The Cruising Yacht of Australia today announced that the distinguished retired Royal Australian Navy officer, Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould AO RANR, is the Chairman of the Race Committee of the 2000 Telstra Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Glenn Bourke, SOCOG's Competition and Venue Manager for Sailing at the recent Sydney Olympic Games and Paralympics and now Chief Executive Officer of the CYCA, has also joined the Race Committee. Phil Thompson, the previous Race Director, has stood aside and will play no role in the management of the 56th Race, which starts from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day.
Admiral Oxenbould recently retired as Deputy Chief of the Navy after 37 years in the service, the last six as a Rear Admiral. His career included command of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet and the Australian Task Group during the Gulf War. At various times he was captain of the destroyer HMAS Perth and the frigate HMAS Canberra. Oxenbould is also an experienced ocean racing yachtsman with more than 40 years experience sailing off the southeast coast of Australia, and he has competed in 10 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races.
CYCA Vice Commodore Martin James announced the changes to the composition of the Race Committee after the release yesterday of the Findings and Recommendations by New South Wales Coroner, Mr John Abernathy, following his Inquest into the death of six yachtsmen in the storm swept 1998 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race. "Admiral Oxenbould has already played a significant role in the planning for the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race as an independent member of the Race Committee,"
Vice Commodore James said. "The appointment in October of Glenn Bourke as the CYCA's CEO brings additional planning and race management experience to the Club and its major event. Glenn, in his own right, is also a widely experienced and successful sailor. "He has twice been chosen to represent Australia at the Olympics, is a winner of three successive Laser World Championships, and has been tactician and helmsman in America's Cup and Admiral's Cup international yacht racing. In recent years, his successes include helming the winner of the 1998 Telstra Cup. "Both yachtsmen add further strength and experience to the Race Committee in the planning and conduct of the 2000 Telstra Sydney Hobart, supplementing the race management changes introduced by the CYCA since the release last year of its own Review Report into the 1998 event."
Vice Commodore James said the CYCA welcomed the release of the Coroner's Findings and Recommendations following the Inquest into the tragic death of the six yachtsmen during the 1998 race. "The report is extensive and contains many recommendations and comments that will require careful analysis, but they will be invaluable to the conduct of offshore yacht racing in Australia and overseas in the future," he added, "However, it will take the CYCA some time to give full consideration to the key recommendations and their implications for this year's race, and publish any changes to the Notice of Race.
"It is pleasing to see that a number of the key recommendations of the Coroner were, in fact, introduced by the CYCA for the 1999 race and refined for this year's event, and that the Coroner has noted in a positive way the CYCA's efforts to improve safety at sea" added Vice Commodore James. The changes already implemented by the CYCA include crew training and experience requirements, boat and crew safety regulations, the rules as to the quality of certain marine products, and race administration structure, including the setting up of a crisis management team comprising experienced sailors. "The CYCA's policy is to ensure that the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race will be organised and conducted to the highest standards of ocean race management and safety at sea," Vice Commodore James added.
Detailed information on the new safety regulations for the 2000 Sydney - Hobart race have also been released and can be found here.
A copy of the official Coroner's report and recommendations which is in commendably simple and easily understood language can be found here.