photos above & details ex Greg Lees & John Macfarlane (Boating NZ)
Today’s post features Greg Lees restored classic runabout (she has no name), one of a small fleet of these cool British craft in NZ. In their day these we very chic boats, the owners list was a real who’s who – Prince Rainer of Monaco, Prince Phillip, Stirling Moss & even the bombshell Bridget Bardot.
The story starts back in the UK c.1949 when two engineers, Archie Peace & Peter Hives set up a company named ‘Albatross Marine’ to design & build a small runabout, called the Albatross. They had great credentials with Hives the son of a Rolls Royce director & Peace an aeronautics engineer. Post WWII there was no shortage of aluminum so given Peace’s plane background the chosen build material was alloy.
They initially built two versions – the Mk1 was a 2 seater sports, powered by a marinised Ford 100E side-value Prefect 1172cc engine & the Mk2 which had twin carbs (SU’s) for more zoom. Later on a Mk3 was launched with even more zoom. A 4 seater, called the Continental was also marketed, powered Mk1= 100E motor, Mk2 = Ford Kent 1500cc 60hp motor. The last 150 built had a 88hp Coventry Climax engine.
Come the 1960’s that evil substance that starts with F & has the word glass at the end was entering the boating scene & even though they tried other models, the company folded in the mid 1960’s.
The Auckland agent was Campbell Motors & they sold approximately a dozen boats, most as hire boats at the Lake Okataina Lodge.(Rotorua) This was not a great success & the fleet was broken up & sold to other hire operators – Hinehopu (Lake Rotoiti), Rotorua & Queenstown.
Now back to Greg Lees , who owns the very classic friendly boat yard Lees Marine at Sandspit. Greg bought his Albatross in 1990 & the Lees family used extensively her for many years. Fast forward to the year 2000, Greg & daughter Rosie (talented lady – search her name on ww) started a full restoration, including rebuilding the 100E engine. The restoration took a few years (12 in fact) & since then the boat has been doing the rounds of the classic wooden boat lake events – both North & South Island Lake Rotoiti.
These boats are highly collectable in the UK with less than 100 left a float. Greg’s business has also completed a restoration on another Albatross for a kiwi classic boating client.
The photos below I took at the 2015 Lake Rotoiti Wooden Boat Parade (Nth Is.), Greg’s Albatross must be the smallest powerboat to fly the RNZYS burgee 🙂