Home' Afloat : AFLOAT May 2014 Contents 60 AFLOAT.com.au May 2014
This summer saw the passing of
another of Sydney’s colourful and
congenial sailing identities. John
‘Kinky’ Kinsella sailed the waters of Sydney
Harbour, Pittwater and much of the east
coast of Australia, cruising and racing with
friends and family through his entire life.
Born in 1933, John’s love of sailing
began with the model yachts he built and
sailed on the pond of his family home
in Killara. As a teenager in the 1940s he
started dinghy sailing with his VJs Albatross
and Radar and the sail #5, honing his skills
alongside John Lingard and Harold and
Les Vaughan in the formative years of the
Avalon Sailing Club.
He graduated to fixed keels, racing the
Olympic class Stars for a short while before
acquiring his first yacht, a double-ended
sloop, and then a Bluebird on which he
entertained his (soon to be) young bride
Janette Peach in the 1950s.
John completed his National Service
in the Navy, achieving the rank of sub-
lieutenant and continued with the Naval
Reserve for a number of years. He married
Jan in 1959 and together they started a
family and business and a successful
marriage of 54 years. He balanced family
and business life with an avid pursuit of
motor sport and sailing in equal measure.
He ensured that with every boat,
cruising with his family and friends was
as important as racing.
In 1966 he bought the Wally Ward
designed Jasnar from Jack Parker, which he
raced from RPAYC, with his brother Philip,
As he aged, he looked forward to the
occasional sail and a few beers with close
friends such as Brian ‘Noddy’ Wilson,
especially on Gaffers Day.
Dementia gradually took hold of John
during his later years, but he maintained
his sense of humour and independence
right up until his admission to hospital in
2012. During his battle with the ailments
that took hold in his final months, he
gained great pleasure from seeing his
family continue to enjoy sailing without
him. John delighted in knowing his
daughter Cathy is now a regular crew
member of the beautifully restored Gretel
II almost 40 years after he sailed her.
John was a part time poet, occasionally
putting pen to paper to honour the passing
of a friend or a loved one or simply to
comment on life’s curious moments, some
in years gone by.
John passed away on 5th December
2013 at age 80. His love of sailing became
a lasting legacy among his children, all of
whom continue to sail.
He is survived by his wife Jan, and his
children Chris, Jen, Cathy and Ian.
JOHN ‘KINKY ’ KINSELLA
SAILOR, MOTOR RACER AND POET
father-in-law Harold Peach, brother-in-law,
Rex Atkin and friend, Brian Post. After
selling Jasnar to Philip (who then took her to
Hobart in 1971) he purchased a Clansman
which saw him once again sailing under
his favoured sail number #5.
This was soon followed by the 42ft
Syonara, which continues to grace Sydney
Harbour today, regularly sailing from her
berth at the CYCA under the ownership
and care of Greg Maughan.
Of all the yachts John owned and raced
over the years, his most notable was the
fi a n in which he tackled three
Sydney-Hobart races and numerous
Sydney-Brisbane races throughout the
1970s, with a colourful and capable crew
including Brian Smith, Patrick O’Rourke,
Taffy Rowlands, Philip Wright, Grant Heard,
Mike King, Robbie Johnson, Ian McQueen,
Mike Downman, Ian Alfonso, John Gleeson
and many others.
John’s reputation as a skilled helmsman
kept him busy sailing and skippering for
his many friends throughout the 1980s,
including stints on Gretel II with Gordon
Ingate, Constellation/Battlestar and Mercedes
V, as well as regular seasons at MHYC
skippering an Elan 31 for Barry and Vellela
John continued sailing and exploring
the waterways of Sydney through his
retirement, often enjoying the tranquillity
of Cowan Creek or sailing at SASC aboard
the couta boat Sylvia (owned by his brother
Philip) and the Adams 10 Torquil owned by
son-in law Peter McCorquodale.
Ruffian in Storm Bay during the 1976
Sydney to Hobart Race.
John on the helm of Ruffian during the 1976 Sydney to Hobart Race.
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