|Club||Middle Harbour Yacht Club|
Sydney Amateur Sailing Club
|Boat Owner of||Ariel|
From MHYC: The First 60 Years
Article by: Frank Likely
My first sight of Noel occurred in January 1946. I had just moved into a boatshed business in Sailor Bay, Northbridge. Every Saturday - rain, hail or shine - a raised-deck yacht called Inez used to come past heading for the Spit Bridge.
I was not to meet Noel personally until 1947, when my friend Tiny Hunter and I joined MHYC to race Tiny's converted 18-footer Nisus in the recently formed Division C. Noel was then racing a little sloop called Windsong in that division, and what a joy it was to race against him. Early in the piece he taught me the value of 'protecting your Weather'. To attempt to pass Noel to windward would be sure to start a fierce luffing match that left you in no doubt that to attempt to sail over the top of Noel was not the Way to go.
Despite Noel's reputation as an aggressive competitor he was always a sportsman and a gentleman, on and off the Water, and I can't recall an occasion when a protest was lodged against him.
Noel's next yacht was the Colleen class Shalimar and she is the yacht that most members associate with Noel, for he sailed it successfully in club races for 22 years. It was rare for Noel to miss a race, and as for retiring in heavy weather, Shalimar was sailed to the point of foundering. Shalimar was a very low wooded boat by modern standards. However, Noel revelled in it and was always at his best in heavy going.
It came as quite a surprise to me when Noel sold Shalimar after racing her for so many years with so much success. I'm sure that everyone had come to expect that man and boat were a permanent combination, but all things change and Noel's next boat was a 5.5-metre class called Crest.
For the next two years Noel raced in the 5.5-metre division of the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, but raced only occasionally with MHYC. It was the only period Noel did not have a boat with MHYC on the sail, but this was put right when he bought the Top Hat-class yacht Ariel and commenced racing her during the 1979/80 season, and continued to do so until 1986, when he retired from racing after a period of 40 years - quite an achievement!
During this 40 years of racing, two of Noel's crew, Ken Steel and Clive Rushton, sailed with him for 20 and 10 years respectively.