The Frostbite – Corsair

photos by Alan H 

At the recent Classic Yacht and Launch Exhibition  at the Viaduct, the 2013 event  showcased the acclaimed designers Jack Brooke & Bob Stewart. One of the outstanding boats on display was Paul Baragwanath’s exquisitely restored Frostbite ‘Corsair’, the attention to detail was just amazing, even featuring her original restored 1945 trailer. Corair was built by Jack Brooke in 1945 for Don Winston.

02-02-2018 Input from Paul Baragwanath

“She was built in 1946 for my grandfather, Don Winstone, and named after the planes he flew in WWII. The Frostbite class was designed in 1938 by Jack Brooke, and Corsair was built by him too. A few years back I tracked her down – derelict, but pretty much whole, in Nelson. We knew it was Corsair from the name let / inlaid into the middle thwart and the Corsair aeroplane profile in the for’d thwart. Teak in Kauri. Kauri hull. Oregon spars. Pohutukawa knees. Mahogany cappings. Teak and kauri floor grate. Australian hardwood rudder stock and kauri rudder. Kahikatea centre-board (from her time in the Waikato?). Mahogany mast supports. Brian Kidson who had owned did a good deal of work preparing and restoring the hull before she came north to Auckland for the woodwork to be completed by Jack’s son, master wooden boatbuilder Robert Brooke.

We restored the chrome hardware (Onehunga Electro Platers / Bumper Repairs – brilliant), re-created missing elements (Morris Sheet Metal and another engineer) including the lettering on the stern, restored the original 1946 mast, Frank Warnock created a traditional sail by hand, and I did the low-skill bits, and brought it all together. Ropes from Classic Marine in the UK. Other parts from Harken Fosters.

Robert designed a period road trailer with 1939 pressed steel Standard 10 wheels that I found on Trademe (Marlborough Sounds), and a friend who is a sculptor, David McCracken, made the trailer. I believe the Frostbite was NZ’s first specifically-designed trailer class – with it’s split / gunter rig – so a period trailer and launching trolley are part of it. It was the last class designed that you sit in, rather than on.

Robert’s lifetime of experience and eye resulted in what you can see – from the handmade wooden blocks, fine plank lines, floating thwarts, the traditional flick-bailer, right up to the pheasant feather pennant / wind vane atop the mast.

The colour is Eau de N’il – Water of the Nile – with a forest green waterline. My grandfather liked green – he also had a runabout named Amber (1950s 17 foot Greymarine engine) with a green waterline. Traditional white below the waterline. The interior is white house-paint up to the thwarts which sets off the varnish above that.

We don’t tend to race – wooden blocks, wooden grate, 1946 mast and rudder… but do sail off Narrowneck in Auckland, and Tutukaka, Ngunguru and Whangaumu Bay up north.

I put together a small book on the restoration – a few years ago now. The aim was to get her to A level condition – which we did, and she won the best restoration at the Lake Rotoiti (Nelson) classic boat show – and then to just enjoy her. She’s a delight to sail. Predictable, responsible and beautifully balanced. On the wind in a chop a for’d hand is useful for bailing!”


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