Sir James Gilbert Hardy OBE
20 November 1932 – 14 June 2023
The Classic Yacht Association of Australia wish to acknowledge the passing of Sir James Hardy OBE.
Much has been written about Gentleman Jim, as he was known, and he is one of the best known yachting personalities in Australia. He started sailing very early on, building and campaigning his own Cadet dinghy whilst still at school in South Australia. He went on to compete at many state and national titles. He competed in two Olympics games and won the 1966 World Championship in the 505 class, defeating 4 time Olympic champion Paul Elvström.
From here it was on to the America’s Cup, narrowly missing selection as helmsman for the 1970 Gretell II challenge, before becoming skipper for the 1974 (Southern Cross) and 1980 (Australia) campaigns. He was back-up helmsman and adviser to John Bertrand for the victorious 1983 series won by Australiia II.
He was a prolific ocean racer sailing in many national and international events including skippering Police Car to victory in the 1980 Sydney to Hobart, and representing Australia 4 times in the prestigious Admiral’s Cup where he was helmsman on Impetuous on the way to the Australian teams victory in the 1979 event, including surviving the infamous Fastnet race of that year.
Personal accolades were many. James was awarded an OBE in 1975 for services to sport and to the community. He was was knighted in 1981 for services to yachting, inducted to the America’s Cup hall of Fame in 1994 and awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000.
From a classic yacht perspective, James was the custodian of the beautiful 45’ gaff cutter Nerida. An Alfred Mylne design, she was built by South Australian yacht builders RT Searles and Sons, for his father Tom Hardy in 1933. James repurchased the yacht in 1971 and embarked on a major restoration. She was a regular competitor in classic yacht events in Syndney is owned by the family to this day. James had been a CYAA member from early on joining the association in 1998.
Sir James Hardy will be remembered as a champion yachtsman and successful businessman, but also he will be remembered as a generous, engaging and humble man; a true gentleman. He will be sadly missed not only by the Australian and international sailing fraternity but also the broader Australian sports community.