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3 April 2004, 08:59 pm
Oldest Skipper Cleans Up On Handicap
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Sydney Mooloolaba Race

His wife wants him to retire from ocean racing, but given he's just cleaned up on IRC and IMS in the FKP Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race that finished early this morning, 81-year-old John WALKER is not about to leave the sport in a hurry.
A 20-time Sydney Hobart and Sydney Mooloolaba Race veteran, John only began ocean racing at 60, "when most people give it up", on the Peterson three quarter tonner Impeccable, he built in 1980.

John knew the forecast for this year's FKP Sydney Mooloolaba Race, which began from Sydney Harbour on Wednesday, was always going to suit the smaller, heavier boats.

"It was going to be a small boat race," he said this morning from his boat.

When asked whether he ever thought he would achieve this extraordinary result he responded: "Going into a race, you always think you are in with a chance, otherwise you wouldn't do it.

"We had our light patches, just like everybody else, but they didn't last long. We just picked up the lifts and the currents and sailed the boat well. This result is not my doing or the boat's doing, it is because of my crew."

John was born in Czechoslovakia and moved to Australian in 1949. He started his own timber business in Sydney, which he still runs, and as well as sailing most weekends, he is a keen skier who enjoys the European winter.

The last boat in the 38-boat fleet, following the retirement of Brindabella and Getaway Sailing, Phil Darling's eXpresso, finished the 469 nautical mile race this morning at 3.02am, allowing final results to be posted and the official prizegiving to be held today at Mooloolaba Yacht Club at midday.

On IMS Overall handicap, Impeccable placed first ahead of the Beneteau 47.7 Antipodes (Greg NEWTON) and the Sydney 38 Team Lexus (Rupert HENRY).

On IRC Overall handicap, Impeccable has beaten the Bavaria 38 Game Set (Tony KIRBY) and last year's Overall winner, Anthony PATERSON'S Mumm 30 from Lake Macquarie, Tow Truck.

In the PHS divisional results, another 1980-built boat, Geoff SMITH'S Adams 13 Kickatinalong has pipped the similar vintage boat Witchdoctor (The Rum Consortium), a legend in Australian offshore racing, and Michael BELAKHOV'S Sydney 36 Sea Change.

In the Sydney 38 division, Gordon Ketelbey's WADADLI has beaten the rest of the one design field, relegating Steven PROUD'S Swish and Graham GIBSON'S Hidden Agenda to second and third respectively.

Full results and photos are available on the event website at the address below.
Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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