John WALKER, at 81 arguably the oldest regular ocean racing yachtsman in Australia, if not the world, today notched up his second major offshore victory this year when he skippered his 34-footer Impeccable to an IMS handicap victory.
Walker, a lively octogenarian who sails from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, stole a march on his 80-year-old rival Peter KURTS, skippering Love and War, over the final 50 nautical miles of the 414 nautical mile race across the northern Tasman Sea.
Impeccable, a Peterson 34, steadily improved her position last night and today as she and Love and War, a Sparkman & Stephens 46 from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, beat to windward towards the island in 15 knot north-easterly headwinds.
Although she finished almost three hours astern of the bigger Love and War, Impeccable still had a winning handicap advantage under the IMS handicap system
Race officials late this afternoon provisionally declared Impeccable the IMS winner by 52 minutes 45 seconds from Love and War, with third place going to the Sydney 38, Team Lexus, skippered by Rupert Henry.
Earlier this year, Walker skippered Impeccable to an overall win in the IMS division of the Sydney Mooloolaba Race.
Walker was born in Czechoslavakia and migrated to Australia in 1949. He still runs a timber business in Sydney and is an active snow skier as well as ocean racing yachting.
John WALKER and Peter KURTS next encounter will be in the 60th Anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with the Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race being a qualifying event for the Hobart Race.
For Kurts it will be his 31st race south, having had two overall wins in the ocean classic with Love and War.
For Walker it will be the 20th Hobart Race for both him and his boat, with past divisional wins and an overall third.
Provisional winner of the PHS division of the Lord Howe Island Race is Azzuro, a 14m Bruce CLARK Design skippered by Trevor COSH from the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club.
With two PHS division boats still to finish, Bright Morning Star (Hugh O'NEILL) also from the SASC, is in second place while the CYCA entrant, Kioni, a 14.5m Farr design skippered by Christopher Townshend, is in third position.
Still to finish at 5pm today were Berrimilla, Polaris of Belmont, Inner Circle, Delta Wing and Debonair, which should reach Lord Howe Island overnight.