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Royal Hobart Regatta Association. 1st Sydney - Hobart ocean yacht race 1945 - 1946 won by RANI Captain John Illingworth RN

Date: 1945
Overall: 120 x 310 mm, 0.86 kg
Medium: Wood, silver plaque, varnish
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Presentation bowl
Object No: 00038295
Place Manufactured:Tasmania
Related Place:Hobart, Sydney,

User Terms

    This wooden bowl was presented to Captain John Illingworth, skipper of the yacht RANI, by the Royal Hobart Regatta Association for winning the inaugural Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race in 1945. The bowl is made from a variety of Tasmanian timbers. It was a presentation piece to Illingworth, not the winner's trophy.
    SignificanceThis wooden bowl is an important memento of the first Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race which is now regarded as a classic of international blue water racing.
    HistoryThe Sydney- Hobart Yacht Race has become a classic annual sailing event in the Australian and the international sporting calendar. The course covers a distance of 1170 kilometers starting in Sydney Harbour and finishing on the Derwent River at Hobart, Tasmania. The inaugural race was held in 1945 with RANI being the first yacht to take out the competition in the time of six days, 14 hours and 22 minutes. Today the race attracts extensive media coverage and sponsorship of the vessels.

    RANI was a 35-foot double-ended yacht designed by Arthur Barber and built in Sydney. For the 1945 inaugural Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race RANI's skipper Captain John Illingworth commanded a crew of young Royal Navy officers and local amateur yachtsmen. RANI is the smallest yacht to ever win the race.

    The event began in an off-the-cuff fashion. In the latter part of World War II sailors on Sydney Harbour formed the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) to promote cruising and a casual races in lieu of those suspended during the war. At the end of the war three of the members Jack Earl, Peter Luke and Bert Walker planned a cruise to Hobart. One evening Commander John Illingworth gave a talk to members, and afterwards Peter Luke suggested Illingworth might like to join the cruise. Illingworth's reply was "I will, if you make a race of it". This sparked a reaction, as noted in the Australian Power Boat and Yachting Monthly of October 10, 1945.

    Yacht Race to Tasmania: It is expected that an Ocean Yacht Race may take place from Sydney to Hobart, probably starting on December 26, 1945. Yachtsmen desirous of competing should contact Vice President Mr P Luke….. Entries close December 1 1945.

    From these small beginnings the cruise became a race and Illingworth helped with the arrangements, showing the club how to measure the boats and handicap the event. On Boxing Day in 1945, nine yachts set forth including Illingworth in his recently purchased yacht RANI. He had previous experience of ocean racing from his homeland in England and in the USA, where he was a respected competitor. The other sailors had a more relaxed attitude.

    The first race in 1945 encapsulated a lot of things now associated with the event, and in hindsight was a warning of things to come. A strong southerly gale hit the fleet on the first day, and many were unprepared for the rough seas which scattered the fleet. Some boats hove to, one retired and the others sought shelter. WANDERER's crew went ashore twice, once to phone home and the other to enjoy a seafood meal before resuming the race. Meanwhile the experienced Illingworth continued to race. When the gale eased an aircraft was dispatched to look for the fleet, and RANI was so far ahead that it was not located and presumed missing. The press had the event as their headline article, and later the sudden reappearance of RANI off Tasman Island was a sensation. RANI won easily and the remaining seven boats gradually crossed the line in Hobart bringing more stories of the race ashore for the public to enjoy.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Royal Hobart Regatta Association. 1st Sydney - Hobart ocean yacht race 1945 - 1946 won by RANI Captain John Illingworth RN

    Web title: Award for the inaugural Sydney to Hobart yacht race in the yacht RANI

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