Auckland Anniversary Day Classic Regatta – Launch Race + Video of Mahurangi Regatta A Division Start

1st Across The Line – Kaikoura

Auckland Anniversary Day Classic Regatta – Launch Drag Race

Monday saw 10 classic launches brave the inner harbour conditions to contest the annual round the bouys, jandal to the floor romp, to see  who has the most slippery haul or deepest pockets (big engine and fuel). There is a handicap system but let’s not kid ourselves – its first across the line that gets the glory. This year Kaikoura claimed the honours. Photos from Nick Davidson onboard his woody – Juanita, parked off the harbour port rounding mark close to Orakei Wharf.
LINE: 1. Kaikoura 2. Fleetwing 3. My Girl HANDICAP: Fleetwing > Kaikoura > Paika > My Girl > Cindy Jane > Callisto > Waikaro > Kumi > Laughing Lady > Shearwater (Full details below)

Some people take this race very seriously, earlier in the week I witnessed Fleetwing’s keel getting the Jenny Craig treatment (LARGE sections removed) and a new prop added 🙂 

Video Footage of the 2022 Mahurangi Regatta A Division Yacht Start

Two Questions

1. What is sail #3445 doing in that stunning line up of classics. Two points (a) its not a classic (b) it pollutes the image

2. Who was calling starting tactics on sail #A11 (Ida) No room at the inn for them. Maybe they also thought 3445 shouldn’t be there and could squeeze them out 🙂

More & Better Photos At The Link Below

Image gallery can be viewed here If you buy a photo, 50% of the profits will be donated back to the regatta to keep making it better each year.

Update 03-02-22 Photo below ex John Wright of Fleetwing closing in on My Girl


The launch above is Fleetwing and the photos were sent in by South Island woody – Pete Beach. Pete mentioned in a June 2020 WW story (link below – great read), that he once owned Fleetwing. The photos above are from when she was owned by Seymor Scott of Wharehunga Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound back in the 1940’s.

I’m a little confused – do we have two Fleetwings? In a November 2016 WW story we talked about Fleetwing being purchased by the Pollard Brothers and returned to Auckland and given a make-over. The hulls look similar but the boat must have had several ‘make-overs’. Check out the links below and let me know if we have the same boat. I’m sure Cameron Pollard will clear it up 🙂
2016 Story

2020 Story
Sorry if I got my wires crossed – been a busy boy today. 

Pacific – 105 Year Old Woody Get A New Heart

Pacific – The 105 Year Old Woody Get A New Heart

The 1917 Joe Slattery designed and built launch – Pacific, is a special boat – 105 years of one family ownership puts her into a very elite league.Now in the care of of Nathan Herbert, Pacific has sent the last 5 months hauled out getting a heart transplant i.e. a brand new FPT/ Iveco N45A 100hp diesel engine. The old green Lister sadly just didn’t provide the reliability and safety for a vessel that does the cruising miles that Pacific does.

Late yesterday afternoon Pacific had a ‘Claytons’ relaunch at the Milford Cruising Club’s slip. Not surprisingly after 5 months on the hard she had a big thirst, Jason Prew from The Slipway Milford was on hand with a large capacity extra bilge pump, but it wasn’t required. Fingers crossed the flow will abate when she goes back in again later today.

Whilst hauled out there was a serious dose of TLC done to Pacific, I’m looking forward to a better peek down below at the Mahurangi Regatta this weekend. Search PACIFIC in the WW Search Box to view / read more about Pacific past.

12-01-2021 Update – Pacific has been hauled out recently at The Slipway Milford, for a dose of annual maintenance + a new decks – looking very sharp. And these days do donr escape the yard without a Jason Prew paint job 🙂

16-10-2021 Ready to splash

I spotted Fleetwing, below,  at The Slipway Milford yard getting prepped for Mondays Auckland Anniversary Day regatta launch race. 

An Epic Tale of Whalers, Fishermen,  Farmers & Commercial Launch Masters

Prima Donna built by Lanes 1911 for Herman & Darcey Baldick 001

Primadonna built by Lanes for Ernie & Darcey Baldick 001

Primadonna and One of Bob Swansons boats 001



An Epic Tale of Whalers, Fishermen,  Farmers & Commercial Launch Masters

The story below without doubt is the best to appear on WW, author Pete Beech talks at one stage about writing a book – he needs to. Surely there is a funding channel available – what’s the literary equivalent of ‘NZ On Air’?

The story came about via the recent WW story on the ex whaler chaser – Primmadona and her relocation from the South to Aucklands Waitemata waters. I will let Pete tell you his story, as he told me – its a cracker – enjoy
As an aside I spotted Pete’s ‘work’ boat – Tutanekai, mentioned in the story in Queen Charlotte Sound two years ago, I admired her then, sadly I was too busy pushing bacon and eggs down the gullet at the rather swanky, Bay of Many Coves resort, to say hi – my loss, but I’ll be back. Photos of her at the WW link below:
Previous WW Primadonna stories:
Kia Ora Alan,
Thanks for making contact, I was sent a link to your site by my sister who lives on her yacht in an Auckland marina. She thought I’d be interested in your story on our old waka, Primadonna.
You and I obviously have a lot in common, 40 yrs ago there were a lot of old Sounds launches coming to the end of their days, my old dad worked for Ernie Lane as a young man then for Jack Morgan and Rodger Carey.
He and his old mates had been Sounds farmers, whalers , fishermen and commercial launch masters, when ever they got together conversation would always revert to “Boats ! “
We lived in a bay down the Sounds, old pa could identify the older boats by the sound of their exhausts, before they rounded the points and came into view. The old guys would tell you who built them, what year, how much they cost, what they were planked out of, some were sister ships (2 keels cut out of the same log) where the logs were sourced from for the planking, what timber they used for the ribs, what make of engine they used, how much it cost, what horse power they developed and how many GPH they burnt and  what revs  they run at.
They took pride in knowing the whole whakapapa of all the old waka, how many hours the engines did until they were worn out and rebuilt or replaced, in those days after 5/ 10 yrs they would replace with bigger more powerful engines, they would also tell you how the engine was taken out of one boat and put into another and so on.
I grew up hearing all these oral histories and like a couple of your writers mentioned the accuracy of some of these stories was lost in the telling, then my old dad passed on and I got to thinking that if someone doesn’t write down these oral histories within 50 years, they will pass from living memory and be lost to time.
So I went around and interviewed a number of the old timers and collected all the photos I could, so pleased I did because those old boys are all gone now and their kids tossed out their photos.
It was funny, they just loved to talk about their boats, often their wives used to ring me up and say “could you come back and talk to dad again, hes driving me mad ! “
For years I have fostered an ambition to compile a book using this material and feel a bit precious about it, however no one has a monopoly over history and it should be shared, who knows the millennials may have no interested in our nautical treasures .
I have been a mechanic, a marine engineer, a fisherman, a commercial launchmaster a boat builder and for the last 30 years have run an eco tour with our old waka the near 90 yr old Tutanekai. I used to think that the day would come when people would regard the old classics like they do vintage cars and would restore them.
However it hasn’t really happened here and sadly many of our old classics have  been sold out of the area many finding their way to Auckland, I will miss seeing the beautiful counter stern of the old Primmadonna on the Sound, she is so much part of our local history.
I’m so pleased to see the resurgence of traditional boats in Auckland and sure a lot of credit should go to you for the sparking peoples interest in the classic wooden boats.
I remember when she was sold to a feller up on the Foxton River, he eventually put her up for sale but no one wanted her, so he rang me up and said “I’ll sell it to you for bugger all, if you don’t I’m going to cut the side out of her with a chainsaw and turn it into a road side stall. 
I contacted Ian Baldick, nephew of the original owner and said that old girl is your family heritage, you should buy her back, he said OK boy , you’re right, I’ll do it on one condition, that you come with me to bring her back home.
So away we went, made the deal, checked out the old Lister, changed the oil and fuel filters and set off for home, when we got down close to the bar there was a big swell and old Ian said theres something wrong, she’s not lifting to the swell, he said pull her up, he went down into the front cabin, lifted up the bunk swabs and found that the whole forward section was full of river boulders, (this had been done because when you run the old lady on full throttle the stern would suck right down until the water was level with the deck and if you were steering from inside the cabin you couldn’t see over the bow).
We tossed all the boulders overboard and charged out over the bar, there were 3 very big waves, she rode up over the first then put her head down and dove under the second and in what seemed like an eternity finally lifted, rose over the third and burst out into the open sea, old Baldy said if we hadn’t thrown those boulders out she would of gone straight to the bottom !!!
He told me that she had been build too fine with not enough buoyancy in the bow, straight stemmed with no flare, he said that one time they we steaming out around Cape Jackson when they went thru the big rip where the Pacific and the Tasman seas meet there are often half a dozen big waves, he said that she responded the same way a stick does when you throw it into the water. He said you had to shut the throttle off and pull her out of gear,   she went down by the head and kept going down until her buoyancy finally made her shoot back out back wards just like a stick !  He said that on this occasion one of their mates was standing on the foredeck, he said that when this occurred he wrapped himself around the mast and held on for grim death, he said that when she popped out they went forward and couldn’t get their mate to let go of the mast, he said he had squeezed it that hard he ‘d squeezed all the sap out of it and they needed a screw driver to prize his finger nails out of the mast !
I also owned the old Fleetwing at one time, but that’s another story.
The old waka in my shed is a true classic launch, is just the bare hull and is in beautiful condition for its age, has been in my shed for 30 years waiting for attention, I’ll never get around to it , I only rescued it because I knew her history and wanted to see her preserved, she had a 5 HP Frisco Standard in her for years, shes only 6 ft beam, they didn’t start building them with 8ft beam until the twin cyl 8 hp Friscos came out in the 1920’s.
The Baldicks said that they flush decked her for gropher fishing and that when they were steaming around Dieffenbach Point in a strong southerly she would roll over that far that your shoulders would be in the water.!
What I could do is send you the story of her builder Ernest Berg who  was a real character, was bankrupted 3 times but kept reinventing himself, a real conman but he built beautiful boats, back at the turn of the century, 3 of them left that I know of.
That’s enough for now, Keep up your good work mate.
Kia Ora Alan,
My pleasure, always interesting to look at a series of photos taken of a wooden boat that shows how their superstructures  were changed to suit their roles and how their engines got bigger and bigger with advances in technology.
My old waka “Tutanekai originally had an 18 hp twin cyl Regal, that was replaced by a 40 hp 4 cyl sterling, then a 60hp, 6 cyl Hercules, a 110 hp  471 GM during the war, currently has a 120 hp GM and have a 6 cyl 340 hp Yanma  in the shed to replace the GM, ( but it refuses to die.)
My apologies, but I don’t know (or don’t remember )  what the original engines were in the Primadonna,  most of the early launches back in the 1920’s had 5 hp single cylinder Frisco standards when they wore out were replaced by 2 cylinder 8 hp Friscos, they were replaced in the 1940’s with car engines then in the 1950s with truck or tractor diesel engines like 4 cyl Fords or GM’s , (lucky ones had Gardners ! )
When Alf Baldick finished whaling he used the Primmadonna as a farm boat and for transport to and from town, there were no roads in the Sounds.
He sold to a guy McManaway who was a gropher fisherman, he did away with the rear wheel house to give him more deck space and fish hold, he built a pilot house over rear of front cabin. He sold to Rex Baldick, Alfs nephew, he was farming in East Bay and spent a lot of time hunting, you would often see her at the Picton wharf with stern deck covered with carcasses of pigs and deer.
Rex sold to Ken MacArther who fished her out of the Wairau Bar, she caught fire on him, he took the 4 cyl Ford out that Rex had put in and replaced with a three cylinder Lister.
That was the end of her commercial fishing era, she had several owners and more changes to her superstructure, they replaced the rear wheelhouse, when I had it she had a coal scuttle that stuck up above the cabin top so you didn’t have to duck , getting in and out of the cabin. Before Ian Baldick bought her back into family ownership he threw the Lister out and put a reconditioned 4 cly Ford back in her, cut the coal scuttle off and replaced with a sliding hatch, put a new S/S shaft in her and did a great job of tidying her up. When he retired he put a line hauler on her for gropher fishing and spent a lot of time out fishing and deer shooting, when he past on she was sold but a couple of owners latter his son in law bought her back again for running the whanau to and fro to their bach.
Sad that she has been sold out of the Sounds, but who knows some day she may find her way home, it has happened before !
Nga Mihi,
Woody Classics Weekend #5 Riverhead

Fleetwing Re-Launches



Late last week the Pollard brothers – Andrew & Cameron dropped Fleetwing back in the water after giving her a serious makeover. Other than shinny paint job, we are sure what has has been done to her, the brothers are a tad tight lipped on details.
What I can say is that looking at her stern there is a very serious new prop, a bigger exhaust & the addition of a set of trim-tabs, so me thinks that she has had ‘heart transplant’.
The big question is will they be entering the upcoming Rudder Cup launch race? Will be an interesting clash between Jason Prew’s My Girl & Fleetwing. I suspect that if we see an entry from the Pollards, Mr Prew will off to Westhaven marine chandlery outlets for a set to trim-tabs 😉
Speaking of the Rudder Cup, to date we have over 15 confirmed / paid-up entries, with a few more having to pay the late entry fee (>Nov 30th) – it will be a cracker event.
And CYA woodys – remember next weekend (Dec 1>2) is Patio Bay weekend – more on that in a few day.
Check out this WW link to read & view some of the history on Fleetwing.
Video below of Fleetwing idling post launching.

UPDATE 08-12-2018  My spies snapped a photo of Fleetwing at speed, heading down the harbour toward the Harbour Bridge – looked fast was the comment.







Today’s story has come about by 4 people digging me in the ribs – started off with Chris Manning letting me know that he had purchased Fleetwing, but not really for future ownership – more to protect her from future neglect & to secure a new owner that has the vision & passion to bring her back to the condition a vessel with her provenance deserves.
Next Nathan Herbert gives we a nudge, then Ian McDonald, then Cameron Pollard emails me, now if you know Cameron he is a man of few words (in emails) his message was “some woody needs to buy this”. And someone does.
Fleetwing is a 32′ kauri carvel planked hull, built at St Mary’s Bay, Auckland at the Collings & Bell yard, launched September 1920. She has spent the majority of her life in the Marlborough Sounds as a commuter and work launch.

No engine, no propeller, other running gear in place. No ancillaries/tanks. Hull appears sound and appears to have had significant refastening work done in the recent past. The deckhouse would benefit from the use of a chainsaw.

Currently lying on a mooring in Paremata. Can be shifted to Mana Marina Travel-lift if required.

Above are a couple of historic photos . The photos of her with the Aramoana green hull are as current.

So woodys if you are seriously seeking a historic New Zealand launch for refit or restoration then Fleetwing could be for you.

You can read more about her at the ww link below. You’ll find her list on trademe at $900 ono – yeap – $900.

12-11-2016 update ex Gavin Pascoe – In the colour photos the launch in the background is  another Collings and Bell, named Surprise. Built for Cook Strait whaling again on the concave convex principle.

28-08-2018 Update

I’m very pleased to advise the after a 91 year absence the 1920 Collings & Bell launch – Fleetwing, has returned to her original waters… Auckland.
She joins the Pollard Bros fleet. Photo below ex Andrew Pollard.
More photos below of her at West Park Marina – ex John Wicks 
Update 30-08-2018 Photo below supplied by Andrew Pollard – looking very quick 🙂
20-09-2018 Update – my spies sent in the photo below – rather a zoom zoom prop has been added – maybe the bros are doing the 2018 Rudder Cup race ????
Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 3.06.11 PM
29-09-2018 Another yard photo from Jason Prew, the guy should be working on his own boat 🙂
08-10-2018 Updated photo ex Andrew Pollard – looking very smart 😉
Fletwing Oct2018

Anyone know where this mullet boat is?

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The Mullet boat Waitomo / Disgraceful

Hello – I wondered if anyone might be able to help, I’m trying to track details on a Mullet boat my brother Neil Thompson, who now lives in Australia, used to own.

The boat was named Waitomo – he tells me she was known as “dizzy” or disgraceful from early 70’s to late 80’s as she was a wreck, laid up on the mudflats of Birkenhead for many years and someone wrote on her side in mud – this boat is disgraceful and the name stuck like the mud!

He is wondering where the boat has got too – all he knows is that it was trucked to the Bay of Islands in 1999 and possibly purchased by a gentleman who belonged to the Opua yacht club.

Sorry it’s not much to go on but I wondered whether this might ring any bells.  My brother is coming across in January and is keen to see the boat again if we can locate it.

I tracked down these pics from the web and I’m not sure of the dates.

Many thanks for your help!  Lisa – contact email below

Harold Kidd Input

Strictly speaking WAITOMO isn’t/wasn’t a “mullet boat”. She is/was a 16 footer S Class of roughly mullet boat configuration but in miniature.

Her registered number was S40 originally but changed to V244 (as shown in the images) as she was either over 16ft or was lengthened to 18ft.

I think her original name was BUNGAREE and she was built about 1929.

She was called DISGRACEFUL in 1953 when her owner was Charles Lindegreen and Eriksen, followed by Glen Thompson of Westmere.

Alan H UpdateI think some wag has had a little ‘play’ with the photos in the past, the helmsman looks a bit too curvaceous & its not from the normal mullet boat diet of meat pies and Lion Reds 🙂

Robin Elliott Update 23/12/13

I’m not so sure that the is/was Bungaree, although one cannot rule anything out.
Bungaree appears as S-40 in 1929 and is around until around 1933 when she vanishes.

In 1938 S-40 was allocated to Leilani, a square bilge ‘sharpie type’ of English design built by Roy Brummell, and famously photographed in the NZ Herald, in serous cruising mode, decorated with RAF roundels and with crew wearing US Navy gob hats. (HDK – see the S-class file of photographs now in your possession).

To also confuse, a 16-foot mullet boat type, but ROUND bilge, named Leilani and carrying S-4 was wrecked in Okahu Bay in 1898 and her hull towed away to the tip.

Disgraceful appears as S-40, owned by Erikson & Lindgreen in 1951, then B.S.G. Keene of Whangarei in 1957. I also have an unsubstantiated note that she was built in Whangarei just prior to the War, and she is similar to a couple of unknown (to me anyway) mullet boat types in an old Whangarei photo album that I must get back from the WCC..

Around 1960 she re-appears as Waitomo registered as V-244 because the AYMBA had stopped registering boats for the S-class and all boats less than 18-feet were registered as V’s. Loads of confusion anyway because the V-200 numerical series was begun in 1955 to cater for the 18-foot Flying Squardon V’s (V-201 Envy, V-202 Quandary, V-203 Quiz). By the early 1960’s when Waitomo came along the AYMBA was only half-heartedly registering 18-footers and probably didn’t give a toss that Waitomo was nothing like a Flying 18.

During this period her owners were :L.K. Murray 1961?/63+?; D.O.(Stuart) Munro (Hamilton East) 1965?/77+? (still shows as owner in 1978 NZYF); and Shane Kelly (ex Sea Spray editor) some time in the early 1980’s.

I remember seeing her on the hard at Okahu Bay in the mid-late 1980’s. She was VERY deep chested and probably drew the best part of 18 inches, quite tubby like a little Loloma which for a 16-footer was really unusual.She was wrecked in Okahu Bay in 1989 & her hull towed away to the tip.

Photos below ex Pam at Whangateau Traditional Boat yard

The top photo is Fleetwing  S11 on the left and Des Demona on the right (18 ft mullety), they are laid up in the backyard of 96 Vermont Street Ponsonby in 1942 for war times.
Pam would like to know who built Fleetwing and what happened to her? The photo was given to Pam from Des Pittams a previous owner of Des Demona.

Anyone able to put a make to the van towing Des Demona.

Charles (Chas) Collings – Designer / Boat Builder


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Charles (Chas) Collings – Designer / Boat Builder

The story below on Charles Collings’ approach to design in the immediate post-WW1 period has been penned by Harold Kidd.

Charles Collings emerged from World War I with a massive reputation for fast craft. In late 1914, when the war was just a distant rumble in France, he had built the 21ft restricted racer FLEETWING with which he raced and beat the Christchurch boat DISTURBER on the Waitemata in April 1915 at exactly the time of the landings at Gallipoli. He developed his “concave-convex” hull design where the chine hull had a convex (hollow) entry and progressively transitioned though straight to convex at the stern. He was by no means the originator of the idea, but certainly grabbed it as his own through decades of successful planing hulls he built for racing, fast cruising and whale chasing.
There is no doubt that he was well ahead of his time in a local context, although Major Lane was close behind.
By war’s end in 1918 Charles Collings had been a notable war effort contributor as a pal of local motorboat guru Charles Palmer (see ADELAIDE on this site), had lost his partner Alf Bell who had gone to the Walsh Brothers helping them build flying boats at Kohimarama for their flying school (and did not welcome him back afterwards), and was preparing for the post-war boom in large launch building that was inevitably coming, during which he built MARGUERITE, PAIKEA and RUAMANO amongst many others.
I have had a chip at his aesthetics from time to time but, to be fair to the man, he did not have the hindsight we have on the way launch design went and could not know what looks good to us today.
Faced with the design of a fast cruiser, only 32ft loa by 8ft 6in beam, and the desire for headroom in the main cabin, he came up with his second motorboat called FLEETWING (by now a brand for him). She was an extension of the ideas in the 1915 ADELAIDE.
I think, with this second FLEETWING, Collings’ first training as a civil engineer shows through more than his secondary training with Robert Logan Sr. as a shipwright. To obtain headroom he carried the tramtop/clerestory concept to the point IMHO of ugliness, using the parameters of the railway carriage, the electric tram and the motor bus of the time, abandoning completely the parameters of the yacht, even a token attention to which had kept launches aesthetically pleasing until now.
Anyway, see what you think of this image of the second FLEETWING which I have taken from one of Collings’ own glass plates, very decayed, but an amazing insight into the goings on in St Mary’s Bay in late 1920. Collings & Bell’s yard is out of picture to the left, so we see the yards of Dick Lang and Leon Warne close up.
This launch was on TradeMe at Picton recently, erroneously called MISS FLEETWING.

Update: Charles Collings was a very good amateur photographer with excellent gear. After his death in 1946 his glass plates got scattered around in the workshop, many were used for skipping across the Bay, most were smashed one way or another. A very few survived, most cracked or with their emulsion badly decayed. I have a handful more of which a couple are excellent and the definitive shots of his 26ft mullet boat CORONA after her launching in 1936.

PS Leon Warne took over the shed on the right in 1916 from Henry Barton who left for the US with his family because of his anti-war convictions (and had a shocking time on the way). Warne had served his time with Collings & Bell. He painted up the shed very nicely as you can see but was building in St.Mary’s Bay only until c1924 when he and his brother set up in Russell, building and chartering game fishing launches.