Please select your home edition
Edition
Sailing Raceboats 2016/17 RS Aero 728x90

Emeritus Professor Peter Numa Joubert AM dies at 91

by Peter Campbell on 18 Jul 2015
Emeritus Professor Peter Numa Joubert AM Peter Campbell
Emeritus Professor Peter Numa Joubert AM, who died on 13 July 2015, aged 91, was a man of many remarkable skills and achievements, ranging from being a distinguished academic and noted authority on fluid mechanics to being the only ‘amateur’ to design a Sydney Hobart Yacht Race overall winner.

A member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1973, Prof Joubert designed Zeus II, a Currawong 31 which won the 1981 Sydney Hobart, as well as other yachts that won their divisions of the ocean classic. Zeus II is still racing, aged 37, although now restricted to competing on Sydney Harbour.

He will be remembered as a designer of ocean racing and cruising yachts but perhaps more significantly for his role in offshore yachting safety and in road safety, including the design and mandatory installation and use of car seat belts.

An active sailor from the time he grew up in Sydney, Prof Joubert competed in 27 Sydney Hobart races, mostly skippering yachts of his own design which he named after Australian birds, including the Currawong 31 and Brolga 35. More than a hundred yachts have been built to his designs.

In 1993 he was awarded the CYCA Commodore’s Medal for outstanding seamanship after his year rescued eight survivors from a yacht that foundered at night in a strong gale during the Sydney Hobart. Peter survived the Sydney Hobart storm of 1998, although his yacht capsized, but later righted itself.

He also received a medal in the Order of Australia in 1996 for his contribution on road and yacht safety and in 2009 was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for research the field of fluid mechanics, particularly in relation to submarine design and education.

While yacht design was more a sideline to his major research in mechanical engineering, he was a member of the Institute of Naval Architects and authored more than ten papers in the Journal of Ship Research. These included investigations of the forces caused by slamming impact on yacht hulls.

Peter and I had been friends for more than 35 years and as a sometime crewman on one of his Currawong 31s, Lollipop (fourth overall in the Sydney Hobart in 1977 and beaten only by three maxi yachts). We enjoyed many discussions on yacht design and construction and crew safety rules over the years.

Last year, then living in retirement in the Melbourne suburb of Kew, Peter sent me a copy of a book he had written about yet another chapter in his life – as a young RAAF fighter pilot on active duty in New Guinea during World War II.

It gave me a fascinating insight into his early years, including details of a flying accident that led into him into research on seat belts for road safety and also safety harnesses for yachtsmen racing offshore.

Before graduating to more advanced fighter aircraft, Peter was flying a Tiger Moth biplane when the aircraft flipped as it landed, leaving him hanging upside down in his pilot’s harness.

“I landed a fraction short and the plane slowly tipped over crunch,” he recalled. “I’m hanging in my straps with my head about a foot from the ground, and I would have poled my head into the ground. I would have been a quadriplegic.”

It was a powerful lesson in the life-saving value of a seatbelt; one he would never forget.

Unquestionably, Peter’s later research and passionate drive to have government’s introduce mandatory laws on seat belt that saved many Australians their lives in road accidents.

When the war ended, Peter benefitted from a training course that allowed him to finish his matriculation and then undertake engineering at Sydney University. His academic and research would lead him to becoming Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

He retired in 1989 but continued his work as Emeritius Professor at the University, including a study of separating flow about a submarine hull when engaging in a turning manoeuvre, and advising the Department of Defence and senior Naval officers on hull shapes for the RAN’s submarines.

When I last spoke to Peter, he invited me to join him for lunch at the Melbourne Club “next time you are in Melbourne.” Sadly, we never got together for that lunch.
Gul 2020 FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Footer

Related Articles

America's Cup Rialto: Defiant's 'glamour day'
After a batten failure, American Magic headed back out for a three hour plus sail on a 'glamour day' After losing an hour or so through gear failure, American Magic headed back out onto the Waitemata for a training session out on Course E - between Eastern Beach and Waiheke Island, otherwise known as "The Paddock".
Posted today at 10:21 am
How will they set the (dis) comfort cursor?
The challenges of trying to live and run a foiling IMOCA to the maximum After finishing second in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race Charlie Dalin pulled no punches when he described the challenges of trying to live and to operate to the maximum on board his foiler APIVIA.
Posted today at 8:24 am
World Sailing AGM to be held electronically
Plus nominations are open for election of Board of Directors World Sailing will hold its 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and General Assembly electronically, due to the global challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted on 5 Aug
Mirabaud Sailing Video of the Century jury named
Special edition will reward the best films from 2000 to today! Two women and four men make up the international jury of the Mirabaud Sailing Video of the Century: Ludovica Anti, Martina Orsini, Rob Peake, Gary Jobson, Nicolas Mirabaud and Rob Faris.
Posted on 5 Aug
Zhik appoints Plastimo as distributor
To expand trading in France, Belgium and the French domestic territories Zhik is proud to announce a collaboration with Plastimo, the prestigious marine industry safety manufacturer and equipment wholesaler, as their new distributor for France, Belgium and the French domestic territories.
Posted on 5 Aug
America's Cup: Arb Panel rules on CIC application
The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has ruled on the Stars + Stripes' application The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has rules against the application made to it by the US Challenger Stars + Stripes Team USA.
Posted on 5 Aug
SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2020 cancelled
SMIRW 2020 committee made difficult decision to cancel this year's regatta The SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) 2020 committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year's regatta, which was to be held from 27 August to 2 September.
Posted on 5 Aug
Turning plastic bottle caps into crab pot floats
Australia's Waterway Cleaning charity are at it again Australia's Waterway Cleaning charity are at it again. We never seem to stand still. Having gone through the 100 tonne barrier of marine debris removed from Australian waterways already in 2020, we have now launched our Crab Pot Float Fundraiser.
Posted on 4 Aug
Dragonfly & ICY in the groove for Race the Wight
smarttune and smartlink create a new common denominator Saturday 1st August 2020 saw one of the biggest races of the year in the UK, probably globally, with 133 boats competing in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's 'Race the Wight' in the most perfect conditions possible.
Posted on 4 Aug
Denmark SailGP Team: Episode 2
Focusing on resilience with grinder Martin Kirketerp The second episode of 'Inside the Denmark SailGP Team' focuses on resilience, and no one embodies this quality more than grinder Martin Kirketerp.
Posted on 4 Aug