Legends of Australian Sailing

Australia II

The crew from Australia II will be inducted into the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame today. Yes, these are the legends who won the 1983 America’s Cup, plus the executive and design teams behind the onboard crew.

On the back of this occasion, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other legends in Australian sailing history.

Here’s who made our cut!

  1. Australia II Crew

Okay, we just mentioned them, but let’s spend some time unpacking why Australia II captured the hearts and minds of sailors and normal humans all over the world.

For one, they broke America’s 132-year-long winning streak to take home the oldest trophy in sporting history. That’s an epic achievement from a bunch of Aussies, but’s let’s face it, we know how to tackle our water sports.

Read more about Australia II’s win here.

  1. Rio silver medallist

As a teenager Will Ryan represented Australia in the 420 Worlds. At 28, he’s an Olympic Silver Medallist (Rio) and he took home Gold in the World Cup Final in 2016.

Will started sailing at 13 in his home town of Coal Point, NSW. His advice to other young sailors is to keep doing what you love, as it makes life so much easier. These days he crews with Matthew Belcher in the 470 Men’s 2-person division.

Read more about Will here.

  1. 16-year-old sails around the world

Jessica Watson OAM is another young sailor with big achievements under her belt. At only 16 years old she became the youngest person to sail the globe, but not without controversy.

Her voyage was 21,600 nautical miles shorter than an ‘official’ global navigation, but then Jessica never professed that her journey was about beating any record. Whether it was officially a circumnavigation or not, her feat really is a spectacular example of grit and strength.

Check out Jessica’s website here.

  1. The visionary behind Australia II

We simply have to mention John Bertrand, the Australian sailor who skippered Australia II’s infamous 1983 America’s cup win.

Bertrand use psychological tactics to get an edge over his American competitors, by refusing to refer to them by name, and simply calling them the ‘red boat’. This tactic was also used by Olympic Swimmer Mack Horton during the Rio Olympics.

Discover more about this legend here.


  1. First woman to circumnavigate the world

Like we said, Australia really does breed amazing sailors who know how to handle themselves in tough conditions.

Take Kay Cottee AO, who in 1988, became the first woman to circumnavigate the world non-stop and unassisted. Cottee achieved this at just 34 years old. Today, she is a motivational speaker, a boat builder, artist, author and business executive.

Get more info on the great Cottee here.

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