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22 December 2002, 11:19 am
Big Saturday for Veteran Ocean Racer Syd Fischer
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Australian Ocean Racer of the Year Awards

Veteran Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race competitor Syd Fischer scored a major yachting double yesterday.
Sailing his Farr 50, Ragamuffin, to an overall victory in the British Trophy regatta he was then also awarded the prestigious Australian Ocean Racer of the Year award for his contribution to the sport.

The awards are traditionally made on the eve of the annual bluewater classic in which Fischer this year will be sailing for the 34th time. Conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Ocean Racer Awards this year were sponsored by Offshore Yachting magazine.

During the past season, Fischer, now aged 75, won his eighth Bluewater Championship, including placing third overall in the 57th Sydney Hobart Race.

Fischer also saw his "crew boss", Tony Ellis, named as the Ocean Racing Crewperson of the Year. Ellis has sailed in 35 Hobart Races, all but seven with Fischer.

Another "old salt" heading to Hobart on his 40th race next Thursday, 26 December, 75-year-old Victorian Lou Abrahams was named as Ocean Racing Veteran of the year. He will skipper his Sydney 38, Another Challenge, in the 630 nautical mile race.

For the first time, the Ocean Racer of the Year awards have given posthumous recognition to a yachtsman - Sydney yachtsman Ashley Reed who died at sea during the Sydney - Mooloolaba Race earlier this year.

Reed, the owner and co-skipper of the highly successful 40-footer, Shipping Central, was named Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year, nominated by his co-owner and fellow Cruising Yacht Club of Australia member, Michael Spies.

Reed achieved considerable success in his relatively short career as the owner/skipper of an ocean racing yacht - placing fourth overall and first in division in last year's Sydney Hobart Race, second in the Australian Offshore Championships at Hamilton Island, and first in the Bird Island and Lion Island -Botany Bay races.

His boat was in contention to win the CYCA's Blue Water Pointscore for the 2001-2002 season when he suffered a fatal heart attack in the final race of the series, the 2002 Sydney - Mooloolaba Race.
Peter Campbell/ISAF News Editor
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