This wooden bowl was presented to Captain John Illingworth, skipper of the yacht RANI, by the Royal Hobart Regatta Association for winning the inaugural Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race in 1945. The bowl is made from a variety of Tasmanian timbers. It was a presentation piece to Illingworth, not the winner's trophy. The Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race has become a classic annual sailing event in the Australian and the international sporting calendar. The course covers a distance of 1,170 kilometres starting in Sydney Harbour and finishing on the Derwent River at Hobart, Tasmania. The inaugural race was held in 1945 with RANI being the first yacht to take out the competition in the time of six days, 14 hours and 22 minutes. Today the race attracts extensive media coverage and sponsorship of the vessels.
RANI was a 35-foot double-ended yacht designed by Arthur Barber and built in Sydney. For the 1945 inaugural Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race RANI’s skipper Captain John Illingworth commanded a crew of young Royal Navy officers and local amateur yachtsmen. RANI is the smallest yacht to ever win the race.
The event began in an off-the-cuff fashion. In the latter part of World War II sailors on Sydney Harbour formed the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) to promote cruising and a casual races in lieu of those suspended during the war. At the end of the war three of the members Jack Earl, Peter Luke and Bert Walker planned a cruise to Hobart. One evening Commander John Illingworth gave a talk to members, and afterwards Peter Luke suggested Illingworth might like to join the cruise. Illingworth's reply was ‘I will, if you make a race of it’. This sparked a reaction, as noted in the Australian Power Boat and Yachting Monthly of October 10, 1945.