Home Grown Sailing Legend, Peter Hollis, Returns to the historical Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta (SCOR 2016)

October 10, 2016

Peter Hollis, renowned Australian sailor, awarded the prestigious ‘Australian Yachtsman of the Year’ in 1973/74 will be returning to compete in this years’ Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta (SCOR) being held from Oct 13th to 15th on our beautiful ocean racing waters off Mooloolaba.

 

Peter’s" Heaven Can Wait “departing Sydney Heads in 6th position" bound for Hobart” & leading the fleet on IRC Handicap.

Peter received the Australian Yachtsman of the Year as the first Australian yachtsman to win a world title in international waters, in Holland in 1972 in the International Contender one man trapeze class (designed by Ben Lexen) then successfully defend that world title in International waters in Italy in1973, and for services to yachting, Yachting Australia (AYF) Executive Member of the Racing Rules committee, Executive member of Yachting Queensland (QYA), chairman YA/QYA, Racing Rules committee, Organizing Committee international Contender Class world championship Brisbane 1974, and for services to junior yachting coaching.

 

" Kookaburra 11 " Americas Cup 1987 Perth

 

Peter’s last race out from Mooloolaba saw him win the International Etchels Class Australian Masters Championship in 2008 and the last SCOR series he entered was aboard the winning boat ‘Locomotion’ owned by his very close friend, the late Frank Hurd in 1977. ‘Loco’ as she is affectionately known, was born out of the frustration Frank felt in being runner-up the previous two years when Hugh Trehanne’s ‘Waikikamukau’ won the event. (Hugh later went on to bring home the America’s Cup for Australia as tactician aboard Australia II)

 

Peter recalls the beginnings of his very successful sailing career when ‘it all began for me at Picnic Point, Maroochydore in front of the family beach house that my dad built at the end of WW2. He also built my first boat, a17ft 6inch canvas kayak canoe (over timber framing) - I was 5 years old – and it was very long!  

 

We soon fitted it with a mast, wishbone sail and rudder with cords for steering. It would not tack, it would only gybe, so we added 2 lee boards over the sides at the tiny cockpit & then we could tack!

 

He (Jack Hollis) then built me the first Sabot in Queensland. It was an open boat, no buoyancy tanks, and had a timber mast. The sail was on brass track slides-we broke 6 timber chines trying to bend them, ultimately steaming them in a gutter down pipe sealed with heated water to soften and bend them into place. I remember the proud launching at Picnic Point with our family - I was so excited! The mainsail was huge and I was a small 8 year old. I went 20 yards off the beach, was hit by my first gust of wind and promptly capsized. Nothing to do but swim her ashore, empty her out and off I went, never to capsize her again & sailed out of sight with my family in hot pursuit in the outboard dinghy.

 

I spent every day on the water sailing for 6 weeks each Christmas school holidays, moving into trainee dinghies (12 ft.) when aged 12 with RQYS (Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron) on the Brisbane and Maroochy Rivers and have rarely stopped sailing since.

 

Why do I love the Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta (SCOR)?  Firstly because it’s on my home turf and secondly, having sailed the world over, I have to say Mooloolaba is one of the best sailing courses / destinations in the world – being only 10 minutes to the course area, having great waters and breezes, mild to warm conditions, a fantastic shore line during day and night and it is a great area for families ashore – with beaches, clubs, shopping, dining, site seeing, attractions and a beautiful hinterland. Additionally the Sunshine Coast is very affordable and there is great friendliness and camaraderie ashore.

 Frank Hurd

Peter recalls his favorite SCOR memory to be clearly the 31 hour race with Frank and his sons Peter and Bill Hurd on ‘Locomotion’ to win the event overall on IOR open handicap , starting off Point Cartwright at 7 pm on the Friday night and not finishing until 2 am Sunday morning at the River Entrance! It was a long, exhilarating, at times scary, exhausting race. We finished only 2 hours behind the Admirals Cup 40 footers (2 ton). Frank was so proud as we pulled into the pile moorings at the club beside them and they were still on board tidying up! They could not believe little “Loco“ (26ft, ¼ ton) was so close! They said we “looked exhausted” (and we were buggered!) It was the culmination of a great Exhibition Week Long SCOR Regatta which finished with “The Long Race” with double points!

 

The coveted and historical Frank Hurd Memorial Trophy is awarded at SCOR each year to a recipient chosen by a panel of peers for ‘performance and character’ and will be awarded this year for the first time since 1999. When asked why Frank’s trophy is so important to him, Peters’ response is- ‘he taught me so much about organizing a yachting campaign. Professionally, as an engineer, he had a massive organization around him and yet he sought everyone's advice, listened to everyone, but was quickly able to detect the ‘bullshit’. He had a great sense of practicality and best choice / decision-making. If you gained / earned his trust and respect, he’d stick like glue with you through thick and thin, and through the scary sailing moments when you were pushing the boat to its limits and following your own gut feel of where that limit was! He loved seeing me getting the utmost performance out of the boat together with his 2 young sons Pete 18 and Bill 21 (at that time). Frank had survived major stomach cancer for 10 years. He was a very high achiever- if you were going to do something, there was only one way in Frank’s mind - you did it to your maximum best and with the best people! He wanted to do and achieve something in the sport his boys were enjoying, to give them that chance and have that memory with, and for them. A year later, it was sadly all over for Frank, but he achieved his goals in time. For that I was thankful, and grateful to be a part of it. We just clicked. He loved “taking on the big boys” in his beloved little creation / pocket rocket ‘Loco’, and winning!

 

The Frank Hurd Memorial Trophy was donated by Thiess Constructions, North Sails, Max Tunbridge, Tony Pearson, John Bates, Ken Down, Syd Nielsen, John Walker, Keith Free, Peter Smeeton, Peter Hollis and Ron Mullen. What could it be about a person that would bring so many together to honour him with this historical and coveted trophy?  Peter describes the donors as ‘a special mix of characters and people, and many Frank raced against and had his fair share of wins against. But he loved them being there and he earned their high respect for what he achieved and as a person who they genuinely liked, admired and enjoyed his company.’

 

Peter describes Franks as- ‘well he was a “one off gem “! Maybe a “Diamond in the Rough“ to many at first appearance and on meeting, but underestimate him at one’s own peril! Frank loved the company of his mates, loved throwing in questions just to gauge people's reactions, especially in the company of new acquaintances! They could be like lambs to the slaughter, if they did not know Frank. He was extremely sharp and very witty.  He sorted the chaff from the hay instantly. But he was also very generous offering help and genuine advice when needed and he cared about others. He loved good company and had a great sense of humour loving a good joke, and playing jokes! He appreciated dedication, intelligence and experience. He loved giving it a go, if it made good common sense to him. He did not mince his words if he thought someone was talking “crap!"

Frank Hurd

 

My funniest sailing experience occurred with Frank on ‘Loco’. She was so light and tender that whenever any one of the four crew went down below; her speed dropped half a knot. So I told Frank he’d have to find another way to navigate from on deck whilst hiked over the rail (it was 1977 before GPS tablets). This one day we raced and trained all day and then set off on a night trial run across Moreton bay on our own, out the NE Channel to Cape Moreton and Flinders reef (unlit) and returned as a lead up practice for the Australian 1/4 Ton Champs off Sydney. 

 

As sunset and dusk settled in, Frank went below to switch the navigation lights on returning looking very sheepish and said ‘will this do for navigating from over the rail’? He was wearing a miners light on his forehead, had a piece of plywood strung around his neck with a chart table clipped to with a pencil on a string and a hand bearing compass around his neck. He looked a sight and we all burst out laughing! He said "that's a yes then?” and pulled a yellow XXXX can out of his pocket and said "oh I have got this too!” And that's how he navigated the entire 120 miler overnight race off the Sydney coast and did it brilliantly!  

         

Whilst Peter claims his greatest achievement was being awarded the ‘Australian Yachtsman of the Year’ in 1973/74, he also cherishes winning the 1986 World 12 meter Americas Cup Class championship on Australia III, a heavy-weather Ben Lexcen designed successor to Australia II which won the series comfortably in Perth in very challenging conditions.  Peter also describes winning the right to defend the Americas Cup as part of the “Kookaburra " team as ‘pretty special’ too.

 

On his own boat ‘Heaven Can Wait’ Peter took line honours in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race in 2006 and enjoys recounting her spectacular start in the 2005 Sydney to Hobart yacht race which saw her the sixth yacht out of Sydney Heads, on the stern of the five 100 footers and then steering her for six hours at 24 / 25 knots across Bass St, arriving in Hobart after 635 miles at sea!

 

Peter’s" Heaven Can Wait “departing Sydney Heads in 6th position" bound for Hobart” & leading the fleet on IRC Handicap.

 

Next week at the Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta Peter will undoubtedly employ many of the skills and knowledge gained from his close and cherished friend, the late Frank Hurd, through which his legacy will live on.

 

 

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