Wednesday, 30 December 2009

RSHYR: Slice of history for Lion New Zealand crew

Lion New Zealand. skippered by Alistair Moore, near Cape Raoul. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.

by Lisa Ratcliff

Dave Dobbins’ unofficial New Zealand anthem ‘Slice of Heaven’ was playing loudly on the stereo and the huge black New Zealand flag was flying on the Whitbread maxi Lion New Zealand’s forestay as the crew celebrated their arrival in Hobart this morning, 25 years on from the boat’s Sydney Hobart line honours win.

The winning helmsman from 1984 was the late Sir Peter Blake and today his 26 year old daughter, Sarah-Jane, surveyed the Hobart waterfront as the large crowds enjoyed the summer sunshine and the spectacle of the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart finish.

“I did it to get to know Dad a little better,” said Sarah-Jane. When asked had the trip been emotional, she said “I’ve been busy and tired; when you stop and think about it, it can mess with your head.”

The 1984 Sydney Hobart was particularly rough while this year’s race has been fairly benign, apart from a couple of 30-35 knot squirts and rough seas that drenched the crew sitting on the rail.

Sam Cray, the 18 year old son of original crewmember Godfrey Cray reflected “we have a connection with what they did. They were the last of the Corinthian crew of that era who all volunteered and paid their own way. They were a bit like a travelling rugby team.”

Lion New Zealand’s modern day crew can identify with the Corinthian spirit, they have come under their own steam with support from skipper Alistair Moore and Blair Smeal and the Lion New Zealand Charitable Trust, which was established to preserve New Zealand’s unique maritime history by ensuring significant vessels remain in working order.

Cray was in awe of the boat’s arrival in Hobart in 40th place at 12:40pm today. “If anyone had said six months ago that I was going to do a Rolex Sydney Hobart I would have laughed.

“One spectator boat met us at the mouth of the Derwent River, then by the time we finished the fleet had built to 10. Back then [1984] the finish must have been amazing.”

The third offspring from the 1984 crew is Conrad Gundry, the 20 year old son of Simon Gundry. He described the welcome in Hobart this morning as “a fantastic reception”.

At the race finish, Bill Thomas, chef and camera operator, provided an extra special moment when he presented each of the 14 crew with an original crew supporter pin from the boat’s 1984 win.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

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