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John Passant

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December 2012



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
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Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
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Turn back the yachts of the 1%

I wrote this last year. I have updated it a little to recognise who the possible winners of the yacht race are and the wealth behind them. I should also emphasize that this year it is the Sri Lankan team playing at the MCG. The Sri Lankan government is drenched in genocidal blood.


Boxing Day in Australia is the day of sales and sails. And the first day of the cricket at the MCG.

The test broadcast started half an hour early last year, and again this year. This as to enable us to watch the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race at 1 pm during lunch at the cricket.

Overturning the 11 am traditional start time of the cricket for a yacht race. Is nothing sacred?

As Marx and Engels so eloquently put it in The Communist Manifesto:

All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.

That is what is happening in cricket as the commercialisation of the game makes tests compete with Twenty20 big bashes for our sporting dollar. The first day of the Test before Christmas in Hobart allegedly drew 3000 spectators. The Big Bash Twenty20 game a few days later drew 12,000.

But this is not about cricket. It is about yachting, in particular maxi yachts.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race has always been a plaything of the rich. But it too, like cricket, has become more commercialised. Now the boats of the super rich carry advertisements for sponsors.

The supermaxi Wild Oats XI is one of the favourites to win line honours. Billionaire Bob Oatley owns it. He also owns Hamilton Island and the Wild Oats, Robert Oatley and Montrose wine labels. Ragamuffin Loyal won first cross the line last year as Investec Loyal. Loyal presumably refers to remaining loyal to naming rights and money.

Owned by Syd Fischer, Loyal ‘whatever its name is’ will also be in contention for line honours this year too. Fischer was a property developer. At its height, his organisation included ‘two high-rise office buildings in Sydney, the Gazebo Hotels in Kings Cross, Parramatta, Brisbane and Canberra, a building company, a joinery and a boat-building company.’

Last year’s handicap honours winner and also in the mix this year is Loki, owned by Stephen Ainsworth. He made his money by being the son of Len Ainsworth, founder of gaming monopoly Aristocrat.

So it helps if you want to do well in this Sydney to Hobart yacht race to have some serious money

As D D McNicoll put it in the Australian:

Having a new supermaxi designed and built today would cost up to $10 million then with over $1m a year to campaign the yacht and keep it competitive. Moving it around the world to contest the major long-distance ocean races would double annual costs.

Those costs make winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race the preserve of the rich and the race their plaything.

Yachting is an exclusive sport. It is the polo of the sea. And as everyone seems to remark, watching sailing is like watching grass grow, or paint dry.

Of course there are many less well off sailing enthusiasts. Indeed most of the members of sailing clubs own fairly cheap off the beach boats. They are sailing, not yachting.

They are as divorced from the Sydney to Hobart as you and me. They are not in the race.

Imagine if we used the money the rich waste on this frivolous exercise to better health and education in Australia. Imagine remains a John Lennon song, unfortunately.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is a race for the billionaires and multi-millionaires, the one percent. These people lead a very different life to us. They live off our hard work. They don’t and won’t mix with the rest of us. They inhabit rich ghettos. They speak a different language of finance and investment and money. They even eat different food. We don’t want them here. It’s time to turn back the yachts.

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Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

Yes, I agree. To hell with them.

Comment from Mary
Time December 29, 2012 at 7:56 am

I agree and the American Cup is the same. It is like watching grass grow on TV. Yet the channels all report it as if we all care! The rich have always had their toys to rub our noses in their wealth by calling it NEWS

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