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This Article Last Updated: Mar 12th, 2015 - 18:33:43 

Tim Owens, Australian Olympian
Mar 12, 2015, 18:27

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The sad loss of Tim Owens

It was with great sadness that we heard that Tim Owens had passed away on 28th February. Tim was one of the Club’s longest serving members having joined in 1956 (this was the same year as Peter Rundle and John Bach and preceded only by Ray Kiely, Albert and Shirley Mitchell and Helmut Schultz, I think).

Those who have been active in sailing at LMYC in the past 20 years or so would know Tim well and are beneficiaries of his cheerful personality and wisdom. Tim sailed with Albert Mitchell on Helsal II and on Albert’s Diamond in the Australian Championships in Hobart. Tim’s own boats included an 11 metre One Design, a 30 Square Metre, a modified Adams 10 and his current boat Dee One, the Adams 10.6. Tim was honoured to carry the Olympic torch through Belmont for the opening of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

But few would know about his incredible sailing achievements in his earlier years. Alistair Leask has kindly spoken with a number of people and recalled his own memories to put together the following:

Star class yachts were a major part of Tim’s life for a quarter of a century – they took him to regattas up and down the east coast of Australia and to Chicago, Tokyo, Kiel, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He got to know and compete against some of the very best yachtsmen in the world.

Tim was a well known, well respected and well liked Star sailor who was a foundation member of the Lake Macquarie Fleet of District 11 of the ISCYRA (chartered in 1960, it was the first fleet of an international class on the Lake). Tim held positions ranging from Fleet Captain to Continental 1st Vice President (Australia).

He was a consistently competitive sailor who gave encouragement to others and provided a good yardstick: if you could mix it with Tim, you were sailing well (but it didn’t happen often!). Over the years he was the owner of 5 Star boats (Valsheda, Maryke, Starfire and two Boofa). At various times he was Fleet Champion and NSW Champion. His first overseas experience was at the Star Worlds in Chicago in 1963 where he crewed for Graham Engert in Mac. He competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 as crew for Martin Visser in Maryke.

In 1963 he represented Lake Macquarie in the Worlds at Kiel with Bob Cox as crew: he finished a creditable 26th out of 87 qualifiers, including an 11th place – the best result in a world championship by an Australian at that time. He has had the good fortune to have been taken sailing by Dennis Connor who said “I’m not going to tell you what to do – but you can learn by watching what I do.”

In 1978 Tim and Bob competed in the Worlds at San Francisco where they had a steep learning experience: dense fog, racing current, strong winds, droppy seas. In 1983, Tim and Terry Carruthers sailed the pre-olympic regatta at Long Beach California followed by the Worlds in Los Angeles. In each of these events he was able to sail against the best of the best – the likes of Tom Blackaller, Buddy Melges, Bill Buchan and Dennis Connor. In one race Tim was mixing it with the top ten when he crossed tacks with Dennis Connor who called out “Hey Tim, what are you doing up here in this high real estate area.”

Tim was always a strong advocate of class racing and in particular of the Star Class. One of his remarks was “If you hear someone knocking the Star, you will know that they have never sailed one.”

Alistair concludes by saying “It was a pleasure and a privilege Tim to have known you, crewed for you, sailed against you – there are few your equal.”
Sentiments shared by all Tim’s friends at LMYC.

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