Australian sailing coach Michael Blackburn's cap washes up on Birubi Beach after 100km voyage, now reunited with his cap collecting mum

REUNITED: Amanda Sutherland (right) returns Michael Blackburn's cap to his mum, Judy Cresp, from Salamander Bay.
REUNITED: Amanda Sutherland (right) returns Michael Blackburn's cap to his mum, Judy Cresp, from Salamander Bay.

The mystery behind the Australian Sailing Team cap found washed up on Birubi Beach has been solved.

The cap, with the nickname 'Blackers' handwritten on the inside, has been reunited with its owner, prolific sailor Michael Blackburn, following what is believed to be a 100km sea journey.

The Examiner reported last week how prolific Anna Bay community waste collector Amanda Sutherland had discovered the white cap - emblazoned with an 'Australian Sailing Team' inscription, a yellow and green sail design and the Southern Cross featured on the front - while collecting rubbish off the beach.

"I was sifting through clumps of seaweed that had been washed up onto Birubi Beach about half a kilometre from the surf club when I noticed the cap in among food wrappers and plastics," Ms Sutherland said.

"I decided to take it home and soon realised it had the slightly faded hand-written name 'Blackers' on the inside. I Googled the name and realised that it most likely belonged to Michael Blackburn."

Mr Blackburn, a three-time Olympian and bronze medalist who went on to become the Australian sailing national lead coach, was alerted of the find through Australia Sailing.

An enthusiastic boatie who has sailed all over the world, Mr Blackburn told the Examiner that he had lost a number of caps over the years while out on the high seas and it was no great surprise to have one wash up on the beach.

"I am fairly confident this was lost back in December when I was out sailing on the Swansea Channel off Lake Macquarie," he said.

"I would say it has been swept out to sea and carried by the northern currents all the way to Anna Bay. That's probably a 90km-100km journey."

COLLECTION: Judy Cresp's collection of her son's caps, hats and jackets, with Amanda Sutherland.

COLLECTION: Judy Cresp's collection of her son's caps, hats and jackets, with Amanda Sutherland.

Due to sailing commitments, Mr Blackburn - now living in Sydney - was eager to reunite with the mystery cap and put us in touch with his mum, Judy Cresp, who lives in Salamander Bay, and who happens to be a keen collector of her son's headwear and jackets.

Ms Cresp is very proud of her son's achievements.

"He has been sailing all over the world, he became the first person to sail Bass Strait in a laser [in 2005] and has had a book published. He also has a PhD in sports science."

She said that COVID had forced Michael to turn to online training sessions which are beamed across the world, predominantly in Europe.

"At first he tried to blame me for the missing cap, suggesting that I had lost one of my collection, but of course he was joking. I do love the water but I prefer to go to Salamander than fight the traffic and parking issues at Birubi."