This thread is not complete yet.
We are filling in the gaps and adding developments as they happen.
lots of links here
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Classic and Vintage
Sailing and yachting as a New Zealand sport dates from 1841 when a regatta was held on Wellington Harbour (Port Nicholson) to celebrate the first anniversary of the settlement. The report in the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator was as follows:
“Sailing Race: Won by Mr. Duppa’s schooner rigged boat of about ten tons. Three others started; Mr. George Young’s cutter; Captain Shuttle-worth’s cutter; and the cutter “Sandfly”. However, “Sandfly” was disqualified as she was ‘one foot longer on the keel’ than was allowed by the regulations. Young’s cutter with a fair wind, outstripped her opponents considerably, but on beating back, lost ground andonly gained second place. Captain Shuttleworth’s cutter evidently had no chance.”
This post is a brief outline of sailing dinghies from
New Zealand collected from yachties, yacht clubs,
class associations, and yachting links.
A preliminary contribution from;
Jeremy Lowe’s local history, maritime, sailing and genealogy site
The UK Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association defines “Vintage” boats as those mainly designed and built before WW2 using solid wood and no glue in their construction.
“Classic” boats are those designed and built before 1965 not already covered by the Vintage classification.
Merely “Old” are boats “from any class established before 1965 and built over 25 years ago”, and any of the development classes established before 1965….. “just as long as they are over 25 years old”.
Classic and Vintage NZ classes
More than 20 New Zealand classes meet the “Classic” and “Vintage” criteria. Of these, the Cherub has become established internationally. At 5.3 metres (18 feet) it may be stretching it to include the M-class as a dinghy but it isn’t a keel boat and it isn’t decked. Several of the older classes adapted to the use of ply in the 1950’s and some even to fibreglass.
Examples of several vintage classes are on display in the New ZealandNational Maritime Museum in Auckland.
A preliminary list
Note that some of the names are also used in other countries for their own local classes.
Jack Logan 1949
Twelve feet of wooden adrenaline!!!
Glendowie Boating Club is the only sailing club in New Zealandwhere you can find a fleet of keen Arrow sailors. Arrows are two handed centreboard sailing dinghies designed and built more than 50 years ago!
Arrows are sailed almost every weekend when there is Centreboard racing. These yachts are a great way to learn the ropes of sailing and racing for beginners of any age and the perfect boat for parent/child crew.
John Chapple 1959
The fat con fat con fat con troller
Thanks Squid, 🙂 now just information needed
John Spencer 1951
This Mark II Cherub-class yacht, Interlude, was built in 1958 and proved a successful competitor. In 1952 John Spencer’s radical plywood dinghy Cherub had created great interest, especially among younger yachties. It could be built at home, and was very fast and light, with square bilges. A year later a Cherub class was launched, and within 10 years it became international.
and more here
The New Zealand Cherub
Restricted Class Dinghy
· L.OA. 12 ft.
· Beam: minimum 4 ft. 8 in., maximum 5 ft.
· Sail area:
· Working sails l00 sq. ft.;
· Spinnaker, maximum dimensions l4 ft. x 14ft x 9ft.
· Mast, LOA 20 ft. minimum weight stripped 13 lb.
· Spinnaker Boom, maximum length 9 ft.
· Hull weight stripped 110 lb.
The Cherub is a modern, lightweight, high performance racing dinghy. Construction is from marine plywood The design is based upon two concepts, that of the hard chine boat from amidships aft and the conventional round bilge sections forward. The merging of these two constructional principles is known in New Zealand as a ‘disappearing chine’. The chine fairs away forward and at the bow the hull is either moulded from strips, or the plywood skin is slotted to give the required shape.
The majority of the class have been amateur built and many interesting constructional features have been successfully tried. New boats in the class have no frames and in order to have the minimum of 3 cu. ft. of buoyancy as laid down in the rules they usually have a watertight bulk- forward and side tanks. The class is novel in this respect, hall shape restricted only, while the sail plan is one design as far as maximum measurements are concerned The number of battens in the mainsail is also controlled at six, and they must all be full length. The area of round in the jib and spinnaker is unlimited Three battens in the jib are optional, depending on the individual The Cherub also carries a spinnaker, the maximum dimensions being l4 ft. x 14ft x 9ft
Although this gives opportunity for a parachute spinnaker, in New Zealandthis type has never foundfavour among the smaller classes, the old single luff type being preferred. It is found that the ‘flat’ type spinnaker can be carried on close reaches, a thing that is denied to the ballooner or parachute, andany Boat that does not fly one on a close reach is usually left far behind. This type of kite does not seem to lose anything in the way of performance when matched against the chute on a flat run or broad reach andis definitely not such a difficult sail to get drawing properly. This explains why the spinnaker booms are far longer than the British norm, the maximum length of the boom being 9 ft. andthe average length in the class 8’6in. spinnaker is cut virtually as a reaching jib, experienced crew being able to gybe this in about 45 seconds.
The mast is stepped on deck and the maximum height of the spar is 20ft. Rigging is optional, but usually limited to shrouds and diamonds with one set of spreaders.
Each owner is free to develop his own ideas as regards design, construction and fittings, but the rules of the class are so phrased to keep all the boats fairly similar, and so far no freaks have been produced which have had runaway victories. The premium is still on good gear, crew work and tactical skill, Crew is limited to two.
The National Council of the Cherub Class Owners association recommends building to I. Pryde’s Carousel or John Spencer’s Modified Mk 2 design. Both of these boats have been well tried and are consistent place winners in all major events.
Although knock-up centreplates are not specifically banned almost every boat uses a daggerboard, which is universal practice in boats under 18ft in New Zealand.
The Cherub Dinghy started in New Zealand in the early 1950’s and spread to the UK in 1956. The Class has been active in this country since that time and more recently the UK fleet has followed a new positive and independent policy.
The Cherub is a true high-performance dinghy. With a hull weight of only 110 lbs a sail area of 125 sq feet and a trapeze, the Cherub will easily plane to windward. Add the 130 sq ft spinnaker on its 9ft pole and the downwind speed is electrifying. On 3-sail reaches, Cherubs have the speed to overtake much longer boats such as 505’s often enough to cause considerable embarrassment The present Portsmouth rating of 115 has now been overtaken by developments in 1984/85, and modern Cherubs are probably fast enough for a rating of about 113. At only 12 ft long, the Cherub is only beaten by the Australian 12 ft Skiff (which has the advantage of 2 trapezes and unlimited sail area).
The Cherub is one of the select band of racing classes which permits development within the class restrictions, and the class policy is one of controlled and steady improvement. This allows the class to stay abreast of state-of-the-art dinghy sailing and ensures its long term future. The development concept permits individuals to tailor their boats to their own preferences and different hull designs encourage a wider range of crew weights than can be accommodated by a one-design.
Any form of construction is permitted. Both plywood and f.r.p foam sandwich hulls are competitive. Amateur built boats are common and successful Well built hulls remain competitive for many seasons and boats up to 6 years old can compete at the front of the Nationals fleet.
line drawings here
Dart (Des Townson 1961)
TOWNSON DART WANTED
Des Townson designed a two man boat based on his Starling design. Some thirty boats were built, mainly in the Thames, Waiuku and Northcote area. If there are any still left in shed roofs or under houses, Rob Ebert would like to know. “We have some bored Opti sailors who are looking for a bit of two man fun,” says Ebert.
Decoy (Bill Coudrey 1939)
John Spencer and Peter Tait
Two friends, well known New Zealand designer John Spencer (the one with the red whiskers) and Peter Tait are responsible for the Firebug. The idea was to come up with a small boat which could be home built at low cost, ie to make the wonderful pastime of sailing more accessible and also to foster amateur boatbuilding skills – the grassroots of sailing.
Promotion has been mostly through magazine writings in the following publications: Boating New Zealand, Practical Boat Owner (UK), WindlingWorld (NZ), Messing Around in Boats (US) and The Australian Amateur Boatbuilder. The idea has been an instant success. Planpacksare already in 22 countries around the world. Hundreds of Firebugs have already been built!
John, well respected around the world for his innovations with planing dinghies and lightweight keelers, was best known amongst dinghy sailors for his Cherubs, Javelins, Flying Ants, 18 and 12ft skiffs, but also designed a large range of keel yachts. A champion of the amateur builder he disliked off-the-shelf performance boats where the high price limited access to the pleasures of sailing.
Unfortunately after a period of not such good health he passed away in 1996. However, one thing is for sure, had he stuck around he would have been absolutely delighted to have seen one of his favourite boats becoming so popular
Originating in the ‘City of Sails’ Auckland New Zealand the FireBug was designed by John Spencer and Peter Tait. So far over 850 planpacks have gone to more than 29 countries. More than 400 of the small sailing dinghy have been successfully amateur built. The FireBug sails well with adults as well as children and two up on a nice day for tuition.
need more information
In the 1960’s John Spencer designed a junior training boat that became known as the Flying Ant. These craft were sailed by a crew of two youngsters who quickly learnt all the basics of sailing as the boats carried jib, mainsail and spinnaker. Club fleets of more than a dozen were racing in the bay early in the seventies and well known Club sailors who were to graduate from this class were, Andrew Taylor, Grant Turnbull and Rohan Lord.
Frostbite (J. B. Brook1938)
John Spencer 1954
Hamilton Yacht club once hosted a large Frostply fleet with a few arriving back at the club recently. It is a 1954 John Spencer design, popular some years ago. It is well suited to a parent and child or two teenagers. It is light, quick and simple to operate. It has a generous sail plan, but no spinnkar. A number of good boats are still around, they represent good value.
Alf Harvey 1927
The Jollyboat has followed in the foot steps of his other fast designs like the Cherub, Javelin and the Mustang.
A regular writer in the Boating magazines, John was a champion to those who liked fast and easy to sail boats and never minded rattling the Status Quo in the Yachting Establishment.
Junior Cherub (John Spencer 1959)
Bear in mindtoo that many of those older dinghy classes were not “classes” at all in a strictly modern sense, but just a convenient grouping, based on hull length to shove boats that were not built to any set rules. e.g. O-class, T-class, Y-class, S-class, V-class covered anything andeverything withing a set length-parameter, from sailing dinks, cruisers, andother one-offs to flat out racers built to the edge of the set length and with as much sail an they were permitted to carry.
The only boats actually built to a set of class rules, when the Alpha-numeric sequences were set up in 1920/21 were the 4 mullet boat classes, H, I, L & N, and the three dinghy classes, M, X, and Z -class. Later on there were Idle Alongs and P-class.
Everything else, keelers included, were just classified into buckets where boats could be chucked, for sail-numbering purposes.
NZ’s first true dinghy class was the 18ft 6in Restricted patikiclass, designed for the Parnell Sailing Club in 1898, around a dozen were built and were the forerunners of the M-class in 1922.
The Emmy, as the M-Class Yacht is affectionately known, is one of the few traditional racing yacht classes that has survived the relentless march of progress. It is testimony to the quality of the Emmy and the dedication of those fine sportsmen committed to it that a class of expensive, wooden clinker boats continues to flourish in a world dominated by exotic, hi-tech materials and keel-boat racing.
Perhaps more than anything else, it is the comradeship that is at the heart of the Emmy’s appeal. For generations of yachties it has been the lasting friendships brought about by the close-knit racing and cruising scene that has made the class so special. At it’s cornerstone has been the unique facility of the Okahu Bay boat ramp where, with ten to fifteen boats andfour or five crew each, the entire complement gather at the same rigging area both before and after the race.
Des Townson 1959
Des Townsonthe designer of the Mistral Class Yacht saw that there was a gap in the yacht classes racing in Auckland. He saw the need for a yacht to replace the Silver Fern Class which had been a popular clinker built yacht, having nice lines and sailed by young chaps. It was early 1959 when Des was approached to design a two person yacht to complement his already very popular Zephyr yacht. Des went to work and produced his drawing for the “Mistral” Class Yacht. The plan was dated 8-6-1959.
The concept was for a parent and child yacht of one design. Des would build all the hulls on a wooden mould in the same way he was building the Zephyrs. Owners could finish the boats themselves but had to adhere closely to a set of finishing instructions.
Des built the prototype himself to the completely finished stage. It was built for Graham Fulton. It was named “Mistral”. But it was not to be the first Mistral to be launched. The honour of being the first to sail was Mistral number 8, “Sparkle”, owned by Robert Brooke. Neil Kennedy witnessed the initial sail “Yes, Robert Brooke did launch the first Mistral no 8, named Sparkle, I was at Bucklands Beach on the first Sunday he sailed it there. There was a fresh westerly blowing and he planed in from the Harbour, with it’s brilliant orange hull carving a white bow wave andleaving a long flat wake astern. When he came ashore you couldn’t see it for people crowding around asking questions!” What was most important was that here was a lively little yacht which was a delight to sail, was pretty to look at, and more important, it was a simple, yet seaworthy yacht able to handle Auckland’s often boisterous conditions, with a forward hand who was often very young.
There were sufficient Mistrals completed or near completion by the end of 1959 that in December of that year a meeting was called of interested people to form a governing body for the Class. At this meeting the Mistral Owners Association Incorporated was formed. Tamaki Yacht Club was chosen as the Home Club for the new class
Len Morris 1946
need more information
In parallel with the introduction of the Sunburst in the early 1970’s another group of ex-Arrow skippers proposed that a crewed class should be introduced that provided more exciting sailing for experienced members. After considering a number of options, a boat called “Willenpoof” was selected in 1973. This had been designed by John Spencer in 1957, but only a few hulls had been built. Discussions were initiated with the designer to introduce trapezes and spinnakers, and the name “Mustang” was settled on for the class.
need more information
P Class (Tauranga)
Harry Highet 1920
Kiwi yachting secret weapon
The P Class was designed in 1923 by Harry Highet and was officially known as the Tauranga Class. Over the years it has grown more sophisticated and has embraced modern technology but it remains more or less the same snub-nosed little seven-foot sailing boat, which first took New Zealand by storm so many years ago. It is without doubt the most enduring of all classes.
Competition in this class is fierce and to be successful it is necessary to
Have a good boat with good gear. Do not hesitate to get advice before purchasing a P Class without a racing record. The P Class is a difficult little boat to sail well. It is sometimes said that if you can sail a P Class you can sail anything. It is certainly true that the success which New Zealand has had in international youth and other sailing competitions is due in part to the good grounding in the boat handling skills provided by the P Class.
New skippers in the P Class start in the Junior Division and are promoted to the Senior Division if they perform well or at the discretion of the class co-ordinators.
All P Class skippers are encouraged to enter the P Class events mentioned in the programme plus any other out of town events as they occur. It is by experiencing the competition in different waters against different competitors that improvements in performance are made.
The most important event in the P Class calendar is the Tanner Cup (Interprovincial) and the Tauranga Cup (National Championships). These two Competitions are held in early January and this season will be held in Christchurch. All P Class skippers are eligible to sail in the Tauranga cup.
The Tanner Cup involves having one representative from each province racing for New Zealand’s foremost P Class trophy. These representatives are selected from trials held every year in each province. The Bay of Plenty trials this year will be held in Tauranga on the 1st & 2nd Nov, and in Rotorua the following weekend.
unrestricted; in some form since the 1930’s
The most controversial 12 was Kitty
In the 1951-52 winter season at the GlendowieBoating Club, Auckland, Dave Marks sailing his very successful “Pennant” Class boat “Pathetic” convinced some of the locals that increased sail area and big extras really gave racing a thrill. Ken Rushbrook in “Vanita”, Peter Nelson in “Futile”, Ian McRobbie in “Echo” and John Sharps in “Ada” quickly endorsed his view – so the nucleus of the “Q” Class was formed, or, as they were then known, the Flying Twelves.
need a lot of photos here
What is a 12 foot Skiff?
The 12 foot Skiff is one of the world’s most exciting boats – both from a sailor and spectator point of view. As a development class the skiffs are at the forefront of sailing innovation and technology. In various guises the class has been racing competitively in New Zealand and Australia since the late 1800’s.
unrestricted: Canterbury 1928
Sea Spray April 1951
Canterbury sponsors the new “Leander R. Class” on a National Basis
Every year more and more Canterbury yachtsman have been designing and building “Leander R Class” yachts, and the Class has become so popular that the Canterbury Sailing & Power Boat Association has approved the Class being put on a national basis.
Whereas other New Zealand yachting Classes are so severely restricted to one design that no scope is left for the builder for improvements, the “Leander R Class” is restricted only in size and power, and the design and gear is left “as free as the breeze,” giving the amateur boat builder and designer full scope to build better and faster boats.
In the official Specifications it is set out that the objects of the Class are “to give yachtsmen the opportunity of developing fast racing centre-board yachts by putting into practice their own ideas in design and build.”
This freedom in design has enabled amateur boatbuilders in Canterbury to build many beautiful racing dinghys. Some idea of their success may be judged by the fact, that although they are limited to 12ft 9in length and carry only 110sq. ft. of working sails plus a spinnaker, they will outsail any “Idle-Along” on any course in any weather. Visiting “Idle-Along” yachtsmen at the 1950 Moffat Cup Contest, who saw the Frantic R9perform at the Charteris Bay Club Regatta, will appreciate this statement. The best of the R Class will outsail any other small boat class at present in New Zealand, and will hold their own with “Sanders” Cup fourteen footers.
October 2008 We have lift off.
2 mates with a new R class Rat race, The guy in the jumper has just launched his new big R Class
Moose at the wheel of his new toy. He has promised the boys a clanger for breaking a board.
cheers Jubba, go hard, give em a taste of Kiwi.
we are all trimming for ya.
Back to the story, just had to put that last bit in.
Rothmans Father and Son (Murray’s Bay Boating Club 1956)
Silver Fern (Arch Logan 1934)
Des Townson the designer of the Mistral Class Yacht saw that there was a gap in the yacht classes racing in Auckland. He saw the need for a yacht to replace the Silver Fern Class which had been a popular clinker built yacht, having nice lines and sailed by young chaps.
The Starling was designed by Des Townsend and is an intermediate monotypetraining boat for skippers who have become too heavy or too old for P Class. P Class skippers usually find the step-up in speed quite exciting.
The Starling is an attractive boat three metres long and is governed by a one-design rule, this one-design rule cannot be altered unless approved by a majority of registered owners. Most boats are constructed of plywood whilst a competitive fibreglass version is also available. All sails are made by one manufacturer and are cut from the same pattern.
The Starling class has no age limit for the Nationals but the major trophies are for the 19 years of age and under. Most recently we have seen several Mums and Dads at our club join in the racing.
Championships are this year in Wellington, and will be preceded by the National Match Race Championships.
Selection for the BOP under 19 Match Racing rep will be decided from the trials in Tauranga during November.
J. B. Brook 1964
Photos by Andrew Patterson
Photo Simon Manning
T class (1922)
V class (George Honour 1922)
Wakatere One Design (J. Brooke 1932)
In 2002 the club celebrated its 75th anniversary having been started in 1926 as a sailing canoe club. In fact, Wakatere means fast canoe.
Around the mid 1920’s canoes were all the rage, their bright reds, blues, greens and yellows were all over the North Shore beaches. It was therefore inevitable that John Brooke and 20 other foundation members should form a club in Devonport and call it the Wakatere Canoe Club. Several canoes soon appeared in January 1927, and by February the same year some of the paddling canoes were fitted with lee boards, masts and sails, so that when the First Annual Regatta was held in March 1927, in a lively northeaster, the main event was a sailing race, which drew nine starters. The end of this first season was celebrated with a picnic at Rangitoto, a tradition which continues to this day. Then, five years later, the Wakatere one design skimmer was introduced,from this the Frostbite, Sunburst and Sabot were designed and introduced as the backbone of the club. Many top New Zealand sailors started their sailing at Wakatere in these classes.
X class (1918, 1920/21)
Y class (pre 1922)
Z class (Takapuna) (Bob Brown 1922)
Des Townson 1956
Des Townson was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, being made a Member NZ Order of Merit. It’s an award that has drawn very favourable comment from the NZ sailing community.
The Zephyr dinghy is an icon New Zealand yacht that has been around for nearly 50 years. The first two hundred or so hulls (#1 to 233) were personally built by designer Des Townson. A table of offsets and lines exist for construction, but all were taken off the one (maybe more) building jig(s). In the mid 1970s Christchurch sailors Maurice Hines, Austin Ebert, Bill Bain and Ken Maynard built #301-304 off a male they built themselves modelled on existing boats. This jig passed to Ray Frost, (#308-320) then Ian Franklin (#322-331). A small number of boats were built off this jig by amateurs (#305,307,321). About the same time a North Island jig was produced by Ian Cooke andused for # 234-239. The Christchurch jig was sent to Auckland and compared with the North Island jig and the North Island jig retained. This was used until the advent of a new jig for the cedar glass boats. Noel May and then Class Secretary Gary Adams built the jig used by boat builders Noel May, Gary Mathews and Pearson and Way to produce the “250 series” boats.
To reduce dependence upon a single jig, the ZOA commissioned Brett Bakewell-White to update and detail the original line drawings produced by Des Townson. A new mould for producing Zephyrs was constructed with builder Robert Brooke appointed to build new Zephyrs.
Sailing Dinghies at the NZ National Maritime Museum
Contact the NZNMM
“Flying Ant” added to Auckland collection
The “Hobson Horn” Newsletter for April 2004 reports that Bim FA 2, the first Flying Ant has been added to the Auckland collection. Bim was built by J. Somerville about 1959. The Flying Ant was designed by John Spencer for younger sailors to fill the gap between the P class and larger dinghies such as the Cherub and the Javelin.
Vintage Sailing Dinghy at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea
The Museum of Wellington City and Sea has the X class sailing dinghy Vanguard (X11). It is currently in storage.
References (in publication order)
“Little Ships. The story of the birth and growth of New Zealand’s yachting fleet from the earliest recorded events to the year 1940” , Ronald Carter, A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1944.Includes chapters on early square bilge designs, Logan brothers yachts, and plans of the forerunner of the V class.
“Yachting the New Zealand way”, John Dyson, Whitcombe and Tombs, 1966, has a photograph and page on most NZ classes common in the mid 1960’s.
“Record of the Golden Jubilee of Wakatere Boating Club”,WakatereBoating Club, Auckland., 1976. [no copy in National Library. A copy is in the Waitakere City Library.] Includes plans of the Wakatere One Design, Sunburst and Frostbite.
“Little Ships of New Zealand”, Paul Titchener, A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1978. Chapter 10 deals with small class racers.
“A Yachtsman’s Memories of Long Ago”, Ronald Carter, David Bateman, Auckland, 1980.Includes chapters on the Y class, Jack Logan and 18-footers.
“Traditional Boats” the Journal of the Traditional Small Craft Society. Issues 40 and 41 feature the X class (X class plans in issue 40).
“Emmy. Seventy Years of M-class Yachting”, Robin Elliott, Vintage Viewpoint, Auckland, 1994, 352 pages. Just about everything you could want to know about the class and a lot about its local yachting context too with heaps of photographs.
“Boats & Blokes”, George Brasell, Daphne Brasell Associates Press, Wellington, 1991 and 1995. Chapter 6 “The Cornwell Cup” (pp 40-45) gives a competitor’s view of the early national Z-class competitions 1926-28.
“New Zealand Yachting to the America’s Cup Part I: 1840 – 1960”, Harold Kid and Robin Elliott pages 171 – 181 in “Half a World Away. Seventeen papers presented to a maritime heritage conference in Auckland. New Zealand. 1997.” edited David Johnson & Peter Dennerley. (these conference proceedings may still be available from the NZ National Maritime Museum).
“Fast light boats: A Century of Kiwi Innovation”, Grahame Anderson, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 1999. An excellent, well-researched illustrated publication that international readers should find a readable and invaluable source on NZ-designed classes and NZ design.
This is a post in draft form. If some information needs to be changed please suggest it below. If you have an image and story you would like to add, please use the comment box,