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Ocean racers sweep into Metung

by Jeanette Severs 22 Feb 2023 06:12 PST

They've sailed the Sydney to Hobart race multiple times along with a host of other ocean races on the Kialoa series of yachts. Now those sailing crews are visiting Metung, on the Gippsland Lakes, this week.

Some were fresh from the Hobart Wooden Boat Festival, and sailed Van Diemen - another ocean racing yacht - from Tasmania to tie up at the wharf in Metung. Another couple cruised Riversong in through Lakes Entrance and berthed at Metung.

The crews hold a bi-annual gathering and this is the first time it's occurred in Australia and the second time in the southern hemisphere - it has been held in New Zealand.

Among the ocean racing experience of crew members is listed the Fastnet Race, the Southern Ocean Racing Conference, the Admiral's Cup, the America's Cup, the 635-mil Newport to Bermuda sailing race, Hamilton Island Race Week, and Transatlantic crossings. Some were skippers and professional captains. Christy Donnelly, from San Diego, was a navigator on Kialoa III.

Along with the Kialoa series of yachts, various crew have also raced on Phantom, Condor, Blackfin, Ondine, Bumblebee IV, Bondi Tram, Crusade, Ballyhoo, Gretel II and Windwood Passage.

The crews' reunion down under is due to the tenacity of Steve and Wendy Bull, who both grew up in Metung and now divide their time between the lakeside village and Melbourne. The pair are well travelled, supporting Mr Bull's career racing yachts around the world.

Steve Bull was a crew member of Kialoa III and Kailoa IV, competing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in the 1970s. In 1975, he was a member of the crew that set a course record which stood for 21 years.

The late Jim Kilroy commissioned, owned and raced all the Kialoa yachts. The Kialoa is a Sparkman and Stephens design for a string of 78 foot long canoe maxi yachts that dominated ocean racing.

Steve Bull has also been on Kialoa as crew to race in the Fastnet Race around Fastnet Rock (in the United Kingdom), the San Francisco Big Boat Series (USA), the Southern Ocean Racing Conference which is a week of competition where many new yachts are tested in oceanic racing conditions, the Round the State race at Hawaii, the 635-mile Newport to Bermuda sailing race, and Hamilton Island Race Week.

Other crew members have added the America's Cup, Admiral's Cup and Antigua Sailing Regatta to their trophy lists (see captions for some of their citations).

Many of the crew, like Mr Bull, are employed in the industry, as sail makers, yacht designers, engineers, timber craftsmen, yacht manufacturers, in marine brokerage and as skippers.

Van Diemen has also raced at Hamilton Island Race Week, the Newport Bermuda Race, Fastnet Race and Sydney to Hobart Race.

As well as sailing, about 30 members of the Kialoa crew fraternity joined members of the Metung Yacht Club for dinner on last Friday evening (see photos).

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