Guy Stening, a great sailor most known for winning the Mumm 30 world championships in 2008, passed away on Thursday 10 May.
Today he will be farewelled at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, a venue close to his family and friends, at 2pm, the time of his favourite Wednesday afternoon RPEYC race.
I met Guy Stening when I filled in for his sick bowman at the 2007 Mumm 30 Nationals. I became fast friends with him and his family, Hils, Issy and Sibs as they were all so caring, and enthusiastic about my own passion, sailing.
At the time I was working at the Kirribilli Marina, which was just below where the Stening family was living, and the storage location for Guy’s Mumm 30. I was invited to start racing more permanently, and would often join him to race on Wednesday afternoons. We often had a skeleton crew, just a few friends who loved to go sailing with Guy; sometimes with one or both of the girls. It was a great way to enjoy sailing and the Harbour – with people who just wanted to spend as much time as possible on the water.
I remember one time in January 2008 doing the afternoon Eddies race, and Guy driving me to the station, to jump on a plane to go to Geelong race week. I just made the plane (had to take my luggage on board as carry on), but it was worth it for another race on the Harbour. Guy thought it was awesome!
I would often look after the girls for Guy and Hils, and spend time talking about my sailing adventures with the family, before and after they got home. We all loved to talk sailing.
In 2008 I began sailing with the Wot Chicks, a women’s match racing team lead by Katie Spithill. Two parts of my life joined together, as they often do in sailing. We needed a boat to train on over the winter, and Guy wanted to spend more time working on his skippering. Guy had a goal to win the Mumm 30 World Championships, and I wanted to help him, as well as my team. What resulted was the Wot Chicks, training multiple mornings a week on the Mumm 30 with Guy.
The best memory of these sessions was the morning of the million marks. The Pope was in Sydney, and due to take a Harbour cruise. Maritime had laid countless marks from the Bridge, all the way down to Shark Island to keep the crowds at bay when the time came. For us, in a morning Westerly, it meant that there was a never-ending skills track at our disposal. And boy did we train hard that morning. I idolised Guy’s love of training and his need to progress every session. I always try to do the same.
Guy went on to reach his life goal that year, and win a world championship with his crew on the Mumm 30 Optimumm. The weekend he returned, Guy, Hils, Issy and Sibs helped me christen my brand new Tasar, Coollit, at Balmoral, which went on to win Team Chukkel’s second Tasar worlds. We also celebrated with the Wot Chicks and Optimumm crew at a lunch together, as the family considered us a part of their winning team. Guy and Hilary were always focussed on the team, which was so special, and something I also value.
The last time I sailed with Guy was at the wedding regatta for Nev and Janie Wittey in December 2009. On board was Guy, his daughter Issy, myself and Nev’s daughter Tiana. I have been thinking about that day often in the past week or so. Even short handed, we were both ready to take it on – Guy was never one to say it couldn’t be done.
While he was not here long enough, no one ever is – it serves as a reminder for us all to be careful when we are enjoying the sport that we love. Even if the injury is only minor; life is precious.
Guy’s enthusiasm, smile, work ethic, determination and friendship will be remembered every time I see those flags flying on the Harbour Bridge. If the wind was blowing, he couldn’t wait to be out there – and I know exactly how that feels.
I will forever be a friend to the Stening family, and I wish you many condolences Hils, Issy and Sibs. I will be here whenever you need, on land, or on water.