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Famous golden oldie scores division win at Airlie Beach Race Week

by Di Pearson / ABRW media 12 Aug 20:35 PDT 6-13 August 2020
Ragamuffin 111 (with Qantas logo) won Race 5 - Airlie Beach Race Week © Shirley Wodson

Stuart Tivey and his partner Lisa Sampson were thrilled to win Race 5 in Cruising Division 1 at the Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) 2020 Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing yesterday with their famous German Frers 48, Ragamuffin 111, built in 1975.

Ragamuffin, whose crew includes Tivey and Sampson's teenage son Fletcher, won Race 5 from Noel Hardy's Hick 39, Envy. Daniel Farmer's B52, a Sydney 41, completed the trio and there was not much in it, less than two minutes separated the three. The timing was good, as today is a final opportunity for all in the 64-boat fleet to share in the spoils.

"We had a really good day," Sampson said. "The boat's quite heavy, so the conditions are not ideal - being so light here, she said of the 1975 German Frers design which was built to the old IOR rule.

"Twice we haven't finished this week because the boat is so heavy. We've had to work out backsides off to keep the boat moving."

Tivey and Sampson found this yacht, originally commissioned by Syd Fischer to campaign for the Admiral's Cup in Cowes and for the Sydney Hobart, sinking in Port Douglas in Northern Queensland.

"We couldn't see that happen, so we took her on and did her up. Now she's decked out as a racing/cruiser, she's beautiful," Sampson explained.

The yacht was the famous Fischer's third Ragamuffin, which he finished third and second overall respectively in the 1976 and 1977 Sydney Hobarts. Other famous names such as Sir James Hardy, Hugh Treharne (won the America's Cup in 1983) and Ian 'Mr Clean Up Australia' Kiernan, crewed this yacht for Fischer.

Fischer sold Ragamuffin 111 and she finished third overall in the 1978 Sydney Hobart did not do so well in her next six Hobarts under various owners.

These days, Ragamuffin 111 is being treated like a retired race horse. Not have her owners completely restored the yacht, they have made her a luxury cruiser, used in their 'Big Mama Sailing' company as sailing tour operating business based in Townsville.

"Considering the circumstances, our business is doing really well," Sampson said, referring to the CoronaVirus.

"We want to support all events and we're proud to be here at this great event," which was made possible by our sponsors Townsville Slipways and Boat Sales and Gracie Signs in Townsville.

"We were looking forward to sailing here in Airlie Beach and appreciate all the hard word they have put in."

Sampson went on to reflect the view of so many others during these strange times: "We have more balance in our lives since the virus. We had been working so hard. Doing Race Week has given us time to spend with friends having a good time - so Covid has its positives. Ideally, we'll do some cruising again."

There are other famous Sydney Hobart names of yesteryear in the Cruising divisions include the maxi, Condor, in Division 1, and Star Ferry, a Marchi 39 racing in Division 2. She started life as Petrosina II before racing under the famous 'Star Ferry' name.

Yet to notch up a win, her owner, John Brand, says, "She still surprises. She's won at Hamilton Island a couple of times. "This is the first Hamo I've missed in 13 years, because it was cancelled. We're missing Magnetic Island for the same reason."

"I think we're all very lucky to have Airlie Beach Race Week. It's been light on for wind, but the regatta is being very well run. The restaurants are open, so you can go and have a feed."

Brand says of Star Ferry, "She's getting a little older; but fairing a lot better than her crew! Most of us are in our sixties and we're managing to enjoy ourselves. We're staying away from most people in Airlie; I have kept it pretty quiet with the virus situation.

It will surprise none that a light 5-8 knots has been forecast for today's final race.

Race Director, Ross Chisholm, announced this morning that the AP flag would be displayed ashore at 8.20am. It could be a replica of yesterday when crews had to wait until 1pm to start their race.

IRC Passage Rating, Performance Racing and Multihull Racing will be on a 15 nautical mile Pioneer Bay Race similar to yesterday's, with the remaining divisions doing a shorter version of 11 nautical miles. Once again, spectators on the water and ashore will be able to take in a colourful spectacle.

Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing is the region's premier sporting and community event.

For full results and all information please visit

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