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Journeys : MNJ Aug Sep 2011
The bequest of 1947-48 Sydney to Hobart winner Westward to the Tasmanian Maritime Museum as a floating exhibit brings into focus for future generations of Tasmanians the incredible achievements of Tasmanian sailing icon Jock Muir. From the early days of the Sydney-Hobart race, when the name Jock Muir seemed inevitably associated with the design, building and sailing of the event’s w inners, to 60 years later in March 2009 when Jock Muir’s grandson Jason Muir became a world champion, the legacy bequeathed to the sport by this Hobart yachting family permeates many levels of Australian and world sailing. EJ ( Jock) Muir (1914-1996) was the son of a sailor. His father Ernie Muir was a lifelong seaman when sailing was purely a means of doing business. He worked between Tasmania and South Australia for many years, beginning in the late 1800s. Ernie was aboard the three-masted barque Natal Queen when she foundered at Adventure Bay on Br uny Island in 1909. Ernie’s son Jock began sailing on the Derwent in the 1920s, in the days when sailors were hard men who battled the elements without any of the modern accoutrements deemed essential today. His first foray into sailing and design came as a schoolboy in the form of home- designed and built model yachts that were raced, pursued by their ‘skipper’ in a rowing dinghy. Muir often told the story of following his model down-river from Batter y Point, where he later had his boat yard, all the way to the Iron Pot at the entrance to the Derwent. Then came the long row home! As a teenager, Muir was the w inner of the Stonehaven Cup, the Australian championship in the 12 foot Cadet Dinghy class. He later established himself as an offshore yachtsman of unparalleled skill and daring. Known particularly for his ability to drive a boat hard in heav y weather, he left an indelible positive inf luence on the development of the Sydney-Hobart race, as a designer, builder and seaman. Muir was renow ned among his peers for his ability to take seemingly endless stints at the wheel – crewmates were often amazed to hear him calmly whistling though his teeth as w inds howled and waves broke over the boat. The harder it blew, the more he whistled! The records of early Sydney-Hobar t races clearly demonstrate Jock Muir’s remarkable talents. While his name does not appear on any Sydney to Hobart trophies, Muir was directly responsible for five victories – Westward, handicap w inner in 1947-48 (designer, builder, sailing master); Waltzing Matilda, line honours w inner and second on handicap in 1949 (designer, builder, sailing master); Even, line honours w inner in 1955 (sailing master); and Kurrewa IV, line honours winner in 1960 (sailing master). In 1953, Muir once again made the double contribution as designer, and sailing master of Wild Wave. The boat was first to Hobart, only to be disqualified for a minor start-line infringement. Remarkably, his classic vessel Westward was designed with fishing rather than racing in mind. Built in Jock ’s Sandy Bay backyard, the boat had the fish-well sealed over and her propeller removed for the race. One wonders where the fish-well is located aboard Alfa Romeo or Wild Oats X1! Jock Muir Tasmanian icon Sailor and writer Mark Rasmussen reviews the maritime achievements of his children’s great-grandfather Above: Jock at the helm; Westward, painted by maritime artist Bill Mearns In Tasmania today 54 August / September 2011
Jun Jul 2011
Oct Nov 2011