Harbourmaster Tribute Run
Sunday, January 29 2012 @ 08:36 PM CST
Contributed by: Admin
At 8am, in Stephenís backyard, 31 boats and skiers congregated off North Head to follow a path up the coast to Lion Island. And back. That exact 50 mile journey is the training choice for many of the Robertson family. After completing the course, there are many of us who now understand that skiing in the unforgiving ocean, is one of the ingredients that makes the Robertson Family the mentally rich family that they are.
A robust mental state of mind is but one ingredient to make a champion like Stephen Robertson. Without world class ability, mental strength would deliver only part of the result. Regularly skiing behind a single engine outboard, on a short ski, up or down the NSW coast, is what developed Stephen into the mentally historic and champion skier we remember him as.
On a couple of occasions previously, Stephen invited those who rated themselves, to make the run with him. The very first invite brought the best of the best to his playground, and from that day in October 2009, the offshore training events became a massive talking point and created a thirst among skiers for more runs like it.
Reports in the days leading up to the Harbour Master Tribute were that the ocean would be kind, and while she didnít stand up on both her back legs, the ocean gave us a definitive insight as to what she was made of. For those who put both feet into a ski that day, or sat in a drivers or observers seat, were very quickly reminded of how this wasnít an ordinary rodeo. This was going to be tough. Just the way it was supposed to be.
Once the WC9901 tribute flag was dropped all 31 boats aimed for Lion Island. Included in the field were past and present world champions, regular super class and unlimited skiers, weekend warriors, and genuine friends and supporters of the tribute. Everyone completed the journey. Chris Stout took the flag in a little over 50 minutes, and Brock McMillan, age 11, crossed the line in a little over 2 hours.
A truly humbling moment was to watch the one that Stephen rated the most come over the line. Tracey Robertson, our hats go off to you for so many reasons.
From 70 foot princesses to 19 foot signatures, support boats bobbed around the ocean, paying tribute to a legend of our sport. Most spectators and participating crews returned to the Watsons Bay Hotel to spin yarns of the gruelling 50 mile session. Stephenís biggest supporters, his Family, joined everyone at the Hotel where, bravely, Mr & Mrs Robertson presented the participants with a speech that brought the crowd to its knees. Itís not easy to get a ski race crowd quiet, especially when at a bar, but when Mr Robertson spoke, the entire place listened. It was with the greatest respect that all in attendance took in what was said.
While we discuss and de-brief how we can make this an annual tribute, a sincere thank you is pointed at the entire Robertson Family for allowing so many of us to pay homage. While we were out there on the water, we never lost sight of why we were there. There are many more people who need thanks, but the most important thanks needs to go to Stephen himself. Itís a thank you for starting the offshore training days. Itís a thank you for showing us how to become champions. Itís a thank you for inviting us to your backyard.
Never forgotten Ė WC9901.
words by Alex Ross