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Australian sailing legend Syd Fischer dies, aged 95: ‘Left a lasting legacy’

Australian sailing legend Syd Fischer has passed away at the age of 95.

Known as the ‘Ragamuffin Man’ for his famous boats, Fischer was one of Australia’s finest oceangoing sailors and competed in an incredible 42 Sydney to Hobart yacht races.

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In an amazing feat, Fischer last took part in the legendary race in 2015 at the age of 88.

Fischer was also a decent rugby league player, playing a handful of top-flight games for Manly between 1949 and 1952.

Fischer’s Super Maxi Ragamuffin is part of sailing folklore, having won honors on the Sydney to Hobart line in 1988 and 1990 and winning the overall handicap title in 1992.

In 1962 Fischer skippered his first boat and during his career he produced eight different boats to tackle the famous Bass Strait.

Fischer – from Sydney – has also enjoyed great sailing success around the world, competing in eight Admiral’s Cups and five America’s Cups; a record he shares with Sir Thomas Litpon.

Syd Fisher before the 2014 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Credit: Getty Images
Liesl Tesch and Syd Fisher smash a champagne bottle to start the Super Maxi Ragamuffin 100 raced at Sydney Hobart in 2014. Credit: Getty Images

The tall sailor has twice been named Australian Yachtsman of the Year and is a four-time winner of the Offshore Racer of the Year award.

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Awarded an OBE in 1971, Fischer mentored some of Australia’s finest sailors and is a member of the NSW Sports Hall of Fame, the America’s Cup Hall of Fame and the Australian Sailing’s Hall of Fame.

“His achievements and contributions over the decades are exceptional,” the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia said in a statement on Sunday.

“He left a lasting legacy that includes mentoring hundreds of seafarers including Jimmy Spithill, Lain Murray and Hugh Treharne.

“Syd is widely regarded as Australia’s greatest ocean-going yachtsman and has skippered many successful yachts over the years, notably his many Ragamuffins.

“Our deepest condolences to Syd’s family and friends.”

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