Classic Wooden Small Boats

Classic Wooden Small Boats
In the days before remote controlled model yachts – the yachts were divided into two kinds – Free sailing – were boats were sailed in open water and ‘chased’ by their skippers in dinghies who ’touched’ the yachts during the course of the race to adjust their course.

The other kind was – Pond yachts, sailed on small lakes, basins or special ponds (in parks), the skipper would race around the pond to tack or gybe the model as it got close to shore. Refer b/w photos below for examples of the racing.

The top colour photos were sent to me by an ex work colleague – John Maxwell, we worked together over 30 years ago in the crazy world of advertising in the late 1980’s. Unknown to me, one of John’s passions is the building of old style pond yachts, but with a modern take, refer examples above of Ranger, Innismara, Infidel, Meter class (black hull) and one in the vein of an A class. Not exactly accurate, but instantly recognizable as the original. They are all hand painted, so as to faithful to the old style. John commented that the problem with making the models sail, is that the depth of the keel, mast position/ height etc, have to be altered slightly from the plans of the real boat, otherwise it just sails sideways or rounds up into the wind. John aims to capture the spirit of the original, but still maintaining the ‘Old school’ charm of the yesteryear pond yachts. They are all free sailing models and quite big ie 1.8 m long. Typically they have a lot of lead on the keels approx 15-20 lbs., most are balsa over wooden frames with glass over the top. 
Stunning work – but it doesn’t surprise me, John was / is a very talented man, and rather good with a paint brush and canvas.

2020 New Zealand Classic Yacht Regatta Photo Gallery – 100+ photos and videos














2020 New Zealand Classic Yacht Regatta Photo Gallery – 100+ photos and videos

As I have mentioned in the last two WW stories, the Classic Yacht Association of New Zealand have over the last 3 days been running its annual classic yachting event on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.
The near perfect conditions on all three days made for happy skippers and a relieved race organisers. I was on the water for two of the three days and had a blast. The gallery above is a mix of Races 1/2/3. If your boat doesn’t make an appearance, I apologize, I was only a passenger, so captured those that were within range.
On the second day, James Dreyer and myself hosted the world acclaimed marine photographer Benjamin Mendlowitz onboard Jame’s motorboat – Laughing Lady, the perfect platform for recording the on the water activities.
For me it was a master class in boat positioning and photography angles, I tried to keep out of Ben’s way and took the above photos / videos when I could without being in Ben’s line of sight.
These days the CYA run the regatta using the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron as Race HQ and entertainment hub, it is the perfect venue and as always the service and staff were 10/10.
 Scroll down for the official regatta results below
As always – click on photos to enlarge.
Race Course Videos Below (Races 2/3)






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CYA Classic Yacht Regatta 2019 – Race #1 – 37 Photos


Rawhiti & Ariki




Little Jim




CYA Classic Yacht Regatta 2019 – Race #1 – 37 Photos

At the end of the day I shot down to Devonport Wharf with the tele-lens & just caught the fleet sliding down the harbour, a little overcast but that would have been a + for the crews.
I’ll attempt to ID the yachts – scroll over the photos to see names – if I get it wrong, let me know 😉
As you read this I’ll be winging my way south to Lake Rotoiti (Nelson Lakes) for the 20th NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show, mooching around Nelson for a few days so should have some good southern content next week.

Wooden Boating VIP On The Waitemata

Wooden Boating VIP On The Waitemata

Today I hosted Ben Mendlowitz on Raindance, Ben is the number one wooden boat photographer in the world & shoots for just about every boating magazine there is & produces the world famous “Calendar of WoodenBoats’ + has authored dozens of books on the subject.
While in New Zealand Ben was keen to photograph some of our classic fleet, so we headed out yesterday to catch the classic division of the RNZYS Winter Series race.
Ben will have some stunning photos, I was just the driver today so only took a few, very average photos – I did however capture 2 rare events:
1. Thelma going a ground off Stanley Point – some very red faces
2. Jason Prew venturing forward of the mast on Rawene – he didn’t look comfortable 🙂
Photos below – enjoy
In case you missed it – in 2 weeks (Oct 5>7th) is the annual Classic Yacht & Launch Exhibition at the Viaduct – this year the theme is ‘The New Zealand Sailing Dinghy’ – I’ll post more on the event during the week – but right now Tony Stevenson is doing a call out to anybody interested in displaying their classic NZ designed and built sailing dinghy, yacht class information or memorabilia.
Please contact Tony Stevenson  or 021 977 456
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How To Steam Ribs – Sailing Sunday

How To Steam Ribs – Sailing Sunday

Robin Elliott sent me the youtube link below to Australian Ian Smith ribbing the 24-foot Ranger class gaffer he’s building for himself. Its good viewing. Ranger, was designed by E.C. (Cliff) Gale and built by Billy Fisher in 1933 & is still going strong under the ownership of Cliff’s son Bill Gale and races with others built to her design with the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, photos below, again ex Robin.

Ranger Aust 2

Ranger Aust 1

The below photo of the yacht Kotiri B20 was sent to me by Lesley Brennan, who commented on ww that she had come across an old B/W 6×4 photo with Kotiri hand written in pencil on it. Lesley will give the photo to the most deserving – no doubt the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust?



Do You Have One Of These?

I have asked before but the repairs did not last – so has any woody got a switch like the ones below in their bottom draw?

WW t-shirt if you have a spare one 😉




Windhaven II





Yachting Developments have just completed a major refit & restoration on the Colin Wild ketch Windhaven.
Her relaunch was a little more dignified than when she was first launched at her builders, Colin Wild, Stanley Point, Devonport yard. Ngatiringa Bay lacks H2O, even at high water 🙂

Wonderful to see one of your iconic classics returned to her former glory. In fact, the team at YD have delivered her in better than ‘as-new’ condition. As further proof of the work YD do on classics see the photos below of Ranger, also returning to the water after some TLC in the YD shed. Thanks to Paige Cook/facebook for the images. Launch day photo ex John Salthouse collection via Mike Drummond.


Fidelis + Ranger + Mason Clipper


Fidelis + Ranger + Mason Clipper

Fidelis + Ranger + Mason Clipper

photos ex mason clipper facebook page

On the day when the CYA’s Classic Yacht Regatta should be being decided on the water, I thought it very approximate to publish the photo of Fidelis & Ranger sitting on the hard along with a Mason Clipper. Photo was taken at the Westhaven main ramp in 1968 when the A Class keeler ‘Fidelis’ was owned by Jim Davern left and on the right ‘Ranger’ owned then by Lou Tercel.

Unfortunately the weather gods have not been kind & the regatta was cancelled. My waterfront spies tell me both yachts + Te Aroa did race in the RNZYS Friday night harbour race with Fidelis pipping Ranger at the finish.

I have also posted a few stunning Clipper photos below.
One of the great mysteries of the classic boating movement is why these wonderful vessels were never really adopted by classic motorboat followers. Any where else in the world you would see groups of them restored to showroom condition. Only in the last few years have we seen the restoration of a few.

Maybe the reason has something to do with a tale told to me by an old yachtie. It went something like this.

In the early days of boating on the Waitemata, yachting was the big thing, interrupted occasionally by (slightly) managed motorboat racing. With the arrival of boats like the Mason Clippers, almost overnight there were scores of boats capable of exceeding 40mph, these boats were able to be purchased almost like a motor car & were as easy to ‘drive’. A whole new group of people entered the boating scene. You only have to look back at the list of the original Clipper owners, to see that to the whos who of Auckland business, owning a Clipper was the thing to do. The quiet bay & anchorages of the past the yachties treasured were now being invaded by a new ‘set’.

Is it possible that back then, the Clipper was ‘tagged’ by yachties like most of us now tag jet ski’s ?, remember this was in the days before big fast outboards were common.

(I read somewhere that it was 5 years before Sea Spray featured a Clipper in the magazine, further proof that they were not openly accepted?)