Auckland Anniversary Day – Classic Launch Race – 26 Wooden Boat Photos


Auckland Anniversary Day – Classic Launch Race

Over the long weekend we had a smorgasbord of boating events to chose from, one being a ‘classic’ launch race on the Monday, as part of the 2020 Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. The format is a handicapped race around a set inner harbour course, effectively a drag race. Handicapping for these races is a challenge, there are so many variables that come into play.
Reviewing the results, the handicapping appears to have done a good job.
The day was near perfect and a delayed start meant that I was able to take the above photos. I was heading back for Mahurangi and was not planning to be at the event.
As you would expect, there were numerous mechanical problems and a few DNF’s.
Photos a little ‘hairy’ – long lens.
1st:   Ngaio
2nd: Sterling
3rd:  Fancy Free











I have been contacted by Murray Wilson the owner of the 40′ ex workboat – Sterling, he bought her a couple of years ago and is in the middle of a ‘rolling’ restoration. Murray has been told that she was built by Ernie Lane in Picton in 1926 to tow logs out of the Sounds.

It’s rumoured that Sterling was involved in an incident in Tasman Bay in the 1960s or 1970s that involved the boat being found with a scallop dredge in the water, engine running and no one on board. When the dredge was lifted the skipper came up with it. 

Murray is keen to confirm and learn more of Sterling’s history.

Input from Harold Kidd – This STERLING was built by Ernie Lane in Picton in 1925 for L.J. Steele as a passenger vessel to carry 60 pax and had a 1924-built 3 cylinder 27hp (rated) Sterling marine engine bore 4.5″ x stroke 5.5″, dimensions 34′ x 9′ x 3’9″. The engine was changed to 27hp Ruston-Lister diesel by 1940 when she was owned by N.A. Steele and converted to a fishing boat under No. PN29. There was a Marine Dept enquiry in 1946 when she ran on rocks in the Tory Channel with the loss of two lives.

That 34ft loa was the MOT Thames measurement length. She was a 40 footer really.
Historical notes below from recollections of Lex Wells, recorded by Mike Davidson
Lex Wells has lived all his life in the Marlborough Sounds and has worked on and owned
many working boats in the fishing, scalloping and mussel industries. Lex is now over 80 and
has extensive memories and knowledge of many of the working boats and launches in the
Sounds. Arguably there is nobody better informed about Sounds vessels than he is.
History of the Motor Launch “STERLING”
1. The “Sterling” was built by Ernie Lane in the late 1920s for Matt Steel and joined his small fleet of passenger launches.
2. Matt Steel sold his fleet to Queen Charlotte Launches in the late1940s. Lex is not sure if
“Sterling” went to Queen Charlotte Launches as part of that deal; she might have been sold earlier.
3. In the 1960s or 1970s, “Sterling” was sold again and used for fishing and scalloping out of Nelson. One day, in the 1970s, the “Sterling” was found drifting, unmanned, on the scallop beds. The skipper had been working by himself. His body was found in the dredge when it was lifted.
4. After this accident, “Sterling” was sold to a new owner and went fishing out of Taieri
Mouth and was based there for many years.
5. “Sterling” was then bought by Ronnie Wells (a cousin of Lex’s) in the late 1970s or early 1980s and he brought her back to the Sounds. He used her for quite a few years in the scalloping and fishing industry, operating out of Havelock.
6. “Sterling” had a Gardner engine in it when Ronnie Wells bought it. At some stage
afterwards that engine was destroyed when an oil filter failed. It was replaced with a Russel Newbury (RN) engine. That engine was too old and had been poorly maintained and it eventually died one day when “Sterling” was working at sea. Lex towed her with his vessel into Havelock where a four cylinder Ford engine was put in “Sterling”.
7. Ronnie Wells then sold “Sterling” to Sunny Sunbeam and his business partner (might have been his brother). She was taken to Picton where a lot of work was done on her, including new top planks on the hull and a new and much larger cabin on the deck. She was taken back to Havelock soon after.
8. Sunny Sunbeam later sold her and she was taken away from the Sounds by her new owner.

The Rudder Cup From Up High













The Rudder Cup From Up High

It is only been a week since the Rudder Cup Launch race but it was such a cool woody event that when the above photos arrived from Sally Teesdale I couldn’t help doing another WW post.

Sally was up North Head, Devonport with the camera & captured the fleet rounding North Head heading north.
As always – click the photos to enlarge. (I have cropped / colour enhanced the photos – the weather was a tad bleak?)

2018 Rudder Cup – Motor Boat Race – 60 + Classic Wooden Boat Photos


My Girl









Lady Crossley

2018 Rudder Cup – Motor Boat Race – 60 + Classic Wooden Boat Photos

Friday 14th December , was only the third time in one hundred & ten years that the Rudder Cup race has been run – previous dates were 1908. 2008 & now 2018. Always in December, always the same course to Sail Rock & back, always overnight & always 108 nm in distance.
The background to the race has been well documented on WW so I will not re-hash the details – WW search Rudder Cup for more details.
2018 saw 15 classic Woodys assembling on the start line in front of the RNZYS for the 7pm start. The fleet were joined by almost as many fellow woodys who gathered to see the fleet off. John Street fired a magnificent cannon (details of which will appear on WW at a later date) to start the race.
Conditions were overcast & a little damp but that did not stop the skippers & crew from putting on a stunning sight for the crowd assembled on the foreshore.
By North Head the fleet had established itself in terms of boat speed & positioning – the race is a sealed handicap event, with skippers not knowing their handicap until the prize giving. This year, technology via the PredictWind race tracker app, allowed skippers & shore based woodys the opportunity to view the position & speed of the boats in ‘real-time’. Helped make the hours slide by quicker.
I had a very comfortable race aboard Barbara & David Cooke’s sensational Salthouse motor-yacht Trinidad. The mix of vessel, company, catering & banter was perfect – a good time was had by all. Not a lot of sleep (zero for myself & the skipper), but when dawn came around we all had found our second wind, or maybe it was Brian Fulton’s scones topped with brandy butter 🙂
We ran a sweep onboard Trinidad as to our finish time & I won – only 10 seconds off my prediction of 12 hours / 40 minutes.
Results below – you will see that Trinny won her divisional prize, which made Captain Cooke a happy chap 🙂
VINTAGE DIVISION (1919-1949) – WAITANGI (note: no photos below of skipper Ian Cooke – as RNZYS commodore, Ian was attending another function)
Todays photo gallery of the race, comes to you via the camera’s of numerous woodys – thanks go out to Graeme Finch, Rod Marler, yours truely – Alan Houghton. Some are not any where near perfect – boat speed, sea conditions & a very long tele-lens are not a good mix if you are aiming for great photos.
I’m sure I’ll get sent more in the next few days, so will update when & if we get more. If any of the skippers want a copy of a photo – drop me an email at
I would like to thank the Rudder Cup Race Committee for pulling the event together, a huge amount of time & co-ordination goes into one of these events & with out the folks below, it would never have happened:
Jason Prew (Chair), Nathan Herbert, Barbara Cooke, David Cooke, Alan Houghton, Joyce Talbot (Wonder Woman), Chris Collins & Baden Pascoe.
I would also like to mention the support we received from the Classic Yacht Association committee in stepping forward & underwriting the event – a progressive move from the then new CYA Chairman, James Mortimer. Thank you James.
ENJOY – As always, click on photos to enlarge + I have been extra nice today & captioned most of the photos 😉
Photos below from the prize giving at the RNZYS on Saturday night – weather was perfect & the food VERY good- well done RNZYS team.
A few ‘tired’ eyes – most of these guys had been awake for 24+hrs 🙂

CYA Chairman James Mortimer + Brett Evans – Sterling – Winner 2018 Rudder Cup


Sterling Skipper & Winning Crew


CYA Chairman James Mortimer + David Cooke – Trinidad – Winner Classic Division


CYA Chairman James Mortimer + Iain Forsyth – Meola – Spot prize winner


Peter Boardman Skipper – Lady Margaret (D. Lang) Spot prize winner


Ferro Skipper – Dick Coughlan – Spot prize winner


Ronaki Skipper – Daniel Thomas – Spot prize winner


Korara Skipper – Anatole Perry – Spot prize winner