Sydney marine artist, Jack Earl, could never have realised he was initiating a famous ocean race when he planned to cruise to Hobart in December 1945. Two friends also decided to sail their yachts and English Captain, John Illingworth, said he would go if they made it a race. On Boxing Day 1945 nine yachts set sail for Hobart. Illingworth’s yacht, Rani, arrived first, on January 2.

A record Sydney Hobart fleet competed in the 50th Sydney Hobart with 371 yachts setting sail from Sydney Harbour. Three hundred and six finishing the tough race to moor in Constitution Dock and Sullivans Cove. Line honours went to the maxi ketch Tasmania, skippered by well known boat-builder Bob Clifford.

Featured in the exhibition are photos and a model of the cutter Westward, the only Tasmanian yacht to have won two Sydney Hobarts on handicap, in 1947 and 1948. The yacht itself was gifted to the Maritime Museum by its Queensland owner of more than 50 years. Westward, designed and built by the famous Hobart shipwright Jock Muir, was sailed back to Hobart in 2010 and is now berthed in Constitution Dock.

Stories of conditions on board, stricken yachts and some wonderful photographs by legendary race photographer, Richard Bennett can also be found in the display which will run until April 2014.

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