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Motor Cycle RacingWhat doesn't kill you makes you strong ~ as they say.

As a teenager I told my parents that having a motorcycle would save me money on public transport costs! With that done, I got involved with motorcycle club activities, was appointed the first modern era Motorcycle Editor and test rider for The Advertiser, enjoying long distance touring and ultimately to the racetrack - motorcycle circuit racing in multiple classes over a decade - but then switched to sailing "as a relaxing hobby" - and then to racing yachts in my mid 30's. 

It took a decade to learn how to sail properly ...not swim. Mike is an experienced yacht racing sailor who sailed with his son and regular crew on his Farr740 Sports boat named "Oh Really!" ~ but has been a crewman, navigator & trimmer on larger ocean racing boats.

A late starter, he took up sailing 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 on yachts like 'Doctel Rager', 'Pale Ale Rager', 'Santana 3', 'Ca Va' and 'Asylum', he still has dreams of a ‘bigger’ and faster yacht of his own. Come on X Lotto!

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 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 finally, the 'Big One' - the S2H on Australia's Boxing Day.

In December 2008 Mike achieved a long time quest to race in the "Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race".  After six years of racing in SA waters aboard the 56 ft racing yacht ‘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 big swells off the Continental Shelf between Kangaroo Island and King Island in Bass Strait. On the way we broadcast Media Reports to ABC Radio 891 Adelaide, regardless of the conditions! Because we were not racing, the skipper wisely chose to head in to 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, so a job done early. When the hardy Portland fishermen said it was good to go - we left for the next 660 miles to Sydney. And left them some extra Coopers Beer. Did I mention the close proximity lightning strike near Jervis Bay! So close that it 'fried' some of the electronics on the mast.

Q: How do you describe an sports event that changes lives ~ for good ...or bad?  When you exit Sydney Heads, the sky buzzing with TV helicopters, the cliffs lined with tens of thousands of spectators, picking your way through hundreds of jostling spectator boats ...and then 'turn right' to go South to Tasmania - there's 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 Hobart docks after just 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.  Only 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! Days of it.

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. It rarely gets better than this  http://www.coopers.com.au/

Go to this link to see the final segment of my DVD from the sunrise arrival 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. Rolex marketing people are so professional.  

There are 4 segmentsof my Sydney-Hobart DVD which I can provide to anyone interested. 


Some of my on-board footage was used in the Official Film:  2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race film   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnafbLrritI

Racing ongoing...

STOP PRESS...    OhReally! wins 'Fast Racing - Spinnaker' Div 2 in the 2018 Milang - Goolwa Freshwater Classic   / And again in 2019!

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 Tens, a Second, a Third - all were achievements, but on January 27, 2018 the OhReally! team was first boat across Lake Alexandrina to reach Point Sturt and then second boat across the finish line at Goolwa, a few 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 at the club bar! 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

We repeated the Milang Goolwa double win in 2019 and then a Third Place in 2020. With a second place in 2022, the decision was made to sell the 'OhReally!' after a job well done. 

Mike continues to sail on a smaller skiff yacht to keep his hand in the game.  And he has returned to a collection of motorcycles that now includes a classic from 1985, the two-stroke Yamaha RZ250R - an exhillarating ride guranateed!



Magill, South Australia 5072 Telephone All Hours 0414 882 505