The Des Townson Story & The 2015 Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition – Part 1

The Des Townson Story & Aristos

Yesterday I was privileged to attend the opening of the 2015 Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition, now if you have been living under a stone & are not aware of this annual event hosted by Tony Stevenson & the Tino Rawa Trust, the concept is simple but a winner. Each year one of our wooden boat designers is profiled & a collection of their craft is assembled & displayed. In recent years profiled designers have been – Jack Brooke & Colin Wild, in 2015 the event celebrates the life & work of Des Townson MNZM. In the nicest way, Des Townson was a freak, every boat from a 2.4m pram dinghy to a 12m cruiser/racer he designed was a work of art. A Townson will always be the prettiest yacht in the bay, their classic styling & purity of form was a winner on launch day & remains so to this day, over 3,500 Townson yachts have been built – that alone is impressive.

Today on ww I have featured Des’s one & only motorboat, Aristos, the 11.4m displacement launch built by Noel May. Tomorrow I will open the flood gates & post photos from the opening function & the fleet of stunning yachts on display at the Viaduct.

The event runs today & tomorrow, between 10am & 4.00pm at the Viaduct, alongside the draw bridge & in front of the old Team NZ base, entry is free & if you are passionate about beautiful boats you need to be there – the collection of craft on & off the water & Townson memorabilia is amazing.

As part of the celebration – the Tino Rawa Trust have produced a glossy journal profiling Des Townson’s life & designs – its available at the exhibition marquee for $20 & this wonderful publication complied by John Macfarlane, has to  be, a must have in your collection. I have two copies to give away to woodys – I’ll make it simple, the first two woodys that correctly name the design of the Townson yacht that was the most popular i.e the most built (excluding the Electron model yachts)- I’ll give you a clue- it shared its name with a popular model of automobile, wins a copy. Because some of you struggle to work out how to use the ww comments section 🙂 I’ll split the prizes – one via email entry at & one via entry in the comments section. You can only enter once 😉

Now Aristos – even with the addition of a flying bridge & her once varnished coamings hidden under battleship grey paint, she is a Townson & that means that no matter what angle you view her, she is simply beautiful. Why only one was built I do not know, maybe there is a story there?

So folks, make your way to the waterfront this weekend & take advantage to this once only exhibition that showcases one of our most successful & talented craftsman.

Now the owner of Aristos, Ray Haydon, is a very clever & talented man with his hands – a wee example of his skills can be seen on the bow of Aristos, Ray has designed & crafted an anchor turner (ensures the anchor is presented correctly when retrieving by winch) – it looks a little like a big bottle opener, but I can assure you it will be ‘fit for purpose’. Rather than paying for the imported Italian ones, someone needs to market Ray’s design 😉

10 thoughts on “The Des Townson Story & The 2015 Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition – Part 1

  1. Don
    I was asking the most built & as I stated in my previous reply the question came from the ‘The Des Townson Story’ booklet (refer below). I used this as the reference point, so I’m not the guilty party here.
    It was only a fun quiz, so don’t be disappointed for too long 😉


  2. A little bit disappointed AH in that your question and answer appear to be wrong. You asked “I’ll make it simple, the first two woodys that correctly name the design of the Townson yacht that was the most popular i.e the most built (excluding the Electron model yachts”. The Zephyr is one of the prettiest yachts and would win a popularity contest competition most times and they are great to sail. But if there are more plans and Starlings built then it must the Starling must be the most built.


  3. There has to have been more Starlings built than Zephyrs. even though the only “official” figures are for the Zephyr. The number of Starlings on the YNZ register would confirm this I suspect.
    Either way, both are magical little boats.


  4. Thanks, Alan. The Zephyr is a typical beautiful Townson design. They all look “just right”!
    My mailing address is:
    M.Lowe, Villa 507, Summerset Retirement Village, 7 Flat Bush School Road, Flat Bush, 2016.
    If the weather is reasonable, I’ll be going to check out the Townson boats tomorrow.
    I and my syndicate partners have a 1978 32-foot Pelin Pastime, moored at the BBYC Marina.
    A wooden hull and cabin top – it’s a real pleasure to work with wood!


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