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Melbourne – Hobart Yacht Race 50th anniversary

A very important part of ORCV is the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race ‘West Coaster’. As we start our preparations for the 50th Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race anniversary in 2022, we thought it important to share some history of the race and importantly the background of the amazing people behind the first race held in 1971.

For this month’s newsletter, we share some background on Sir Donald Trescowthick Co-Founder and Chairman of Melbourne to Hobart Committee from 1971-88.

It was in 1971 that Sir Donald received a visit from an old friend Peter Riddle who informed him of his plans and those of Stan Gibson (Commodore of ORCV) to commence a race to Hobart down the west coast and the need to find someone to finance and Chair the “Melbourne to Hobart Blue Water Classic Race’ committee.

Living in Melbourne his whole life, Sir Donald had a great affection for the place. Thinking carefully before making a decision, Sir Donald found that there many Melbourne yachtsmen who found it difficult to allocate the time required to sail to Sydney and then sail competitively in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Not wanting to be involved in a competing event to Sydney because of a long association with the Olympic President John Coates Sir Donald was relieved to know that the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race was to be viewed as a ‘PURE MELBOURNE’ and not being formed as competition….in the beginning anyway!

Sir Donald was on board and preparations commenced and piece by piece they put the race together. One of the toughest challenges was getting the ORCV committee on board! They budgeted best they could, but it was critical to sign up a sponsor. Sir Donald raised the funds and the race was run and for the next 17 years, Sir Donald chaired the Melbourne to Hobart Race Committee and generated over $2 MIL in funds.

With a partner, Sir Donald built a Stevenson designed yacht “KINKOS’ and won the inaugural first through the heads trophy.

It was with great honour that our current ORCV Commodore Grant Dunoon visited Sir Donald recently and discussed some of the history of the race and invited Sir Donald to be an Ambassador of the 50th ‘Melbourne to Hobart” and attend some of the planned celebratory events.


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