Eight Bells: Peter Campbell

Published on September 2nd, 2020

One of Australia’s longest-serving sports writers, the yachting correspondent and commentator Peter Campbell, died at 89 years in Hobart on September 1, 2020.

Peter wrote for Hobart’s The Mercury newspaper for the past 10 years and was a regular contributor to the many media outlets, filing his final story only last week.

Peter’s knowledge of local, national, and international sailing was vast. He was Media Director for the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (1991-2005), Editor-at-Large and then Editor for Offshore Yachting (1971-2006), and Editor for Modern Boating (1975-1982). Peter had been a member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (since 1984), Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (1991-2009), and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (since 1977).

Born at Beauty Point in Northern Tasmania, Peter began work as a journalist with The Mercury from 1946-48 before relocating to Sydney as a senior reporter for the rural newspaper, The Land, and then became news editor and feature editor for 13 years. His first involvement in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race dates back to 1946 when he began covering the race as a cadet reporter at the Mercury.

Peter then established his own writing consultancy specializing in yachting. He reported on all major national sailing championships as well as international events, including several America’s Cups and Admirals Cups, and the Atlanta 1996, Barcelona 1992, Seoul 1988, Los Angeles 1984, and Sydney 2000 Olympics.

In Tasmania, his writing gave a special profile to racing on the Derwent involving the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron, and Bellerive Yacht Club, and the long-distance coastal races including the Westcoaster, and Launceston to Hobart races, as well as the Three Peaks race. In 2014, Peter received an Order of Australia Medal for services to yachting as a journalist.

While he lived in Sydney, Peter took great pride in racing Hornblower, the Bonbridge 27 he owned in partnership with the late John Ivimey, the pair winning the RSYS’s pointscore a couple of times during the eighties.

He enjoyed a fulfilled life, leaving no stone unturned.

Peter and his wife Sarah returned to Tasmania to supposedly retire, in Sandy Bay in 2006. However, he brought with him a great love of sailing and the sea, begun as a boy on the Tamar River, a passion that continued throughout his life and meant he kept working.

A past Commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Biddy Badenach said he was saddened by the news that Peter has died.

“During my 27 years involvement with the Hobart Sydney Yacht Race, I have met many people and have become friends one such person was Peter Campbell. He was a true gentleman, an outstanding reporter, and was highly respected by his peers and sailors. After moving to Hobart, his contribution to news on yachting in Tasmania was first class. He will be sadly missed by all who were associated with him.”

Peter is survived by his wife Sarah, sons Timothy and Jonothan, and their partners Margot and Hannah. Our sympathies are with him at this time. – Craig Macaulay

Peter’s funeral details will be advised in due course.

Editor’s note: The only work from Peter that Scuttlebutt was privileged to publish was, coincidentally, a masterful Eight Bells tribute for Magnus Halvorsen. Sail on!

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