John has been interested in the Osaka Cup since its inception. Tony Vick owner & skipper of the Adams 13 ‘Scarpa’ asked John to team up with him for the first race, although business commitments prevented him from joining. John has had a long association with Japan through his Father who visited Japan many times through his business interests and brought the food culture home with him. As a family they enjoyed many Japanese dishes and heard wonderful stories of Japan and its wonderful hospitality and the exotic culture of its people. In the late nineties John met and later married a lovely Japanese lady and has since made several trips to Japan.
John has had a long association with ‘Utopia’ or ‘The Ute” as he affectionately refers to her. He first stepped aboard her in Darwin (after she had been trucked up from Warnambool where she was built) as her delivery skipper to the Gold Coast in 1990 and continued as her skipper for many years before purchasing her in 1999. John circumnavigated Australia on ‘The Ute’ in 1993 and believes she is eminently suitable for the Osaka Cup.
John has won many podium positions in many ocean yacht races and regattas from Hobart to Ambon over a sailing career which started as a child cruising Moreton Bay and racing dinghies. John has completed 19 Brisbane to Gladstone’s, 12 Sydney to Mooloolabas, three Sydney to Hobarts, a couple of Noumea races and a Trans-Tasman crossing as well as most regatta’s on the Eastern seaboard several times, not to mention tens of thousands of miles up and down the East Coast of Australia, cruising and delivering all shapes and sizes of yachts and motor vessels.
John has no delusions about winning this race, having said that he has purchased a full set of new sails including a full size asymmetric spinnaker that he reckons will pull them through the doldrums in good shape. From experience he knows that to win a yacht race you firstly have to get to the start line. The next major goal is the finish line and if you pay attention and the wind gods are with you anything can happen in a race like this.
John has given ‘The Ute’ a major refit and ticked of all the things on his wish list and yes, they will be having hot showers and roast dinners as well as lots of sashimi they hope. Following the race he hopes to spend the rest of 2018 cruising the coast of Japan and then head off to Alaska and the West coast of the States to join in the 50th Trans Pac in 2019.
Joining John as co-skipper on “The Ute” is Steve Evans. At 62, Steve is starting yacht life a tad late as he puts it. Cutting his teeth in the marine industry over the past 30 years, Steve has been involved in propeller design and applications for outboard stern drives and shaft drives and is best known in yachting circles for distribution and sales for ” kiwi prop” feathering propellers as exclusive Australian distributor.
Steve has a marine background. His father was a boat builder, and his grandfather a pioneer of the boat transport industry on the Sunshine Coast in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. As a child Steve enjoyed sabot racing on the Maroochydore River, later joining the navy as a junior recruit in Western Australia in 1971. Steve served on HMAS Brisbane and HMS Intrepid.
Steve also has connections with Japan, with a Japanese wife and son, and “digs” at Tochigi (north of Tokyo). He has strong business connections in Osaka and likes to promote sustainable recreational fishing techniques.
The Osaka Cup is a bucket list personal challenge for him. Learning the ropes from Fletch, faith in ‘the Ute’ and being at the mercy of the wind, currents and weather will take him out of his comfort zone and has inspired confidence that he can undertake the journey as co-skipper to be part of the adventure.