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Talking Heads -

View in ParlView

Sir James Hardy -

He's a descendent of the Commander of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar....perhaps the sea is
in his blood!

PETER THOMPSON: Tonight's guest has lungs full of sea air and fine wine flowing in his veins. Sir
James Hardy is one of Australia's great sailors. He's a world champion, dual Olympian, Admiral's
Cup victor and three times America's Cup challenger. Born into a family wine dynasty, these days,
his name is also synonymous with a popular brand of bubbly.

Jim, welcome to Talking Heads.

JAMES HARDY: Lovely to be with you.

PETER THOMPSON: We should start with a disclaimer, I think. And that is, this is not a story about

JAMES HARDY: Oh, absolutely right. In fact, some of our representatives in Sydney, they won't buy
the Sir James product, because they think I'm the asbestos bloke.

PETER THOMPSON: How many bottles of Sir James bubbly sell?

JAMES HARDY: Oh, quite a number. I won't let Yellowglen or anybody else know exactly how much.

PETER THOMPSON: You did work, of course, in the family wine company, but for a couple of decades
from the Olympics in '64 through to the America's Cup, your life was really sailing.

JAMES HARDY: It was, I called all my boats after either grapes or company products. Promotion in
the wine industry. The wine industry is like the motor industry. There are a lot of cars who'll get
you from A to B.

PETER THOMPSON: You shouldn't say this too loud. You're giving the game away. Let's turn to the
America's Cup. You were, in some respects, the godfather of the win in 1983. Course you'd had the
ignominious story of having sailed through unsuccessful challenges.

JAMES HARDY: That's quite right. In fact, the late Paul Rigby, the cartoonist, he said, "Jim, I'm
getting you into the Guinness Book of Records." I said, "Where do I fit in?" He said, "Nobody has
lost this many America's Cup races in history as you have." I said, "Oh, thanks very much." But
you're right, I think we won a few battles. We finally won the war with Bertrand, John Bertrand and
Co. in '83.

PETER THOMPSON: What were the battles and what was the war? What were the differences between the

JAMES HARDY: The battles were 1970. Up until 1970, the New York Yacht Club, they were the judge,
the jury, the defendant, whatever. They absolutely ran the thing their way.

PETER THOMPSON: They cheated, didn't they?

JAMES HARDY: Well, put it this way, they press the envelope. Is that the right term these days?

PETER THOMPSON: That's very diplomatic of you. Tell me this, I'm not a sailor. What is the thrill?

JAMES HARDY: Probably the motorbike fellas like the wind in their face. I mean, the angle of the
wind on your face, the sparkle of the sun on the north-east waves. The whole scene is euphoric.

Well, I guess it's inevitable that our family got into yachting and were keen on the sea, because
Thomas Masterman Hardy, the captain of Lord Nelson's ship, the Victory and Battle of Trafalgar was
a relative. Thomas Hardy, my great-grandfather, came to South Australia August, 1850. He arrived in
Adelaide and he worked for John Reynell, but they discovered gold at Ballarat. So, of course, being
a 20-year-old, off he went to Ballarat and came back to Adelaide in 1853 with ?500 in his pocket,
and that's when he bought his property and planted grapes. He found that wine was giving him the
best return.

My father was christened Tom Mayfield Hardy. He was doing a postgraduate wine course in Montpellier
in France. At the outbreak of World War One, he came back to Adelaide and enlisted in the 9th Light
Horse and fought against the Turks in Palestine. I was born on 20th November 1932 in our family
home at Seacliff, in South Australia. I have an older brother, Tom, and a second brother, David,
and my sister, Pamela. We spent a lot of our life, really, down at Seacliff, on the edge of St
Vincent's Gulf. So, it was a lovely place to grow up.

This particular spot is very significant to me, because in 1938, as a six-year-old, is where my
mother told me that Dad had just been killed in the Kyeema air crash in Victoria. My father was
with a group of wine men and they flew from Parafield in Adelaide, on 25th October 1938, flying to
Essendon and then they were going on to Canberra. Sadly, through poor navigation, they overshot
Essendon and crashed in fog, into the Dandenong Ranges.

PETER THOMPSON: That remarkable film footage brings home the tragedy of that event.

JAMES HARDY: Yes, it certainly does, Peter. One of my dad's crew told me once, "Jim, if your dad
had been navigating that plane, it never would have happened."

PETER THOMPSON: You're very clear about your mother telling you about that tragedy and the loss of
your dad, but also, a memory of the funeral.

JAMES HARDY: The flowers seemed to go halfway up the street to the railway line and cut flowers
from that day on have never excited me all that much. The smell of cut flowers and the coffin was
in the top bedroom and when I used to stay up, my brother Tom was living there, I used to sleep in
that particular room. I used to, you know, have some strange thoughts a little bit.

PETER THOMPSON: So, young Tom really became the male head of the household, even though he was
still at school.

JAMES HARDY: Oh, unquestionably. He was 14, he sat at the head of the table and carved the evening
meals, carved the meat and he was the boss.

PETER THOMPSON: What were the dynamics of the family, before and after your dad died? For example,
your family friends included the young Rupert Murdoch.

JAMES HARDY: That's right.

PETER THOMPSON: Sir Douglas Mawson and his wife. These are unusual circumstances.

JAMES HARDY: They are, really.

PETER THOMPSON: With this swirling sort of childhood, what are the things that stand out for you
most, in forming your character?

JAMES HARDY: I think the manners that my mother and Madeline and those people. I mean, if a woman
came into a room, you automatically stood up. Women were superior and men were a bit like a lion or
a drone in a beehive. You know, they just were there to keep the class going.

PETER THOMPSON: What you're saying now makes me realise where the term "Gentleman Jim" came from,
which you're often called. But there's this fierce competitiveness too, that actually was to be a
big part of your life. Where did that come from?

JAMES HARDY: Good question. I think probably from the mother. I remember hearing the story when Dad
was killed, Mum's close friends said, "Oh, you should move into a small house. This big house will
be too costly." But Mum said, "Listen, this is the only place my children have a chance of
remembering their father." Didn't show it, but didn't like being beaten.

My father was the founding commodore of the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club in South Australia. He
was commodore from about 1924 until his death in 1938. My earliest memories of my father, I can
remember the varnished pulley blocks of his lovely yacht, Nerida, a 45ft Scottish-designed yacht.
After my father's death, Colin Haselgrove, a close friend and a neighbour, well, he bought Nerida
and rerigged it with a more modern rig and won the classic Sydney Hobart Race in 1950. Nerida was
the only South Australian-built vessel to win the Sydney Hobart Race and that still remains to this
day. We bought the yacht back in 1971 and restored it to the original rig. We've had a lot of fun
in this lovely old yacht.

After my father was killed, Sir James Gosse, and he's Alexander Downer's grandfather, being my
godfather, he said to my mother, "Well, I guess my responsibility is to pay for Jim's education,"
which he did, at St Peter's College in Adelaide, which is a marvellous gesture. I started studying
accountancy. I'd done a bit of bookkeeping at school. The more I got into my accountancy, the more
interested I became, particularly the commercial law side of it. I remember thinking, "Well, if my
father was alive, I think he'd like me to have come into the company." So I joined the company in
1953, the centenary year of Thomas Hardy & Sons.

In 1956, I got married. Married Anne Jackson, Adelaide girl. We had the first son, David, born in
1960, and he's still going strong. But in '63, my son Richard had a cerebral haemorrhage and it
left him with no use of his left arm, like a stroke in an older person, really, and lost pretty
well all of his eyesight.

PETER THOMPSON: Jim, you're not really sure how that accident happened with Richard.

JAMES HARDY: No, no, I think the only thing I can really tie it back to, was a comment from the
Manly Hospital, from the matron, when he was born. She said, "Richard, he had a slight graze."
G-R-A-Z-E. Now, what that means medically, I don't know. But when he was merely a year old, Richard
cried all night. He was, to me, he was really in pain, because he wasn't hungry and he wasn't wet
or dirty or whatever. A couple of days later, I headed off to Tokyo, for the Olympic Games, 1964. I
got the message in Tokyo that he'd had a cerebral haemorrhage. I think he kept pressure to his head
when he was born.

PETER THOMPSON: How did it reshape all of your lives?

JAMES HARDY: Well, it suddenly put me into places like the Royal Blind Society. Suddenly you're
mixing with people that have far worse things happen to their family than happen to Richard. I
think it makes you better adjusted.

PETER THOMPSON: Now I presume you loved the family wine company, but you didn't love it nearly as
much as you love sailing.

JAMES HARDY: (LAUGHS) I certainly never wanted to become a professional sailor. I was only 13, 14,
when I bought my first cadet dinghy and that set me on the path to sailing for life, really. With
Tintara, the sharpie that I built for the Olympic trials in '56, a couple of years later, I was
able to win the national title in Perth in 1959. I went on from there into the international Flying
Dutchman class and my aim was to win the national title. I sailed in the 505 class. It was great,
because we won the first world championship for an international class held in Australia. That was
in 1966. That, I think, set me up for being invited to sail in ocean racing and America's Cup
yachts after that.

PETER THOMPSON: Was it inevitable that you would morph into 12-metre racing? That was becoming a
big deal, there was a lot of money behind it, there was the start of a determination, which was to
last two decades to win the America's Cup. Was it inevitable you'll get involved?

JAMES HARDY: To me, the America's Cup was like Wimbledon is to Federer. It's the top. I hoped and
dreamt one day that I would get there. My father had some beautiful books, one in particular that I
still have, called The Lawson History Of The America's Cup. That's about a poor guy, Thomas Lawson,
from Boston, who absolutely got rubbished by the New York Yacht Club. He wanted to become a
challenger and they basically, in effect, said, "Sorry, mate, you're from Boston." They absolutely
feathered their own nest, time and again.

PETER THOMPSON: When you were taking on the big stuff, well, even the Olympic Games, but what was
to follow, the America's Cup challenges, it was all or nothing, really.

JAMES HARDY: It was too and I think I probably did sail better sailing other people's boats than
sailing my own, because I think I tried a bit harder. When you're sailing for Sir Frank Packer and
Alan Bond later, or Impetuous in the Fastnet Race, the two owners of the boat Impetuous, were
sitting alongside me. You know, you've got to do absolutely the best you can and you're quite
right, that's a bit of angst and pressure. In fact, Peter, one of the best comments made to me,
that really made my mind up, was in the Olympic Games in Mexico, 1968. I was having a beer with
Paul Elvstrom, the world's greatest small-boat yachtsman. I said, "You're leading sail maker in the
world and you've written these great books on sailing. Now, you're going into yacht design and
building." I said, "That's hardly the Corinthian Olympic sort of spirit." He turned to me, he
didn't say a word, then he turned to me and said, "Jim, don't you want to sail against the best in
the world?"

I managed to get the guernsey to be the skipper for Sir Frank Packer's 1970 America's Cup
challenge. We won two races, but we lost one under very acrimonious protest. In another race, we
were leading, and it was called off in the fog. So, we were really making a fight of it and from
that, we got an international jury for future America's Cup. We didn't win the war, but we won the
battle, because in the finish, it was the international committee that cleared Australia to use the
upside-down keel. We were on the track to winning the America's Cup after 1970.

PETER THOMPSON: The challenge, really, took 20 years. It started in the mid-'60s.

JAMES HARDY: Yes, it did.

PETER THOMPSON: It was successful in 1983. What gives one person the edge over another? You've
famously had contests with Dennis Conner, for example.

JAMES HARDY: Yes, Dennis had strengths where I had weaknesses and one particular area was his
judgment of time and distance. He would practise all the time, driving his motorcar. How long is it
going to take me to drive to that next set of traffic lights? He'd hit his stopwatch, but he'd say
to himself, "15 seconds," or something. And if he was wrong, he'd practise again.

PETER THOMPSON: When did you have the edge?

JAMES HARDY: I was always quite happy to have people around me better than I was. I don't think
Dennis was like that. I chose John Bertrand in my crew.

PETER THOMPSON: When you say that, it sounds like you're willing to have your ego under control, to
the extent that you can actually see people as equal or better than you. How big was the Jim Hardy

JAMES HARDY: (LAUGHS) I don't know how you'd measure it. I've certainly always been prepared to
give it a go.

PETER THOMPSON: How much is it like conducting an orchestra?

JAMES HARDY: I think it's very like that. There are 11 in the crew of a 12-metre yacht, same number
in the cricket team, in the Test team. Really keeping the 12-metre crew going in the right
direction is rather like droving mud crabs. There's a lot of pressure. It's like boxing. It's just
very simple, one boat wins, one boat loses. Like the fellow lying on the canvas, everybody knows
he's lost.

After the 1970 America's Cup, I was invited by Alan Bond to join his ocean-racing yacht, Apollo 2
that Bob Miller had designed. He was later to change his name to Ben Lexcen. This was really a
trial horse, to build an aluminium 12-metre for 1974, the Southern Cross, Australia's first
aluminium 12-metre. Sadly, it was a heavy, long yacht with not a lot of sail area and we had such
light winds in '74, we were no match for Courageous, the American yacht. Early in 1983, I got a
call from Alan Bond, to say he was trialling Australia II down at Williamstown in Victoria.
Australia II had many Benny Lexcen's upside-down keel with the wings. Ben had showed me the design,
but we were keeping it under wraps. I went to Newport, as the backup skipper for John Bertrand, and
Bertrand sailed the boat. This is why we won. These recent claims by the Dutch, to me, are false,
because Benny Lexcen employed them to investigate the winglets that they were testing in the tow
intake. Well, here was this boat with its upside-down keel, with all this lower centre of gravity,
well, away she went.

PETER THOMPSON: To be objective about this, what was your contribution during those three
unsuccessful challenges, before you were a team leader of the fourth challenge, which won.

JAMES HARDY: I would say that the single biggest reason that we finally won, I think, was because
we had a crew that had all earnt the right to be there and the thrill I got in 1983, steering
Australia II in some of the elimination races, was that looking down the boat, eight of the guys
had all sailed with me in previous America's Cups. I think all of that glamour of being in
America's Cup had gone and they were all there for one reason and one reason only.

PETER THOMPSON: So, for a sailor, what made it the Holy Grail?

JAMES HARDY: it was just like Mount Everest was for Edmund Hillary, I think.

PETER THOMPSON: When did you see the first chink, that you thought you could?

JAMES HARDY: I think when I saw the stability of Australia II on Port Phillip. For the first time,
the angle of heel of Australia II looked like an American yacht.

PETER THOMPSON: And was that all about the magic of the winged keel?

JAMES HARDY: Absolutely. This was the trick. Ben Lexcen was able to have the smallest 12-metre
allowed, meaning the lightest displacement, 44ft on the waterline. But it meant he could have more
sail area. The thing I enjoyed about it, was that after all that summer, this whole event got down
to one race and we went around the bottom mark, only 20 seconds or something ahead, and won a
battle at the last beat, boats tacking backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.

PETER THOMPSON: It's one of those days, when Australia II did win, that most people can remember
where they were, one of those sort of moments. What's not so well-known is what was going through
Alan Bond's mind and the suggestion that the keel be shown.

JAMES HARDY: That's true. When we came in, almost in darkness, I said, "Alan, you've got to show
the keel." He turned to me and we're just one-on-one, he said, "Jim, I couldn't do that." I said,
"Why?" He said, "No, I'd be showing off." I thought, "I can't believe I've heard what I've heard."

PETER THOMPSON: He's more modest to the rest of the nation, I'm sure.

JAMES HARDY: No, and Rupert Murdoch was standing on the half deck and I told Rupert exactly what
I've just told you. He said, "Oh, I'll get Bondy to." He went straight to Alan Bond, then Alan
stood on the half deck like a composer and said, "The keel." I could see quite clearly he was doing
it for everybody, not Alan Bond.

PETER THOMPSON: After all the effort that went into winning the America's Cup, why did we give it
away so easily?

JAMES HARDY: Partly I blame the Royal Perth Yacht Club and the syndicate, because they came up with
a points system, where it became absolutely obvious very late in the peace, that the fastest
12-metre in Australia in 1986 was Sid Fisher's Sydney boat. They eliminated him, because of the
points system. Now, the Americans would've said, "Thank you very much, Sid Fisher, for your
wonderful boat, but we're going to replace the crew with other people." The Americans just take
over the fastest boat and put the best people on it and win the America's Cup.

PETER THOMPSON: Let's talk about the wine industry for a moment. The prime wine of your company is
named after your mother, Eileen.

JAMES HARDY: That's right.

PETER THOMPSON: Eileen Hardy. How sad was it, for the family to pass up control?

JAMES HARDY: Well, there certainly is a loss, because wine is an artistic venture. It's certainly
an agricultural venture, but it's also artistic. I think that's one of the lovely things about the
wine industry, Peter, that it's very competitive, but at the making level, the winemakers of all
the companies are good mates. They're trying to make better wine than the other fellow down the

Well, our wine company, we did go from strength to strength. In fact, in the 1980s, in a way, we
became a victim of our own success and we merged with Berri Renmano and formed BRL Hardy Limited, a
public company. I was upset that I was the last chairman, but we couldn't continue as a family
company. Even though we lost control of the company, I personally didn't lose control of my life.

One of the great joys was meeting Joan McInnes, who I knew was a quite famous South Australian
model, television presenter, who had moved to Sydney. We became really good friends and we were
married in 1991. Besides our family wine company and my sailing activities, I somehow got involved
with various other community projects, the One & All, the first sail training ship in South
Australia. I was the foundation president. In New South Wales, I was on the board of the HM
Endeavour Foundation. Being a member of the council of the Australian National Maritime Museum,
they made me their patron. I think my obsessive competitive sailing days are behind me, but I do
love going out on Nerida with old mates and sailing, particularly on Sydney Harbour. I mean, it is
just one of the most beautiful waterways in the world. I dream of this old yacht and the parts of
my father that are in the boat.

PETER THOMPSON: What is it about sailing, that is so immense for you?

JAMES HARDY: I think the fact that you're just competing against nature. I think the thing that
I've always enjoyed is trying to have the best performance I can. A lot of people say to me, "Oh,
racing against Dennis Connor or Paul Elvstrom must be a worry." Well, it's not really, because I'm
sailing against Jim Hardy.

PETER THOMPSON: You can recommend a life of wine and sea air, can you?

JAMES HARDY: Absolutely, absolutely.

PETER THOMPSON: Jim, it's been great talking to you. Thank you very much.

JAMES HARDY: Thanks very much, Peter.