The 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be started on Boxing Day, 26 December 2004 by Ray RICHMOND, the sole surviving crewmember of Rani, winner of the inaugural race in 1945.
Now aged 85 and living in retirement at Bowral in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Richmond was a young Royal Navy Lieutenant (E) stationed in Sydney when Captain John ILLINGWORTH RN seconded him to help prepare Rani at Garden Island, and then sail in the race.
Capt Illingworth had raced extensively offshore in the UK before World War II and it was he who convinced the fledgling Cruising Yacht Club to turn a proposed Christmas cruise to Hobart into a race - and then won it!
Mr Richmond can recall in great detail the race preparations and the subsequent battle through gales and calms in the Tasman Sea to take line and handicap honours in the nine-boat fleet.
Mr Richmond will fire the Starting Signal cannon while two other surviving veterans of the first race will also be part of the starting team - Geoff RUGGLES who sailed on Wayfarer and John GORDON who crewed aboard Winston Churchill - firing the cannons for the Warning and Preparatory Signal.
Peter LUKE, a founder and life member of the CYCA, who skippered Wayfarer (which he still owns) in the 1945 race, was the Official Starter of the 2001 Sydney Hobart.