Home' Afloat : AFLOAT September 2017 Contents Take monthly with water September 2017 47
The yachting fraternity is unique. It is filled to overflowing
with wonderful characters.
None quite so unique as Graeme Ernest ‘Frizzle’
Freeman who at 71 cast off at 0300 hours on 10 July, leaving his
beautiful wife, Katherine and young son, Lewis, 17, who all lived
happily together in Orford overlooking the awesome east coast
of Tasmania to Maria Island and beyond. It was just yesterday
that so many of us celebrated his wedding 19 years ago at the
Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania
Throughout Australia and around the world of yachting he
was known simply as Frizzle. He was born and raised in Hobart
and commenced his sailing life out of the Derwent Sailing Club
at the age of 10.
He was destined for bigger things in the fledgling business
of offshore racing.
“I got him his first Nigel [boatman] job on the One Tonner
Maria for my business partner Des Cooper,” said Incat founder
and boss, Robert ‘Beanhead’ Clifford.
He became a champion on the water, a sailor first and then
a yachtsman who, in his late teens moved to Sydney accepting
a ride with Beanhead aboard his fishing boat.
Frizzle worked as a casual hand around the Cruising Yacht
Club of Australia where he met Rick Dowling who employed
him as his Nigel aboard the beautiful Sparkman and Stephen’s
design, 46ft sloop Queequeg.
He was a man of the ocean. He was at home on the sea, his
comfort zone was ocean racing. He became a master of his craft.
He understood the sea and its elements, the weather and its
vagaries. He learnt his trade. He knew his boats and he was well
regarded. Frizzle was in demand as a sailing master, helmsman,
a boat builder and a project manager.
He was a good bloke who never wasted his words. Gruff at
times but a softie at heart. He called a spade a shovel. He didn’t
say much but when he did you listened. He was right most of the
time. If wrong it took a while for him to accept his fault.
Frizzle was well liked though he chose his friends carefully.
Crews enjoyed racing with him. He didn’t like a lot of people
though many did like him. He had a great sense of humour. A
yachtsman, sometime golfer, passionate Geelong supporter and
master of the one-liner.
Graeme Freeman gave so many a start in the business of
big boat ocean racing. Like Peter Gardner and the late Colin
Bloomfield who he brought to the Bumblebee IV campaign delivering
the new maxi yacht to Fort Lauderdale thence to New York and
Rhode Island for the Newport to Bermuda Race in which she
took line honours for John Dieter ‘Ziggy’ Kahlbetzer in 1979;
Greg ‘Grogo’ Gilliam on Bumblebee 2; Andrew ‘Steak’ Copley; and
Gary Linnacre who he asked to join him aboard Bumblebee 3 in
England in 1976.
Freeman joined Stan Edwards aboard the beautiful S&S
Margaret Rintoul II, formerly the first Ragamuf fin, and in 1978 finished
second to Peter Kurts’ Love and War in the very slow Hobart Race
that same year. This was the beginning of a lifelong yacht racing
and sailing friendship.
At Mona Vale
in 1979 he project
managed the new
German Frers design
maxi yacht Bumblebee
IV along with boat
builder Mike ‘Plumb’
Taylor. In 1981/82 he
was tactician on the
12 America’s Cup
campaign backed by
Visy Board founder Richard Pratt and a syndicate of Victorian
He introduced Duncan Van Woerden to Jack Rooklyn’s Apollo
in 1976, an association Van Woerden enjoyed for eight years. In
1985 Frizzle co-skippered with Warwick Rooklyn the mighty Ben
Lexcen design maxi Apollo, known affectionately as the ‘Gherkin’
to a stunning Sydney to Hobart line honours.
German Frers appointed Frizzle and his mate, Steve Bull
from the Gippsland Lakes, as his Australian representative.
His amazing career flourished further when he joined Frers
as project manager of the Il Moro de Venezia America’s Cup
Challenge in 1992 for Italian industrialist, Raul Gardini. He
went on to Sweden with Frers to manage the new 60ft Swan
build, Highland Fling. Later he rejoined the Edwards family’s new
Margaret Rintoul IV campaign and then Max Ryan’s Frers design,
50ft ocean racer, Cyclone.
In Perth in 1986/87 Frizzle joined Iain Murray in the Kevin
Parry backed Kookaburra America’s Cup campaign in Fremantle
with the ultimate prize being won by Dennis Conner who four
years earlier lost sporting’s oldest trophy to Alan Bond’s Australia
II off Newport, Rhode Island.
In all Frizzle managed three America’s Cup campaigns and
several Admiral’s Cup teams. He sailed the challenging Hobart
race 27 times winning line honours five times, however handicap
honours always eluded him.
Life was something Frizzle grabbed with both hands. He
squeezed it for every precious moment. He pursued his love of
ocean racing and his passion for the sea and all that it could
throw at him. His was a life best spent.
Graeme Ernest ‘Frizzle’ Freeman is a true Australian yachting
legend who will be forever revered. At the Derwent Sailing club on
Sandy Bay, 350 guests gathered to celebrate the life and passing
of this iconic member of Aussie yachting folklore.
For those of us who had the privilege and pleasure of knowing
the man there will always be somewhere in the back of our minds,
be it at the bar, on the boat, on the golf course, in the boatshed
or watching Geelong go round the ground, a niggling of the great
“ Youse bastards can’t sail.”
Yep Frizzle, it’s our wally and here’s cheers to you. You will
live in our hearts and minds forever.
h Patrick ‘Tenpin’ Bollen
GRAEME ‘FRIZZLE’ FREEMAN
OCEAN RACING SKIPPER, BOAT BUILDER
AND MASTER OF THE ONE-LINER
Graeme Freeman (left) with Peter Kurts.
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