NEWS - Loss of yachtsman in Pipe Opener Series 2010

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Tributes paid to Tasmanian sailor Ross Cubit

Fellow yachtsman today paid tribute to Ross Cubit who drowned in the d’Entrecasteaux Channel south of Hobart on Friday night after falling overboard from a yacht competing in the Pipe Opener Series. Flags at Hobart’s yacht club flew at half-mast as members gathered for a quiet tribute to a man who had been a sailing enthusiast for five decades.

Cubit, 56, was on the helm of the 14m catamaran Storm Bay, when a 50-knot wind gust hit the yacht as the 38-boat fleet was sailing the 28nm night race in enclosed waters from Hobart to Simpson’s Bay in the Channel. He disappeared overboard while the owner/skipper and another crew member were below decks.

The event was the first in a three-race series that was to have included the Cock of the Huon race in the Huon River on Saturday, but Derwent Sailing Squadron cancelled the other races as a mark of respect to Cubit.
The night race had been shortened from a finish at Gordon to a more sheltered area in Simpson’s Bay.

Cubit was member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania for the past 12 years, but most of his involvement in sailing over four decades had been as a long-time member of the Lindisfarne Sailing Club, sailing, developing and coaching dinghy classes.

He began sailing as a six-year-old at Montrose Bay Sailing Club and later taught his two sons, Matthew and Tim and daughter Elizabeth how to sail at Lindisfarne Sailing Club. Matthew was competing in the Piper Race on another yacht, She’s the Culprit.

"Ross was one of those volunteers who are the backbone of amateur sailing clubs and class associations in Tasmania," long-time friend and fellow yachtsman Tim Gourlay said at the RYCT yesterday afternoon, where other yachties gathered for a drink in memory of the lost sailor. "He was a most innovative sailor, always striving to get more out of a boat."

Gourlay said that when Cubit had taken on the role of State coach of the Sabot team going to national championships, Tasmanian sailors had been "right off the pace… finishing back in the 20-50 placings".

"Ross decided that while the Sabots hulls were good, the gear was not up to scratch and the kids were not fully prepared," Gourlay recalled.

"As State coach he instigated training and coaching sessions after school and at weekends as well making sure the boats were right up to scratch for a national championship. Within a season or two the Tasmanians were up with the best and one year we won the teams trophy at the nationals.

"Ross was always a willing volunteer and a competitive sailor himself in Lasers and 29ers. More recently,
he had sailed on bigger boats and was in the crew of Storm Bay in last year’s Launceston to Hobart Race," Gourlay added.

Peter Campbell

Photo: Storm Bay competing in last year’s Launceston to Hobart ocean race.


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