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Motor Cycle RacingWhat doesn't kill you makes you strong ~ as they say. I started as a teenager with motorcycle racing and then switched to yacht racing in my mid 30's. 

Mike is an experienced yacht racing sailor who sails with his son and regular crew on his Farr 740 Sports boat named "Oh Really!" ~ but is also a crewman, navigator & trimmer on much larger ocean racing boats.

A late starter, he took up sailing as a 'relaxing hobby' with a Laser dinghy after he retired from competitive motorcycle racing at the age of 34. Was it a coincidence, that within a year he was trying to go faster than other boats ...and a new competitive passion had surfaced?  Five boats later, and a commitment to offshore racing yachts like 'Doctel Rager', 'Pale Ale Rager', 'Ca Va' and 'Asylum', he still has dreams of a ‘bigger’ and faster yacht of his own.


Sydney to Hobart 2008Since 2002 he has sailed on a range of offshore racing yachts, building his skills and covering thousands of ‘sea miles’ by helping to 'deliver' race boats from Brisbane to Sydney, from Melbourne to Adelaide and from Adelaide to Sydney. Along the way he has competed in eight Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race events, and national racing regattas including Hamilton Island Race Week, Brisbane Multi-Hull Championship and Geelong Audi Victoria Week. And also the 'Big One' on Boxing Day.

In December 2008 Mike achieved a long time quest to race in the "Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race", managed by the CYCA in Sydney.  After six years of racing in SA waters aboard the 56 ft racing yacht  'Doctel Rager' or ‘Pale Ale Rager’ (owned by Adelaide doctor and yachtsman Gary Shanks), Mike finally became a crew member in the classic 630 nautical mile race that starts on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day. It is not all plain sailing!

Images courtesy of Sail-World.com and Rolex Media

Getting there: The first part of this 'Hobart Commitment' was a long-haul delivery of the boat from Adelaide to Sydney in mid December 2008, a rugged 7 day journey with headwinds topping out around 50 knots and very heavy, confused seaway with waves on masive swells off the Continental Shelf between Kangaroo Island and King Island in Bass Strait. We still did Media Reports to ABC Radio 891 Adelaide regardless of the conditions! Because we were not racing at that time, the skipper wisely chose to stop in Portland, Victoria, for a day & night to let the bad weather pass by and dry out the boat - so we had a great Portland Hotel dinner, some Coopers Pale Ale for our friendly helpers at the fisherman's wharf and then did the reeving of all new halyards we were planning to do in Sydney. A job done early.

How do you describe an event that changes lives ~ for good ...or bad?  When you exit Sydney Heads, the sky buzzing with TV helicopters, the cliffs lined with thousands of spectators, picking your way through hundreds of joistling spectator boats ...and then 'turn right' to go South - there is no getting off, or messing about.  The long haul has begun.

The 2008 Sydney to Hobart was a very fast race. Pale Ale Rager arrived at race finish at Hobart docks after 2 days, 16 hours and 42 minutes, achieving speeds of 26 knots (about 50kph) while crossing Bass Strait, surfing down large swells and breaking seas, with some exciting white-water wave piercing.  A typical lack of wind near Tasman Island for about three hours, followed by a rapid change to very nasty 50 knot winds ‘on the nose’ overnight across the aptly named Storm Bay conspired to spoil what was looking like a major race upset for our 20 year old race boat. Being in the top 25 boats to finish across the line was a great effort. And then there is beer!

Being part-sponsored by the genuine Aussie-owned company Coopers Brewery, helps with the after-race partying in Hobart – and kegs of Coopers Pale Ale were flowing for days at the historic Hobart Salamanca Pubs and aboard the boat on New Year's Eve. Does it get better than this? http://www.coopers.com.au/

This is part of my DVD from the final freezing leg into Hobart - arriving to cold Coopers beer at 0600 hours.  Segments of my documentary video were used by 'Rolex World of Sailing TV' and broadcast to around 400 million viewers.  There are 4 segments which I can provide to anyone interested. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgWW9VnVfV8&feature=plcp

Racing today...

STOP PRESS...    OhReally! wins 'Fast Racing - Spinnaker' Div 2 in the 2018 Milang - Goolwa Freshwater Classic

What this does not say is ... it took Mike and crew around 20 years to achieve a first place win in this important South Australian yacht race. Over that time various top Ten, a Second, a Third - all were achievements, but on January 27, 2018 the OhReally! was first boat across Lake Alexandrina to reach Point Sturt and then second boat across the finish line at Goolwa, 5 minutes behind a faster handicap boat after almost 6 hours racing in blistering 40C heat. So exhausted we could barely down more than a few beers! Our crew was Mike, his son Patrick O'Reilly, Gary Shanks and his daughter Tori Young. 

across the line 2nd

   winners m2g 2018   xx champs crowned dus

Mike continues to race on his own Farr 740 Sports as well as crewing with offshore yacht campaigns. They include a Sydney 38 One Design Class yacht with the interesting name 'Asylum'! The boat is owned by Adelaide Surveyor Derek Morrison, who purchased Asylum in Hobart in 2010. His plan - to race locally for a season and then to mount a campaign for the 2012 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - which he successfully achieved. Mike was an active member of the crew for both inshore and offshore race series, providing navigation skills and some muscle for spinnaker trimming and winch grinding. He was shore crew organiser for the Hobart Campaign and provided crew with advice in safety and boat preparation plus crew support in Sydney and in Hobart.  He also assisted the CYCA Rolex Media Team in both Sydney and in Hobart with personally generated media coverage on the human interest side of the race. 

 
Magill, South Australia 5072 Telephone All Hours 0414 882 505