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and evolving business sense, so much so, that he soon found him- self travelling with his boss to New Guinea where the company also traded. Coffee was a new crop for the natives in the highlands and it would soon come to pass that Mr Colyer, with Bob at his side, would pioneer the sale of New Guinea coffee on the world market. In his early 20s Bob married Rosemary Bray, who also lived in Mosman. The marriage lasted 18 years and in that time three children – Andrew (Sandy), Ian and Ros – were born. While the family lived in Balmoral Bob would spend up to six weeks at a time in New Guinea. Eventually, when Mr Colyer decided to retire, he sold Bob all his shares in the coffee company, Angco, after which the business continued to go from strength to strength. By the early 1970s Bob’s coffee company was generating 65 per cent of New Guinea’s gross national product.

When independence came to New Guinea in late 1973 the oppor- tunity presented itself for Bob to sell Angco to the government, which he did. The subsequent search for a new business opportunity in Australia would eventually lead to his establishing a vineyard in the Hunter Valley. Initially, it started as little more than a hobby farm for him and his family, but as time went on it became apparent that he was again on the road to success. The name of the property he bought was Rosemount, and that label went on to become Australia’s largest exporter of wine; at its zenith Rosemount was producing an amazing 48 million bottles annually. Rosemount achieved international acclaim in 1982 when its Roxborough Chardonnay was officially recognised as the world’s best Chardonnay. The same year Bob married his longtime partner, Val Street, to whom he affectionately referred as The Duchess. With opportunities for his wine business abounding in Europe, Bob established a base in Sardinia. He purchased a residence on the Porto Cervo waterfront. In the early days he raced a Swan 44 out of Costa Smeralda Yacht Club, while more recently he cam- paigned Wild Oats and Wild Oats XIin Mediterranean events. Rosemount’s success continued until March 2001 when it merged with Southcorp Wines, a relationship that came to an end in 2005. In the meantime, Bob’s family company had also purchased Australia’s premier tropical island resort destination, Hamilton Island.

The Rosemount era also meant Bob could spend more time at home in Sydney, enabling him to rekindle his passion for sailing. In 1984 he built his first Wild Oats, a Farr 43 which, renamed Wild Rose, remains competitive to this day.

By the late 1990s Bob Oatley had developed an inseparable bond with yacht builder and sailor Mark ‘Ricko’ Richards, a friendship that has seen Richards be principal helmsman of all of Bob’s Wild Oats yachts since then. It was when the two were working with designers Reichel-Pugh on the 60ft Wild Oats(which went to the Admiral’s Cup in 2003) that the canting-keel concept, popular in the open classes but unseen in grand prix fleets, was seized on. Mark Richards: ‘We went to San Diego to evaluate the concept with the designers and sail a Schock 40 that had a canting keel. The yacht was an absolute pile of junk and it had weed growing off the bottom, but even that didn’t stop Bob from seeing the poten- tial. When we got back to the dock Bob just said, “Well, let’s have a go.” It was as simple as that. He called it an 80/20 chance back

Olaf Harken hard at work on the block mill in the original Harken factory (they’ve since added aircon). Ok, we made a little of that up, but do yourself a favour and get hold of a copy of Olaf’s recently published memoir, Fun Times in Boats, Blocks and Business. Caught up as a youngster in the Japanese invasion of Indonesia, the book steams on, barely stopping for breath. An extraordinary life recorded as humorously as you’d expect from a very fine gentleman and a true engineering perfectionist


then – an 80 per cent chance it would be a lemon and a 20 per cent chance it would be absolutely sensational.’ Bob Oatley enriched Australia in many ways with his business acumen, sportsmanship, energy, integrity, friendship and unfailing generosity. In 2014 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his significant contributions to the Australian way of life. Bob Oatley was a great man; a Great Australian.


I liked your editorial in February Seahorse on possible ways of reinventing the Admiral’s Cup. My proposal was on exactly the same lines several years ago, but to remain even more informal until you could get the event off the ground.

My thought was just to take the top three boats from any country that has boats entered in the Channel Race, Cowes Week and the Fastnet. That way you get around the politics of organising a team, which is one of several reasons the event died – owners with deep pockets are not always keen to compromise in team situations! This also ducks the issue of having something formal enough to attract the attention/disapproval of differing sponsor cultures. Peter Wykeham-Martin (former RORC general manager)


Thank you for your comment (March 2016) on the HP30 Class. There is a difference between the Fast40+ programme and the HP30 Class; whereas the Fast 40s are optimising to a specific rule, the HP30s will be encouraged to stay within the bounds of their specific One Design configurations.

The premise of this is to provide a home for fledgling one-design, high-performance raceboats and not to encourage a proliferation of custom-built 30-footers. As you rightly pointed out, however, only time and the owners will determine the outcome. The class rule has been developed with former Admiral’s Cup sailor Jochem Visser, now of the UK Sports Boat Association. It provides racing for boats between 5 and 9.15m (or 9.5m for existing boats). The rationale for conjoining the sportboat fleet and small high-performance keelboats is to ensure that there will quickly be enough boats on the startline.

The most likely outcome will be a division of boats, into two fleets, at these events; where the minimum IRC TCC of 1.030 determines the start point of the larger HP30s. So far the class has attracted interest from Farr280s, J/80s, Open 7.5s, FarEast28s, Seascapes and potentially a number of Farr 30s (provided they have a fixed centreline spinnaker pole), with an anticipated fleet size of at least a dozen boats. Having recently exhibited at the colossus of all boat shows (BOOT Düsseldorf), I can report that there is a huge appetite for this type of sailing and there are plenty of wonderful boats available for people to step into. I hope that the work that we are doing with this initiative will result in three things: 1. provide a platform for sailing clubs and regattas to deliver exciting racing 2. give owners increased choice of which boats to buy 3. drive new boat sales for designers and builders For more information go to Joe Hall, HP30 Class


Sir Timothy Bevan was Admiral of the RORC from 1996 to 2000 and before that the club’s treasurer since 1991. He presided over a time when sailing was going through a metamorphosis, becoming much more professional with the Commodores’ Cup introduced in 1992 as an acknowledgment to Corinthian sailors since the Admiral’s Cup had by now become a big money regatta. Born in London in 1927, to a descendant of one of the founding families of Barclays Bank, it was only natural that he would follow the family path into the financial industry, eventually becoming chairman of Barclays.

He was passionate about sailing and became a member of the RORC in 1964. It was said that most of his courtship of his wife

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