The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race today awarded its highest honour to four men whose individual contributions to the race over many decades have helped to make it one of the world's great ocean classics.
The four - John Honeysett, Rowan Johnston, Peter Campbell and John Kirkjian - were each given the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Meritorious Service Award at the annual race prize giving ceremony in Hobart.
All have played major behind-the-scenes roles going back decades, back to a time when yachts gave their position by Morse code and those then had to be individually plotted on a chart by hand to create an overall picture of the fleet and the state of the race.
John Honeysett, Rowan Johnston, who is a past commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and the late Bob Laing began their involvement in the early 1960s as members of the RYCT Sydney-Hobart Committee.
The three of them would drive to Hobart Radio to collect the position reports transmitted by Morse code from the yachts. Once they were plotted back at the RYCT clubhouse in Sandy Bay, the positions were copied to the CYCA in Sydney. This was the foundation of the race information centre that John Honeysett and Bob Laing ran until 1997.
Rowan Johnston was the Hobart-based director of the race from 1981 to 1997. He worked closely with the CYCA's Sydney-based race director Gordon Marshall. Their relationship cemented the co-operation necessary between the two clubs to run the race safely and effectively.
Rowan Johnston maintains an interest in the race by keeping the register of all yachts that have competed in the race since its inception.
Peter Campbell's is a more familiar name in connection with the Rolex Sydney Hobart. He is one of the country's best known and most respected yachting journalists and was the race's media director from 1991-2005. He also edited the CYCA's official magazine,Offshore Yachtingwhere he remains its Editor-at-Large.
Peter was a media consultant to the CYCA from 1994-2005. He joined the CYCA in 1971, and, until returning to Hobart to live in 2006, regularly raced the Bonbridge 27Hornblowerin CYCA and interclub events.
Peter's involvement in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race goes back 66 years when he began covering the race as a cub reporter at theMercuryin 1946. A former editor ofModern Boatingmagazine, Peter has edited and written several books on sailing.
"I certainly was surprised - it was a well-kept secret," Campbell said at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania today.
Campbell initially returned to Hobart four years ago today, to retire, but has been kept busier than ever and is back working for the Mercury where he did his cadetship.
"I'm very, very proud to receive this recognition; it's not just a personal one, but one for the media too. Without that, the race wouldn't be what it is today. It has played a big role in getting sponsorship," said Campbell who was press officer for the recent Launceston Hobart and is currently covering the Laser, 420 and Mirror Nationals, along with Cadet Worlds.
Next for the yachting writer are the Farr 40 Tasmanian Championship and the Australian Youth Championships and will have a role to play in the Optimist nationals.
John Kirkjian's name is synonymous with truth and justice in the sailing world. He is an authority on the rules of sailing and has been a volunteer member of race protest committees for 40 years at state, national and international level.
He chaired the race's International Jury from 2003 to 2011 and served on the jury for 24 years.
John's career in sailing began when he joined Woollahra Sailing Club in 1974 and was appointed race officer and Protest Committee member for Manly Juniors and Flying Eleven classes. He joined the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in 1979 and was appointed as a CYCA Safety Inspector in 1981, a position he still holds today.
At 76 years of age, John is still a passionate sailor who regularly participates in club events on his Jarkan 38Lady Ann.
By Bruce Montgomery, Rolex Sydney Hobart media team