Lou Abrahams, presented the prizes from Day One. - pigen 2010/11 International Cadet National Championships -  Chris Furey   Click Here to view large photo

The Doyen, Lou Abrahams, was out on his Challenge for today’s racing. - ORCV Winter Series -  Alex McKinnon   Click Here to view large photo


by John Curnow


  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=102041

5:01 PM Fri 14 Sep 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World

Volvo Ocean Race: Blogs from the Boats - Leg 1, Day 9 plus Videos *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.nz/com
Several of the On Board Reporters aboard, provide their unique views of Leg 1, Day 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race - in text, images and video. ... [more]  

The first eight days of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race have been filled with more excitement and tighter racing than anyone could have anticipated. Up until Saturday morning, Leg One has left the fleet with few tactical options and therefore has kept everyone tightly packed as one unit of seven boats. ... [more]  

The team at The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta are very happy to announce that entries are now open for the 2015 Regatta, taking place March 5 - 8. The team hopes to see lots of return entries as well as new ones this year, all coming to celebrate the event's 35th year. In order to celebrate this milestone year, there will be some new features this coming season. ... [more]  

After three complete days at sea only three boats competing in the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race have passed the northwest tip of Sicily, roughly the halfway point of the race. The prevailing wind remains weak, but is expected to strengthen this afternoon coinciding with the arrival of bulk of the fleet t the Egadi Islands. ... [more]  

Last week the Volvo Ocean Race was all about VMG downwind sailing, with Dongfeng being the star performer. After DFRT took the lead, they shortly lost it again 36 hours later after hitting something in the water and losing their rudder. Two hours later they were up and running again with the spare in. Impressive stuff. ... [more]  

Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Fight to the finish by Media Royal Malta Yacht Club
Igor Simicic's maxi, Esimit Europa 2 is expected to finish the Rolex Middle Sea Race in the early hours of tomorrow morning. However the 100ft carbon fibre canting keel Maxi is under serious pressure to secure their fourth Line Honours victory in the race. ... [more]  

Italy won two races (windward-leeward race (ninth race) and coastal race (11th race), Switzerland won the second race of the day (10th race) and Ireland the last one (12th race). A lot of tactics was required to make best use of the little wind. The first race (windward-leeward race, 0,8nm) started at four knots. A second start under black flag happened. ... [more]  

PredictWind have made significant improvements to the swell forecasting models and added new locations. Integrating the new 50km global wind forecast with ocean current data has created the most advanced swell modelling available online. By combining PredictWind forecast data with ocean current data, the effect of the wind on swells can be accounted for ... [more]  

The battle continues for the lead in the Volvo Ocean Race, with the front running being taken up by different competitors on a regular basis. With the first boats about to enter the Doldrums, anything can happen - with the outcome being decided by navigational skill and experience, rather than being resolved on a computer. ... [more]  

The Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup, now in its 12th year, is known around the world as an international championship of junior champions. It runs parallel to the penultimate event on the World Match Racing Tour, the Argo Group Gold Cup. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Fleet charges the door of the Doldrums Casino *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
The Volvo Ocean Race has lifted intensity again on Day 9 with the fleet spread across 100nm of ocean and charging in a line for the turning point of Fernando de Noronha, 220nm off the Brazilian coast. ... [more]  

As expected the third day of the 2014 La Torche PWA Grand Slam proved to be a quiet affair with very light winds throughout the day. After a chilly and overcast start, the sun eventually broke through to produce another beautiful afternoon in La Torche. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. The sun’s out. It’s warm – not too hot, but warm enough for just a tee shirt. Ian Walker is stood at the helm of his Emirati boat, generous Atlantic trade winds whistling past his ears. 'We’re going straight through,' he claims, confidently. 'What Doldrums? - they’re going to say. Azzam isn’t even going to slow down.' ... [more]  

At 1700 CET in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, 113 yachts had rounded Stromboli, the active volcano that marks the most northerly point of the course. Race leader on the water, Esimit Europa 2, was less than 20 miles from Favignana and preparing to turn south with 289 miles to go and is expected to finish the race in the early hours of Wednesday 22 October, which would be well outside the course record ... [more]  

It is with great pleasure that the Star Sailors League announces that two more top Brazilian sailors will be joining the fleet of 20 super-champions taking part in the Star Sailors League Finals 2014 being held for the second consecutive year at Nassau Yacht Club in the Bahamas between December 1st and 7th. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, Day Nine onboard Team Alvimedica. It’s hard to explain the complexity of the weather in this part of the world. No computer model or forecaster can accurately predict the winds because the air here is dry and warm, 23c now, and the typical barometric pressure gradients that generate them become very weak. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, Day Nine onboard Team SCA. We’re a boat on a mission: catch the fleet. And they’re getting closer by the mile. The first time I sailed past Cape Verde islands was in 2010 when I was helping deliver a catamaran from Gibraltar to Antigua, W.I. ... [more]  

Thailand bids for 2016 IODA ‘Optimist’ World Championships by Jordan Rumsby, Royal Varuna Yacht Club
Pattaya's Royal Varuna Yacht Club has submitted a bid to host the 2016 International Optimist Dinghy Association World Championships, offering the world's most talented junior sailing teams a chance to experience the steady wind, sunshine, smiles, great food, and family-friendly attractions of Thailand's top dinghy sailing destination ... [more]  

Photographer Ellen Hoke was on the water at the Farr 40 Worlds sailed from the St Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, and provided this second gallery of images from the Final Day - Day 4 Prizegiving ... [more]  

Bill Green - builder and sailor passes on by Malcolm McKeag, Scuttlebutt Europe, Lymington, England:
Bill Green, San Francisco-born sailor, Navy jet jockey (not a lot of people know that); US Coastguard; shrimp-boat hand (not a lot of people know that either); One Ton Cup winner and most latterly proprietor of Green Marine slipped quietly away from this life ... [more]  

Tom Burton (AUS) retained World #1 in the Laser after a tremendous fight back at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao where he picked up bronze. The Australia had a tough opening day, finishing down the pack in both races but as the week progressed he worked his way up and sealed bronze on the final day to keep hold of World #1. ... [more]  

Photographer Ellen Hoke was on the water at the Farr 40 Worlds sailed from the St Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, and provided this gallery of images from the Final Day - Day 4 ... [more]  

Photographer Ellen Hoke was on the water at the Farr 40 Worlds sailed from the St Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 ... [more]  

Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - A hard day's night by Media Royal Malta Yacht Club
Rolex Middle Sea Race - As high pressure moved in from the north, the area around Stromboli had virtually no gradient wind and for those yachts yet to reach Stromboli, a south flowing current has slowed proceedings even further. For the competitive offshore yacht racer, performing well in light wind is more difficult than blasting through a storm at top speed. ... [more]  

34th Student Yachting World Cup - France knew today its best day since the beginning of the competition. They spent the two races at the very first positions, even rivaling with the ultra-dominant English team. They showed today an astounding panache, and can now hope to improve their ranking before the end of the SYWoC. ... [more]  

The Chinese entry Donfeng Race Team, has lost her lead on Day 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race, with boats on the east and western side of the course threatening. Two hours before the most recent sked at 0640hrs UTC, Dongfeng was still being listed by Volvo Ocean Race as the leader. But Team Brunel is now listed as the leader, but on a time taken projection basis, Team Brunel is fifth. ... [more]  

Flying Dreams is a movie directed by the talented Elsa Blayau is an ode to ocean, water sports and femininity. Based on an original idea from Alex Udin, Elsa Blayau transformed the project to a complete story and brought it to reality with this realization. ... [more]  

The 70th running of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is living up to expectation with 98 high-calibre entries received so far, from Sean Langman’s 1932 built Maluka of Kermandie, the oldest and smallest boat at nine metres, to the super maxis. The most talked about boat though, is the Verdier Yacht Design and Vplp 100 footer, Comanche. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Blogs from the Boats - Leg 1, Day 8 plus Videos *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.nz/com
Several of the On Board Reporters aboard, provide their unique views of Leg 1, Day 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race - in text, images and video. Catch a birthday at sea on board Team Brunel, and unravel the fishing net with Team SCA Hear and see how the crews coped with the front that came through in the nigh ... [more]  

Shala Youngerman and her team from Southwestern Yacht Club won the 23rd annual Linda Elias Memorial Women’s One-Design Challenge Sunday in this two-day fleet race regatta organized and sponsored by the Long Beach/Los Angeles Women’s Sailing Association and hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club. ... [more]  

After three days of racing in the Valparaíso bay, the Santander team was crowned champion of the Off Valparaíso Race, first stage of the Soto 40 South American Tour that was held in the Yacht Club de Chile with the participation of eight boats. ... [more]  

Day two of the La Torche PWA Grand Slam saw the glorious golden sunshine continue together with the waves, but unfortunately the wind remained absent again. To keep the crowds entertained Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde) and birthday boy - Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde) - attempted a bit of wave tow-in with varying degrees of success, as Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) took control of the jet ski. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Dongfeng consolidates lead on Day 8 *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz
After cutting between the Cape Verde islands, separating from the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, Chinese entry, Dongfeng gained an initial significant lead, which they are in the process of consolidating. One routing option for the then race leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, gave the team the option of cutting inside the island group, they are close to the optimum course for Fernando off Brazil ... [more]  

RS:X Youth World Championships - All set for Clearwater action
Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Slow road north
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Dongfeng Race Team - A risky call
Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Escaping the shroud of Mount Etna
Farr 40 Worlds: Day 4 Image and Video gallery *Feature
Australian 18 Footers League’s Major A. Frizelle Trophy
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Leader gambles on Island windshadow
2014 Sailing World Cup Qingdao - Final day video highlights
2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship - Plenty of time
Coast Guard rescues two near Wachapreague
2014 Off Valparaíso Race - Day 2
La Torche PWA Grand Slam - Massive swell on day 1
Volvo Ocean Race: Welcome to Al's Ocean Cafe
Argo Group Gold Cup survives Hurricane Gonzalo
Volvo Ocean Race: Dongfeng regains lead after incident packed Day 7 *Feature
Volvo Ocean Race: Dramatic video of Dongfeng rudder replacement
Volvo Ocean Race - Team Alvimedica bounces back
Volvo Ocean Race - Team SCA expecting the expected + Video
Rolex Middle Sea Race - New record for Mediterranean classic
ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao - Medallists decided across six fleets
Volvo Ocean Race - Impressive turnaround for Dongfeng Race Team +Video   
Volvo Ocean Race: Race closer than leaderboard suggests - Leg 1, Day 6   
Volvo Ocean Race: Dongfeng Race Team break rudder after collision   
2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship - Famous breeze frustrates   
2014 Off Valparaíso Race - Day 1   
Sunfish World Championship - Victory for Argentina's Francisco Renna   
Volvo Ocean Race - Feeling the pressure six days in   
Volvo Ocean Race - Alvimedica cautiously cruising down coast of Africa   
Volvo Ocean Race - Team Brunel still within striking distance   
Volvo Ocean Race - Testing times for Team SCA + Video   
Beijing 2008 Olympic legacy lives on in Qingdao + Video   
La Torche PWA Grand Slam - A return nearly 20 years in the making   
ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao - Game on for remaining fleets   
Farr 40 Worlds: Day 2 Image and Video gallery *Feature   
Day 5 of the Chris Benz Lüderitz Speed Challenge: 4 more records!   
Volvo Ocean Race: Coastal racing at its best - Leg 1, Day 5   
Chris Poole new number one Open Match Racer in U.S.   
Rolex Farr 40 World Champs - Plenty leads as Struntje Light impresses   
2014 Soto 40 South American Tour - Back in action   
Volvo Ocean Race - Mail arrival brings excitement for Team SCA + Video   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT