South Australian yachtsman Kevan Pearce, owner/skipper of the 2000 Sydney Hobart Race winning yacht, SAP Ausmaid, has been named Australian Ocean Racer of the Year at a presentation at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Kevan is the first South Australian to be named Ocean Racer of the Year, joining a prestigious line-up of many of Australia's most successful ocean racing yachtsmen over the past two decades.
A member of the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia, he became only the third yachtsman from Adelaide to win the Sydney Hobart in the 56 year history of the event when he skippered SAP Ausmaid, a Farr 47, to Overall first place in the 2000 event.
The previous South Australian winners of the Sydney Hobart were Nerida in 1950 and Ingrid in 1952.
However, his success during the past season has extended beyond winning the 2000 Telstra Sydney Hobart, with SAP Ausmaid also taking line honours in this year's Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race, South Australia's premier offshore race, and winning the CYCA's prestigious Blue Water Championship for the 2000-2001 summer ocean racing season.
Kevan received the Ocean Racer of the Year trophy before a cheering crowd of sailors back at the CYCA following the final races in the Southern Cross Cup/British Trophy Regatta off Sydney Heads.
In this event, Kevan has been skippering SAP Ausmaid as a member of the Royal Prince Alfred Club team in the Southern Cross Cup and as an individual competitor in the IMS division of the British Trophy.
"Our aim is to sail SAP Ausmaid to her third victory in the Sydney Hobart Race, a feat achieved only once so far in the 57 year history of the event, by the Halvorsen brothers with Freya in the 1960s," Pearce said after accepting the Ocean Racer of the Year Trophy.
"We will then contest the Sailing South Race Week in Hobart in January before sailing the boat back to Adelaide to contest the Australian Offshore Keelboat Championship there in late February, followed by the 2002 Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race."
The Ocean Racing Veteran of the Year is John Bennetto from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the septagenarian owner/skipper of Mirrabooka who this year is competing in his 51st Sydney Hobart Race, a personal record for the blue water classic.
John is currently sailing Mirrabooka, a Frers 52, north to Sydney and missed the presentation - the second time he has been named Veteran Ocean Racer of the Year.
The Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year is CYCA member Terry Mullens, sailing in only his second ocean racing season as the owner/skipper of the Farr 50, Sting, he bought after a successful ocean racing debut in winning the CYCA's Ocean Pointscore with his previous boat, Sting.
So far this season, Terry has skippered Sting to an IMS division second in the Gold Coast Race, a third in the IMS Australian championship at Hamilton Island, and first in the recent JPMorgan Regatta.
The Ocean Racing Crew Person of the Year is Michael Bencsik, another CYCA member who has overcome a significant physical disability to continue ocean racing as a member of the crew of AFR Midnight Rambler, winner of the 1998 Sydney Hobart and an IMS division winner of the Hobart Race in 2000.