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Peter Sorensen
Peter Sorensen, skipper of Tia Maria - JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship
Peter Sorensen, skipper of Tia Maria - JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship

Other NameBig Handome Pete, Soro, Sorro
GenderMale
Date Born12 May 1942
NationalityAustralian
Current City/HometownSydney
ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
Boat Owner ofFujin
Jungle Juice
Magnavox
Morning Mist
PK Gum
Quadrant
The Philosophers Club
Tia Maria
Boats Sailed OnShalimar
Tehani

Peter Sorensen

The Early Years

MHYC: The First 60 Years

Article by: Peter Sorensen

Published: 1999

Peter Sorensen

When I was 13 years old I first brought my VJ Quadrant under the old Spit Bridge and raced with the Middle Harbour VJ Club (now the Middle Harbour Amateurs). The club had 70 VJs in those days, racing in two divisions, and was the number one club in New South Wales.

My first experience with Middle Harbour Yacht Club was an invitation yacht race for the Northbridge VJ Club organised by the late Norm Brooker. I sailed on a very large yacht in No. 1 Division in a southerly gale. The names of the boat and skipper escape me but I remember being amazed at the latter's vocal capacity, particularly when the boom broke. I was even more amazed when he decided to continue with a spinnaker pole lashed to the foot of his mainsail. My father also used to race with Jim Mason on his early boats, particularly Tehani and I raced with them occasionally.

So began my love for Middle Harbour. I have raced sailing boats in many places around the World but I have never seen a lovelier place than the areas Where our club races. The lovely clean sandy beaches and the wonderful sandstone sculptures of the headlands (written about and painted by Lloyd Rees), the north-easter haze on the Harbour - all these things are unique to Sydney.

Middle Harbour Yacht Club stalwarts against whom I can remember racing include Fraser Johnston, Jim Burke and Tony Rickards Castlecrag boatshed and sail it up to Middle Harbour through. We used to rig our boat at the Spit Bridge. The Old Spit Bridge was so low that at high tide the VJ would only fit under laid right over. For the next few years I raced Gwen 12s, a 505 and a Flying Dutchman, picking up three New South Wales State Championships in the Gwen 12s.

I then came back to Middle Harbour and raced 16-foot skiffs for seven years. We had an on-going battle with the Maritime Services Board to keep our courses in front of the club but we were eventually successful. I represented New South Wales in six years out of seven, which was just about a record in those days.

We then decided to go into 18-footers. I first intended to race for one year, but it was 12 years later that I eventually called it quits. When I started sailing 18-footers they had no outriggers. I was racing 'eighteens' when outriggers were first installed and I was there when they grew to their maximum of 26 feet wide. Racing with outriggers 26 feet wide was a nightmare and fortunately they had been reduced to 18 feet by the time I left.

In the middle of all this I graduated fiom Sydney University and set up a legal practice in Crows Nest, which I still run today in partnership with Tony Brown (Buster Brown's son). About 1989 I purchased my Adams 10 Jungle Juice, and I have had two previous boats registered with the club, a Hood 23 Cool Octopus and a J24 Yahtzee. I also spent a season sailing with the grand old man of sailing, Noel Hopkinson, on his Colleen-class yacht Shalimar.

I raced Jungle Juice for several years and we won two Australian titles. Then I lost my marbles and returned to 18-foot skiff racing -- not a sensible move for someone in their late fifties. The young guys competing against me gave me heaps. However, we have had a surprising degree of success (we won the 1999 European 18-footer Championship) and I will hang in there for another year or two when I will once again retire to Middle Harbour.

I have also acquired a Farr 50-footer, now called Foxtel Titan Ford, which we race at Middle Harbour. My co- owners are the radio and TV personality Stan Zemanek, and long-time club stalwart Julie Hodder

General Photos

Peter Sorensen in a thoughtful mood. The occasion is a 1996 Mexican party at Middle Harbour Yacht Club
Peter Sorensen in a thoughtful mood. The occasion is a 1996 Mexican party at Middle Harbour Yacht Club
Old Salt Sorro
Old Salt Sorro's amazing 18-footer comeback
Peter Sorensen 2008 IRC Australian Champion wins the Audi
Peter Sorensen 2008 IRC Australian Champion wins the Audi
Commodore Julie Hodder and Peter Sorensen aboard his The Philosopher
Commodore Julie Hodder and Peter Sorensen aboard his The Philosopher's Club - 2011 Sydney Harbour Regatta MHYC

18 Foot Years

Peter Sorensen won numerous Australian Championships and two JJ Giltinan  World 18ft skiff titles, on Tia Maria in 1983 and 1984.

Facebook Photos

From 18 Footers - The Classic Years Facebook site

Peter Sorensen
Peter Sorensen's PK Gum. (Frank Quealey's collection).
Peter Sorensen
Peter Sorensen's PK Gum. (Frank Quealey's collection).
Tia Maria. (Frank Quealey
Tia Maria. (Frank Quealey
Tia Maria. (Frank Quealey
Tia Maria. (Frank Quealey's collection)
Tia Maria. (Frank Quealey
Tia Maria. (Frank Quealey's collection)

JJ Giltinan - Famous Incidents in 18 foot skiff history

Story in Sail World

http://www.sail-world.com/2014-JJ-Giltinan---Famous...in-18-foot.../119475

The third 'incident' occurred at the 1984 Championship, which was sailed on Sydney Harbour.

Peter Sorensen's Tia Maria team was the defending champion and well placed to defend the title when one of the most bizarre incidents occurred.

It was just before the start of the race when, as sheet hand Matt Coleman recalls: 'We tangled with the chain holding the marlin board on the starter's boat'.

'I don't know how it started, but Big Kite (Dave Stephens) hit me and we were into it. We were standing toe to toe in the middle of the boat and I don't know how we didn't capsize'.

'We were near Bradley's Head and I remember the crowd there and people on the spectator ferry cheering loudly'.

'Finally, Soro managed to break it up and we started late - well behind the other boats'.

'Big Kite had two broken fingers and I had a cut above the eye which bled throughout the race, but somehow we managed to get around the course and finished second or won. Honestly, I can't remember'.

'Afterwards, I was taken to St. Vincents Hospital and Big Kite to Royal North Shore Hospital'.

'It was just one of those things. Two aggressive, competitive young men who just exploded in the heat of battle'.

1980's

Yachtsman of the Year Contenders

Peter Sorensen: 1982/83 18-ft Skiff World Champion, skippering Tia Maria to the title in New Zealand

Yachtsman of the Year Contenders

2003

Cuban Cruising

Cuban Cruising with Mariner Boating - article in Offshore Jun/Jul 2003

2008


Peter Sorensen 2008 IRC Australian Champion wins the Audi
Peter Sorensen 2008 IRC Australian Champion wins the Audi
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