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past and present

Vale Hobie Alter

So glad Hobie Alter finally got some recognition in the MSM, albeit in his death.

In the multihull world, three names stand out, IMHO – Charlie Cunningham downunder with his Quickcat and a string of Little America’s Cup challenges and victories, James Wharram with his immensely practical seagoing cats and Hobie Alter, the biggest name of the three, who developed the Hobiecat and brought sailing to the masses.


I met him at his garage one day in Mordialloc, Victoria and he was the loveliest man, with a deep love for cat sailing. He was Australia’s pioneer.



Revolutionized oceangoing cruising cats with simple, low-tech designs which were affordable for people.   He also revolutionized two-girl crews, something I’m planning to do too on my humble craft.


Hobie Alter

His Hobiecats, virtually indestructible GRP cats, could be bounced around by huge Hawaiian waves, crashed onto rocks and still survive.


I don’t like them, being garish and ugly but one has to concede they brought fun sailing to the masses.…

Jason Akermanis

jason akermanisBit of a relapse here today so not blogging or doing anything much – occasionally waking and watching something for half an hour.

One of the things I watched was a programme called Open Mike with a seasoned football scribe in Australia and his show always had the most controversial footballers, the bad boys of the game who also had talent.

He’d grill them mercilessly so why they agreed to go on was interesting in itself. Perhaps because he was fair.

One I watched was a triple premiership player, Jason Akermanis, hundreds of games , absolute magician – think of an intelligent Rooney or Ronaldo. From his goatee beard to his newspaper column in which he’d often shoot off his mouth, he was highly opinionated but time would actually prove him right.

He had this knack of saying things which shocked the hell out of people and they were disgusted by him saying them … but those things usually turned out to be right in the end.…

Sidelights on Tony Benn

… now the hullabaloo has died away. There was a certain reaction to my less than gracious ignoring of the great man.

tony benn

TB phone home


I have a vivid memory of seeing (on TV) Enoch Powell and Tony Benn sharing a platform and both speaking out against the EU or Common Market as it then was. This was in the run up to the 1975 Referendum on whether we stayed in or pulled out.

Both men were experts on the Constitution and both knew that to join the EU would mean we would have to surrender British sovereignty.

Reading this in the Daily Mail reminded me that Benn, if a bit naive politically, could see the ‘big picture’ very clearly indeed.

Tuesday, October 1, 1996: Labour Party conference, Blackpool. The centre is full of videos running pictures of Blair, Blair, Blair, Blair. To have people come all the way to conference just to watch a video is an outrage.…

The mysterious death of Dorothy Kilgallen

It’s the second time this has been mentioned but one of the most fascinating aspects of the NY TV quiz show What’s My Line was panellist Dorothy Kilgallen.   In fact the story of that show was the story of quite surprising backgrounds in general.

To look at this earnest, seemingly unprepossessing woman, you might even feel not as warmly towards her as you might towards the other regular female, Arlene Francis.   You’d not be altogether wrong in that feeling – she was an award winning muck raking journalist and the mystery of her death seems to have had something to do with her work.…