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Westward to lead Opening Day of the Sailing Season on the River Derwent

by Peter Campbell 29 Sep 09:58 PDT 5 October 2019
Westward, the only Tasmanian yacht to win the Sydney Hobart twice. © Peter Campbell

The historic cutter Westward will lead next Saturday's Opening Day fleet on the River Derwent to mark the upcoming 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, joining Bellerive Yacht Club Commodore Graham Mansfield's Black Magic at the head of the expected fleet of more than 200 boats, ranging from kayaks to ocean racing yachts.

The following Monday, Westward will be moored at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the RYCT's launch of the 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. She may also be on station off Castray Esplanade for the finish of the Sydney Hobart Race.

Now part of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania's floating exhibits in Constitution Dock, Westward won the 1947 and 1948 Sydney Hobart Races as well as the inaugural Maria Island Race in 1947.

Originally owned by George Gibson, Westward was designed and built by the legendary Jock Muir who was sailing master in her ocean racing victories.

The Huon pine-built 42-footer is the only Tasmanian yacht to have twice won the Sydney Hobart Race, making her debut on the Derwent on Opening Day 1947, 72 years ago this month.

Queensland yachtsman Stan Field owned Westward for 55 years, cruising the Pacific, before he gifted her to the Museum. A crew of Museum members, headed by Captain Mike Webb, sailed her from Maryborough back to Hobart in 2010.

Saturday's Opening Day Parade of Sail will start at 2.00pm from off the Hobart Regatta Grounds, with the fleet proceeding under sail and/or motor into Sullivan's Cove where the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency The Honourable Professor Kate Warner AC, will take the salute from aboard the motor launch Egeria.

The fleet, usually 'dressed ship' with colourful pennants and ensigns, will then sail to a rendezvous for the traditional raft-up, signalled at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron and Bellerive Yacht Club according to the weather forecast for the afternoon.

The first race of the season, the RYCT's 20 nautical mile Channel Race, will be held the following day, Sunday, 6 October with the first Combined Clubs Summer Pennant race day the following Saturday, 12 October.

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