2014 Yachting Victoria Awards

Robin Hewitt - Finalist in Services to Yachting category!

In all sports we find the exceptional character, the one that inspires, or coaches, the person who achieves at a higher level than all around them or who brings a special dignity to the sport of choice. Names like Rick Charlsworth, Steve Monagetti, Tommy Hafey come to mind.
Whilst the profile of yachting, particularly at the Corinthian level may not be as high, the name that rings clearly for us is Robin Hewitt. It is a pleasure to know that Robin has been named a finalist in Yachting Victoria’s 2014 awards in the category of Service to Yachting.
Hardly any member of the ORCV community will not have been touched by Robin and his activities. For the last fifty odd years he has been contributing to ocean racing.
As a competitor it is hard to see anyone to match the sheer volume of competition he has completed. Thirty one consecutive Melbourne to Hobart races via the rugged West Coast, all in his beloved self-built yacht Yoko. You name an Ocean Race from Victoria and Robin has completed it, probably multiple times and plenty of others besides. He has twice won the gruelling Double-Handed race from Melbourne to Osaka, he was a class winner in the 2006 Melbourne to Vanuatu race and has 120 other podium finishes, genuinely too numerous to name here.
It is clear that the podium is a pleasant experience but for Robin the journey is demonstrably more important. It is estimated that he has introduced more than 3,800 crew to the sport of Ocean racing and it is a testament to his character and temperament that he has a core group that have remained with him for more than twenty years. Not for Robin is the role of fickle skipper, cherry picking crew just on ability, he has introduced the visually impaired the wheelchair bound, the elderly and most of all, the beginner, all with his quiet competent style.
He recognised early on that to be a sailor was not in itself enough. To promote the sport, to keep it safe and to grow it into the future you need to take an active role in the administration. A long term member of the ORCV committee he has held executive roles and continues as Honorary Secretary, so very necessary but not very sexy. He and wife Val have supervised for years the production of the club trophies, no small task so next time you collect a piece of glassware or silverware spare a thought for the fact that someone has taken the time to organise for it to be handed to you.
On top of all this he is a natural trainer. Any that have attended the Safety at Sea and Survival course will have heard his words of wisdom and possibly seen his demonstration of correct middle wear for the rigours of the ocean. SSSC is dependent on an array of volunteers and the real world experience of the Robin Hewitt's is invaluable to the new entrants to the sport. Robin saw a need to deal more scientifically with the passage through the infamous Port Phillip Bay heads and introduced the Rip Tour, a practical on-water tour of the rip, which he continues to run. He made himself the ORCV weather “Guru” and apart from briefing fleets he passes on his knowledge through his weather courses which have seen some 1400 graduates. Don’t let the grey hair fool you either he makes sure to stay abreast of new technologies and emerging trends so he can pass on the best information possible.
As an organisation I am sure we all would like to see Robin win this award, he frankly deserves no less, but like his sailing I suspect Robin will be happy to have been on the journey, podium finish or not.

Robin and Val on arrival in Hobart after the 2011 Westcoaster
Robin - The Winner!  2010 Port Fairy
Robin - The Trainer! Rip Tour of Port Phillip Heads
 
 Robin - the Winter Sereis Race Director is always aboard Thorsen

The Winner the  Services to Yachting Award will be announced at the 2014 OTB Marine Yachting Victoria Awards evening on Friday 20th June at SYC.

By Jennifer McGuigan