When we asked alumni about their sailing experience we were surprised how many of you have enjoyed sailing in boats large and small. Here are some of your replies.
My husband, Felix Huber, graduated in Medicine in 1951. Felix and I raced dinghies for many years, eventually graduating to yachts. We sailed the Mediterranean for nine years. When Felix was diagnosed with cancer we decided that we should retire earlier than we had planned, ship our boat, a 42' ketch called 'GALATEA IV', to the Mediterranean and sail for as long as we could. The prognosis was that we'd have 2 or 3 years. With numerous recurrences and treatment in London we had, in fact, much longer. We started in France, where Felix had a stroke on our first day at sea, spent two weeks in Montpellier Hospital, then spent almost 3 months living on the boat until he had learnt to walk again. Then we set off. We sailed along France, then Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, circumnavigated the Adriatic, spent weeks in Venice on board, then Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, back to Turkey. In all we spent Nine Summers sailing, and wintered in London. When Felix had a heart attack we decided to call it a day. Felix died in 1999. I kept my promise to Felix and dedicated a book in his memory. It is called NINE SUMMERS and was published in 2007. All the 10,000 copies have been sold but it is now on Google EBooks.
Rina Huber on behalf of Felix Huber
I am many years retired but kept sailing until a few years ago. I only did two Sydney to Hobarts. One, in 1985 on Pippen, as navigator. We finished about 30th. The other in 1986 and again finished about 30th.
This race was prestigious to the people who sailed in it! 1971-2 season - Mirror Class Sailing Association - Commodore’s Trophy. Our boat was called Bruin Too and I skippered it and sailed with my sons Bevan (MBBS 1987), Matthew (MBBS 1987) and Lachlan Brown (1989). We were first on points over five heats. The prize was a magnificent pair of salt and pepper shakers. I sailed various small boats before I took up Mirrors to teach the boys. In my early twenties I was a national champion of something called a “modified VJ”. The trophy was a tin of Red Hand varnish. The boys took turns at crewing with me in the early 70s. Bevan, now obs/gyn at The San has given up sailing. Matthew, now Prof. of Immunology and Cancer Research at the Diamantina Institute of the University of Queensland was, last year, state Heron Champion, sailing with his son Rory. Lachlan, GP at Batemans Bay sails a Spiral on Lake Burleigh Griffin with his daughter Imogen and after sailing his own 9.5 metre boat off-shore he now shares a similar boat with two others, winning the club championship for several years in both boats. Martin, our youngest (the non-medical member who makes more money than the rest put together) sails a Heron off Drummoyne with his son Callum, aged nine.
I did quite a bit of ocean racing in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. Longest was transpac from Victoria, British Columbia to Maui, Hawaiian Islands in about 1981 ( it took 19 days, we came fourth). Also multiple Swiftsure races from Vancouver to the Swiftsure light vessel. Boat was Passages, a 40 footer. I was scheduled to do the Hobart race in 1967 but left in mid-December to be a flying doctor in Zambia after my residency at RPAH. After that, went to the USA and stayed there. Dr Richard Benn did that race, as well as many others. The late Dr John Mathieson, an old friend who died sadly too young, was a noted ocean racer.
My name is Harrie Wood, I am a Radiologist and I sailed in the 1997 Sydney to Hobart on Waitangi 2, a Jarkan 10 sloop, as a crewman/assistant helmsman. We finished the race but well down the list as one of the smaller boats in the race.
I sailed the Sydney to Hobart in 1987 as owner and skipper of Sweet Lauraine , a S&S 36. We were in Division D and our handicap overall result was 8th. Dr Owen Miller, cardiologist, was foredeck hand. In 1988, same boat, overall result 41 Division D 10th. This time Michael Moont, general surgeon was in the crew as navigator.
Alan Davis (alumni) and I sailed on Sydney harbour for many years. No Ocean races. No spectacular results out of Middle Harbour Yacht Club in 2nd division and later 1st division but a lot of great times. Organised some informal races with other St Vincent's alumni with finishes at Store Beach. There are many alumni with similar experience at St Vincent's over the years.
Bernard (James) Biggs
I did 5 or 6 Sydney to Hobarts in my foolish youth - best result was a class 3 with first place in Streaker (in about 1970, I think). Have been committed to ocean voyaging ever since. Two years in the South Pacific in my first yacht Awatea, innumerable trips to Lord Howe Island, Tasmania and NZ in subsequent boats, a 4 month exploration of the subantarctic islands (Macquarie, Campbell, Auckland, Snares etc). My lovely boat is snug beneath winter snows on Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia) after a splendid cruise up the coast of Labrador last summer. New spring we are setting out for Greenland and Iceland, thence Norway and Scotland. For the moment, I pick up scraps of locum work in remote indigenous practice and that old watering hole - Alice Springs.
I was in the 2004 and 2006 Sydney Hobart races and have taken part in other long distance racing including a number of Sydney to Southport races 2003 and 2004 and a Gosford-Lord Howe Island race in 2007. In all races I was skipper on my own boat Dreamtime.
I have been sailing and racing on Sydney Harbour and Pittwater for the last 15 years and sailed in the 2003 Sydney to Hobart on Bright Morning Star. (ed - Peter Green tells us that Chris Bambach has sailed the Sydney to Hobart Race. )
I sailed in the Sydney Hobart in 1971 we came 42nd I was main sheet hand/ part time navigator. TAWARRI.
I sailed Victoire (a first Beneteau 45) in the Sydney to Hobart race in 2010, winning Division 2 IRC and Division 2 ORCI with a final place of 5th overall. For nearly two days, Victoire was leading the race on handicap. Unfortunately, with a drop in the wind and the slow trip up the Derwent, alleviated the anxiety of Secret Men’s Business and we were about an hour behind her lead. Congratulations to Secret Men’s Business who had been trying to win the race for 20 years! The boat has a very active campaign. I am the owner/skipper and driver and one of the two to three drivers on the boat. Also, the treasury!
I was four times World Champion in the Flying Dutchman class.
Dr Ian McCrossin, a Nowra dermatologist, has won the Flying Dutchman World Championship 4 times and numerous NSW and Australian championships. He was almost killed on the harbour a few weeks ago when his boat was cut in half by a ferry.
I am not sure if the Perth to Bali race qualifies as "prestigious"-nevertheless I sailed in same May 1991 on board STS Leeuwin, a 120ft steel hull barquentine as a crew member.
What about those of us who signed up over the years on square-riggers and crossed the North Atlantic in autumn/winter? Aloft on the yards in 40 knot gales at 0200 HRS, trying to not get swept to one's death while taking-in sail? Or those who navigated an original 1876-built, 1100 tonne, iron-hulled three-master from Sydney to Hobart, just for the heck of it? No glory, just sheer bloody hard work, to re-live our history and try and find-out how it was for our forebears. "She were a hard life, she were". Rugged individual survival skills have no time for prestige, I'm afraid. It's the former which separates the men from the boys!
We haven't done any prestigious sailing races, but my wife (Catherine) and I cruised for six months in Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece in 2009. If that's relevant, our blog site for that adventure is cooksailing.wordpress.com
My husband, son and I sailed in two Hobart races. One in our first yacht, a Bavaria 38, in 2004. This race ended in Eden with 50% of the fleet at the time. Our second race was in 2005 on our yacht Diomedea and we came 14th in PHS with an elapsed time of 4 days, 6 hours, 17min, 44 secs. It was a great buzz to sail into Hobart being cheered along by hundreds of people on a balmy night. In 2008 we took time out from medicine for a 6 months circle around the Pacific (NZ, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia) see our blog for details and pictures. After learning to hang on in Lasers and skiffs (Manly Graduates) in my thirties, then learning to sail a yacht, I am getting a bit wiser many thousand miles down the track. I suppose it is a little bit like medicine - you keep learning, some of the time there is some element of boredom and other times sheer terror!
I sailed the Sydney to Hobart Race, as foredeck hand, onboard Fidelis in 2006. A classic 62 foot sloop, owned by Nigel Stoke, Fidelis had won the Sydney to Hobart before in 1966. We were 52nd across the line out of a starting fleet of 78, with nine boats pulling out. It was tough by day four but it wasn’t a bad year for the Sydney to Hobart.
I have been racing yachts for many years but would not say that any outstanding talent other than taking the opportunity when it arises. I have raced in England from the Royal Dart and Weymouth Sailing Club (site of the upcoming Olympic Sailing courses), across to the Channel Islands for their sailing week in 1992 (Celavie X-Yacht 332), 1993 and again in 1997(Redskin Oyster Litewave 395).
I have sailed the Sydney to Hobart on 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005 on Aurora, a Farr 40, 1984 design. I have also raced Aurora in the Gosford to Lord Howe race in October 2006.I am always on the foredeck on all races.
As for race results? Perhaps you could check the result records for these years, I have poor recall and remember the experience rather than the line results.
I understand you are doing an article for “Radius” on SU Medical alumni involved in offshore sailing. While I can’t claim to have done any major offshore yacht races, I did skipper my 31 foot yacht Ghoster to 3rd place overall in the 2005 Port Hacking to Batemans Bay yacht race. Fellow SU medical alumnus Kevin Harmey (1987) was bowman. We hit 16 knots at times running down the coast under spinnaker with a big nor’easter at our quarter. Although the breeze dropped out later, we still finished the 120 nautical mile race in 16 hours. Later that year I joined my brother Prof Matthew Brown (1987) and sister in law A/Prof Emma Duncan (1990) in chartering a yacht for the prestigious Cowes Week Regatta. This Jeanneau 37 was entered in a division with 57 other identical craft. The finance industry was heavily represented. Many other boats had professional skippers. We called our boat “Banker Free Zone”. Matthew skippered, Emma was pitperson and I did mainsail trim. Our crew had not sailed together before and had limited knowledge of the tricky Solent waters but improved throughout the regatta to place 8th, including a 3rd place in the last race.
I was foredeck hand on Hyperdrive in the 1988 Sydney to Hobart. We were 17th across the line.
Unfortunately, I'm yet to complete a Sydney-to-Hobart - but am desperate to if you run into any contacts!! My most prestigious result to date is the 2005-2006 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race where, as a 4th year Sydney Uni Medical Student, I raced onboard Morna when we finished first in the PHS division. In terms of position on board - usually worked the foredeck but, seeing it was passage race on a 35 footer, everybody did everything in 4 hour shifts. I sailed for many seasons out of Manly Yacht Club on Sydney Harbour on a few boats - including my own (a little Endeavour 24 called Eclipse) and have competed in many inshore and offshore series.
My name is Paul Bonnitcha and I am a second year medical student. I have sailed for a number (23 or so) years, with my best achievement coming in 2002 with a 3rd at the World Sailing Titles (29er class, a 2 person skiff where I was crewing with my brother), the same year I was nominated for NSW sailor of the year. I started out sailing at the age of 5, (following some heavy persuasion from my mother as I was petrified of the sport). The boat I started in was called a sabot. I then progressed to sailing competitively at a national level in sabots until I was 14. Following this I sailed the flying eleven class of boat until I was 17, and then progressed to the 29er international class when 18 (Year 2000).
Medical Program – Year 2