Huia Winning the Sanders Cup 1939

1939 Sanders Cup Crowd at Port Levy – Brother Bill Hemsley seated centre under “Mayor” holding imitation Cup.

The Crew Of Huia


WW was recently contacted by Carol Jukes regarding her father George Hemsley and the 1932 X-Class dinghy – Huia. You can read more on Huia on the WW link below, I’ll let Carol’s note tell the story.

“Dad had a pretty good memory and for many years we asked him to write his memories down, at last he and I got cracking. Dad grew up in Lyttelton and the sea was a great part of his life.  The Sanders Cup left a lasting impression on him, the article on HUIA and the Sanders Cup was taken from his book (Just George).  His love of the sea continued all of his life and at one time he was the proud owner of Cherub #1. Like the owner who gave HUIA a new lease of life, Dad did the same for Cherub #1. My Brother David and I were also keen yachties

Unfortunately my photos of the HUIA sailing in the Sanders Cup leave a lot to be desired, I would be interested if anyone has a good copy as I am in the process of updating Dads book, I am now up to the chapter of the HUIA and the Sanders Cup and that’s how I came upon the waitematawoodys site when I put HUIA into the Google search engine. Thank you for your interest.”

Extract Below From George Hemsley’s Memories (2.8.1913 > 29.7.2010)

It was the year 1939 when my Brother Bill Hemsley’s yacht “Huia” the Canterbury representative won the Sanders Cup.  This event was sailed on Bluff Harbour with the first race starting on the 20th January.  She was skippered by W A Tissiman with the crew of Bill Hemsley, S Sillars and H Brodie. 

Her placings were as follows:-

Race #1 –  Third

          #2 –  First

          #3 –  Huia did not start as she was unable to reef:-

          #4 –  second or third

          #5 –  First

          #6 –  First

HUIA wins the Sanders Cup.

“The Sanders Cup” yes it would seem that salt-water activities create bad feelings between yachties.  Take the “Americas” cup today, what do we have, well when I was still at school the “Sanders Cup” was the same as the “Americas Cup” capable of stirring up the people of New Zealand to great enthusiasm between each province that competed.  The reason that I do remember because my brother Bill (William Roy Hemsley) had bought the 14 footer HUIA.  

Now in Lyttelton we had a man that built these 14 footers they had to be the exact measurement set down to fit a mould and no excuses for any mistakes.  Mr Fred Dobbie was the man who built most of these 14 footers.  Well brother Bill’s yacht was built by a different builder – from memory his name was Dick Tredenick.

It came time to race to determine who was to represent Canterbury – it was sailed in Lyttelton.  To the best of my knowledge Huia won the first three races outright, so was the winner, but no they had to sail another three races, which she also won, now she had won six out of six races, but they the ”opposition” was determined that a Dobbie built boat was going to go, so they counted another three races which HUIA refused to enter and another boat was the winner of the next three races.  This caused bad feeling especially when Brother Bill was asked to lend his set of sails to send the other boat away. 

However the next year when HUIA again won the races there was no doubt.  The HUIA did represent Canterbury for the 1939 Sanders Cup and did win the Sanders Cup for her province.  The racing was held in Bluff with Bill Tissiman as skipper. 

Between 1921 and 1946 Canterbury won the Sanders Cup 9 times, with the racing being sailed in Lyttelton 5 times and between 1921 & 1946.  There was no racing during the war years of 1942-43-44 and 45.  

I remember reading about a rowing race that was held for the visiting reporters as well, before the commencement of cup racing.  I don’t know if this was always the case but the race in question was 1928 at Stewart Island.  This caused a great deal of hilarity as well and was fiercely contested.  Boats of supporters followed each reporter yelling encouragement to them and the opposite to the opposition.  I do wonder if the same spirit is still as evident today.  


Bit of an essay here but …. it’s complicated

Recollections are tricky things and although correct by and large, several seasons in your father’s memoir, 1936-1939, appear to have been conflated into one major story. I recommend a serious trawling of Papers Past to straighten out the kinks.

As unfair as it sounds, it was not uncommon for Sanders Cup committees to ‘swap out’ crew, or sails from one winning boat onto their chosen representative, such was their desperation to be successful. Many skippers angrily resented this practice and refused to comply with requests to turn their boat over to their Sanders Cup Selection committee to have the best bits pinched off it. Here is the justification.

Huia also suffered from being regarded as ‘an old boat’. Back in 1924 R. Tredennick and Fred Dobby built Pioioi, Dobby’s first 14-footer, which was wrecked during its maiden race. It seems that 8 years later, rather than go back to Fred Dobby for a new boat, Tredennick may have used these 1924 moulds to build Huia. She was often referred to as a Dobby boat ‘built by Tredennick’.

Either way, Huia was launched in November 1932, carried sail number X-7. She did little of note until sold to Bill Hemsley around 1935 who installed Sanders Cup winning skipper Elliot Sinclair on the helm. She was suddenly a very competitive boat.

This caused a problem for Sanders Cup selectors because Canterbury had won the previous 4 contests in the newer Dobby-built boats, Avenger and Irene. The Huia design, if from the Pioioi moulds, would have been over 10 years old, and amateur built at that. Maybe too much risk?

The committee selected a proven winner, the Dobby-built Avenger, put Huia’s Eliot Sinclair on as skipper with one of his crew and two of Avenger’s normal crew.

Avenger won the 1936 Sanders Cup so it was all seen as justifiable in the end.

It is unclear when Bill Hemsley sold Huia, possible as early as 1937. For the 1936/37 Sanders Cup Trials he sailed with Bill Tissiman on Colleen, won selection and was Canterbury Rep that season, coming a close second to the winner Lavina from Wellington.

In the 1937/38 season Huia was sailed by R. Hendry, and in 1938/39 Bill Tissiman was on the helm when she won selection for the 1939 Sanders Cup at Bluff.

It doesn’t look like Bill Hemsley was in the crew of Huia that season. He may have accompanied the group to Bluff but he was not selected as crew.

Just to complicate matters, I have a copy of the Wheatley & Reid’s Sanders Cup book which has, facing page 169, a ‘photo of the crew of Huia’ at Bluff 1939 (the same as your ‘crew of Huia’ photo above).

X-class historian, the late Murray Stark has noted on my copy of the book, ‘Facing page 169 NOT the 1939 crew’ and lists the crew as per the Papers Past articles above.

I suspect that the ‘crew photo’ is that of Colleen from 2 years earlier with Bill Hemsley in the crew.

You may find more details in a trawl of Papers Past.

Whoever owned Huia sold her to W. Pool of Akaroa in 1941 and she was still racing with the Akaroa Sailing Club as late as 1948.

My Canterbury contact (the late Graham Mander who raced many times at the Akaroa Regattas) was fairly sure she had been converted to a runabout in the late 1950’s early 60’s.

It seems unlikely (though not impossible) that she is the X-class Huia since restored and appearing on the earlier Woodys post.

Sanders Cup Yachts – Sailing Sunday

Jellicoe Class Sanders Cup Boats

Sanders Cup Yachts – Sailing Sunday
photos from ex Mac Taylor Collection

The above photo shows three Jellicoe Class Sanders Cup boats ( X28 – X34 – X45) in full flight on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. I have included below the original photos as the resolution weakens on the cropped version above.

Harold Kidd Input

X28 is DESIRE built by Trot Willetts for Ed Croad in 1948ish. Never outstanding.
X34 is BETTINA built by Sam Mason for himself in 1946. She won the Sanders Cup in 1948.
X45 is WHITE HEATHER built by Jim Young for himself in 1949. She won the Sanders Cup in 1949.

My guess is that this is the Auckland Sanders Cup trials of 1949.

Robin will probably be more encyclopaedic than me.

Jellicoe Class Sanders Cup Boats 1

29-03-2016 Input from Jim Young
Confirming photo probably taken in Nov 1948  during the Sanders Cup selection trials.  X45 White Heather J.Young, L.( Wagger)  Riley, .R Lamb , F.(Snow ) Swanberg. All of Northcote.  X34  Bettina,  Sam Mason of Stanley Bay, X28 Desire Eddie Croad of Pt Chevalier.