"The start of the first Sydney Hobart race, December 26th, 1945."

The painting depicts 6 of the yachts, out of a total of 9, that raced in the first Sydney to Hobart race.

The race started in beautifully fine weather, with a north easterly breeze, at 11am on 26th December, 1945, off Flagstaff Point on the northern side of Quarantine Bay, near Manly. The race start at 11am was a very 'cruisey' affair with the yachts crossing the start line over a period of a few minutes, such that, by the time they reached the Sydney harbour heads there was quite a distance between the first and last yachts.

In the painting all the yachts are lifting and plunging through the swells that have rounded the North Head. These swells are surging along the northern shoreline, leaving a trail of white water. The north easterly breeze is freshening and clouds cast shadows on the water. All the yachts have cotton canvas sails and most are stained and well worn. Just after the end of the war canvas was in short supply and a decision was made, by the race committee, that no spinnakers would be allowed.

In the foreground of the painting is the 10.6m "Rani" , designed by Arthur Barber and owned and skippered by Captain John Illingworth. "Rani" was the winner of the first Sydney Hobart race on both line and handicap and one of the smallest yachts in this race. Sheets are eased as she rides up to the top of a swell.

Other yachts in the painting are, from left to right;

"Wayfarer", 12.2m ketch owned by Peter Luke, a co-founder of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. He had built "Wayfarer" to an Alden design, but modified for his purposes. He owned "Wayfarer" for 52 years. She finished last and was last on handicap of the 8 yachts that finished the race. One yacht retired .

"Ambermerle", 10.4m cutter owned by John Colquhoun and Clarrie Keel. She finished fifth and was second on handicap.

"Kathleen", 13.4m Colin Archer design owned by Jack Earl. She was the third yacht to cross the finish line in Hobart and was fourth on handicap.She is presently moored at the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.

"Mistral II", 19.2m Alden schooner owned by R. F. Evans. She was the largest yacht in the race. She finished sixth and was seventh on handicap. In the painting a cloud has cast a shadow over "Mistral II" as she sails behind an incoming swell.

"Winston Churchill", 15.9m owned and designed by Percy Coverdale. "Winston Churchill" had sailed up from Tasmania to take part in the race and was the favourite for line honours. She finished second and was third on handicap. She led the fleet out through the Sydney Heads at the start of the race.
Dimensions18" x 26"
MediaOil on canvas


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