Peter Luke, founder of the CYCA and competitor in the first Sydney-Hobart, dies aged 92

Peter Luke, co-founder of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), died on 23 September, aged 92.

Peter began his boating career at a very young age. He was given an 8ft dinghy with a 1hp outboard motor as a child, but it wasn’t long before Peter had converted it – with a sugar bag for a sail, hung off a broomstick for a mast. In the ensuing years he graduated from dinghies to keelboats, culminating with the launching of his Alden-designed 41ft yawl,Wayfarer, in 1942.

In 1944 Peter co-founded the CYCA with his friend Charlie Cooper, and in June that year a group of eight yachtsmen met at Monte Luke’s studio in Castlereagh Street and conducted the first meeting. The fact that the club’s intended cruise from Sydney to Hobart became a race is now well known. In May 1945, British naval officer Commander John Illingworth addressed a meeting of the club, and when asked to join a planned cruise to Hobart is alleged to have said “Why don’t we make a race of it?” The rest is history. Peter Luke set a record in that race that still stands today – the longest-ever time to finish the 628 nautical mile course, 11 days 6 hours 20 minutes.

Peter gave up a career in photography in the mid-1960s and for several years held a number of jobs in the marine industry before retiring about 1975 to Port Stephens with his second wife Monnie and Wayfarer, living aboard the yacht while they found a place to live. He is survived by Monnie, and her daughter Pauline, his first wife Betty, and their two children Lindy and Roland.