“Their record performance in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race is unlikely ever to be broken and highlights their unquestioned distinction in boat building, yacht design and ocean yacht navigation.”
Trygve (1920-2014) and Magnus Halvorsen (1918-2015) are among the most successful ocean racers ever to have sailed out of Australia. Their record performances in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race are unlikely to be broken and stand beside their unquestioned distinction in boat building, yacht design and ocean racing navigation.
Trygve joined the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in its infancy in 1946 and later served on the Board of Directors and as Rear Commodore from 1953 to 1954. Magnus joined in 1947 and had an active role on the Safety Committee. Both brothers became members of Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1952 having crewed there as teenagers in the 1930s.
The brothers were true pioneers of what was to become modern-day boat designing, with their boats achieving great success particularly in the Sydney Hobart yacht race with five overall wins (1954 Solveig, 1957 Anitra V, 1963, 64 and 65 Freya) and five second-place finishes.
Their first ocean racer Saga finished second place in the 1946 Sydney to Hobart and their second yacht Peer Gynt, an 11-metre double-ender, took third in 1947 and two successive firsts in the 1948 and 1949 Trans-Tasman races.
The Halvorsens found great success in their next yacht, Solveig. With Trygve as chief designer, a lighter boat was crafted with a separate rudder and shorter keel. The rewards were immediate with a win in the 1951 Trans-Tasman race and line honours (2nd on corrected time) in the 1953 Sydney to Hobart.
The design of Solveig progressed to Anitra V and then changed direction with Freya. The yacht had a vertical rudder and long straight keel. It chalked up an impressive Sydney to Hobart race record – a hat-trick of successive firsts on handicap from 1963-1965.
Freya was in Australia’s first team to challenge for the Admiral’s Cup in England in 1965, all contributing to Magnus and Trygve being awarded the title of AMPOL Australian Yachtsman of the Year in 1965/66. Magnus went on to win the Sydney to Hobart race again in 1974 as the navigator on Love & War, and took line honours twice, in 1971 on Kialoa II and in 1975 on Kialoa III.
Outside their feats in the Sydney to Hobart, the brothers in 1961 and 1962 also became involved in the first Australian challenge for the America’s Cup, with both crewing on Gretel, built by the Halvorsen firm.
The legacy of the brothers who designed, built, operated, and ultimately won on a global level is unparalleled. Their designs have stood the test of time, with their boats Anitra V and Solveig winning the CYCA Great Veterans race in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
See more from the Halvorsens at the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Collection.