Paul WilsonWhat a great race the 2003 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was!

Skandia and Zana battled it out for the entire 628 Nautical miles, with owner/skipper Grant Warrington and his crew on board Skandia eventually taking out the line honours win by a mere 14 minutes over New Zealand based super maxi yacht Zana.

And congratulations and praise must go to the handicap winning crew of First National Real Estate skippered by the very colourful Michael Spies. I first met Michael many years ago when he was “the old man” of 18’ skiff skippers, sailing out of the Sydney Flying Squadron. He’s a good bloke and as this is his 27th Sydney to Hobart, extremely deserving of the major prize.

The 2003 race also delivered some of the most spectacular imagery I’ve ever seen. Take, for example, our amazing cover shot captured by regular Club Marine contributor Ian Mainsbridge. See more of Ian’s, as well as Richard Bennett’s work in our race wrap-up starting on page 16.

In fact, the only disappointing aspect of the 2003 race was a rather unfortunate and ill informed article written by Andrew Darby, a Hobart-based journalist employed by The Age to cover the race.

In the article, he quotes various yacht owners as being unable to get insurance cover for their yachts, or if they could get cover, the premiums were considered to be so exorbitant that they were left with no choice but to sail in the race without cover, or not race at all.

It is regrettable that Andrew obviously didn’t check the facts with the insurance industry, because if he had the highly emotive article he wrote would’ve taken on an entirely different complexion.

Club Marine offered race entrants a variety of covers ranging from third party only, to comprehensive excluding mast cover, up to full comprehensive which included mast cover. One-off type yachts were offered specific covers and charged a premium commensurate to their individual risk which was determined by, but not limited to factors such as, design, construction, age and rig type.

But overall the premiums charged were hardly excessive for a race and risk of this nature. Let’s face it the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race is without doubt the highest risk insurable sporting event in Australia, and this is why most insurance companies just aren’t interested in getting involved with it.

Andrew’s article insinuates that some yachts did the race without any insurance cover at all, as is indicated in the bold headline. This is nothing but a mischief as the CYCA (the race organisers) have a strict policy relevant to insurance which states that it is mandatory for every yacht entered in the race to have a minimum of $10 million liability cover, and be able to supply proof of such.

Therefore to spell it out, no insurance cover, no race entry, it’s as simple as that! So let’s now look at the facts.

56 boats started the race. Of those 56, Club Marine had insurance over 54 of them. So why did we do it? Because, quite simply, if we hadn’t there wouldn’t have been a Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race in 2003.

We’re certainly not looking for a pat on the back, just a bit of honest recognition and a fair go would suffice.

Maybe this year when Club Marine once again takes on the challenges associated with insuring the Hobart fleet, Andrew may consider giving us a call just to set the record straight.

On a much brighter note, we have just launched a new weather feature on our internet site. Giving a national coverage, you can now obtain an immediate major centre as well as regional forecast, also you can see live satellite, and radar images of the current situation in your state!

This is a very exciting development, and one we hope to build on with additional features in the near future. So go to www.clubmarine.com.au and click on the ‘Weather Report’ icon on the home page.

Also in this issue you will find a reader survey. It has been almost eight years since we last surveyed our readers, so we are well overdue to receive feedback on what you want to see and read about, as well as what your current and future buying plans may be.

Surveys such as this are vital for keeping the magazine relevant to you the reader, and I urge you to take part in what effectively will determine the future direction of the editorial policy of the magazine. As an added incentive, everyone completing the survey will receive a free copy of our highly successful Engines and Accessories guide. So get to it, you need to have your completed survey back to us by 12th March to qualify for the freebie!

Enjoy the magazine and remember that your safety is our top priority.

Paul Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Club Marine Ltd.