Alan Sefton was a friend and colleague of Sir Peter Blake. As a journalist, Alan covered many of Blake’s races. Their working relationship continued with Team New Zealand, and blakexpeditions.
In 1952 the New Zealand Yachting Federation was formed to prepare for the Melbourne Olympic Games, and to administer the national classes. Four years later, Cantabrians Peter Mander and Jack Cropp won a gold medal in the Sharpie class.
The sweet taste of international success, after a century of isolation, was enhanced 18 months later. Geoff Smale and Ralph Roberts won the Prince of Wales Cup in the International 14 class at Cowes, England.
In 1964 New Zealand once more won an Olympic gold medal in the Flying Dutchman class.
The outlook of New Zealand yachtsmen and designers became increasingly international and eclectic. Nouméa, Suva, trans-Tasman and coastwise races, like the Labour Weekend Coastal Classic, tested keel yachts and their crews to the limit.
There were some tragedies; yachts that disappeared, or foundered through whale strikes, or piled ashore in terrible weather. In the 1951 race from Wellington to Lyttelton, 10 people lost their lives. But there was an exponential improvement in standards of design and construction of boats and their gear, in safety standards and seamanship.
Southern Cross Cup
Three Kiwi yachts entered in the 1967–68 Southern Cross Cup, including the Sydney–Hobart race. Chris Bouzaid’s entry, Rainbow II, won the ocean race. The team came second overall in the Southern Cross Cup.
One Ton Cup
In 1968 Rainbow II was shipped to Germany for the One Ton Cup, and gained second place. In 1969 she won the event. New Zealand was emerging as a major force in world yachting.
One small step
New Zealanders heard about the success of Chris Bouzaid’s team in the One Ton Cup on 21 July 1969 – the same day that the first moon landing was broadcast. For certain New Zealanders glued to the radio, there was some doubt as to which was the more important achievement.
Young designers, experienced in the centreboard classes, began designing keel yachts of an international standard. Prominent were Laurie Davidson, John Spencer, Ron Given, Alan Warwick, Jim Young, Hal Wagstaff, Alan Wright, John Lidgard and Des Townson.
In 1979 the government introduced a 20% tax on boats. However, as boats built for export were exempt from the tax, some entrepreneurs developed this market. Expertise in infrastructures, designs and materials, and unrivalled standards of workmanship took New Zealand yachts to the cutting edge. New designers included Bruce Farr, Ron Holland, Paul Whiting and Greg Elliott.
International success turned amateur yachties into professionals. Kiwi men and women worked internationally, crewing in high-profile events, including the Whitbread Round the World race. With the rise of sponsorship, boats displayed corporate names and logos.
In 1980 Ceramco New Zealand won line and handicap honours in the Sydney–Hobart race. The yacht was skippered by Peter Blake and designed by Bruce Farr. Starting in the 1981–82 Whitbread race, Ceramco broke her mast in the South Atlantic, ending her chance of line honours. The team flew a new mast to Cape Town, and the yacht completed the race.
Blake’s subsequent career as both an offshore yachtsman and ambassador for the sport was outstanding. His multihull Steinlager 1 won the round-Australia race in 1988, and Enza won the Jules Verne trophy for a world circumnavigation in 1994. He won the 1988–89 Whitbread in Steinlager 2, while Grant Dalton won it again in 1994 in New Zealand Endeavour.
New Zealand’s advances in design, construction and seamanship led to the next step: presenting a challenge for the America’s Cup. more here
ENZA and the Jules Verne Challenge
As sailing technology improved and as the multihull community, the French in particular, pushed the limits ever further, thoughts began to turn to just how fast one could sail non-stop around the world. Taking existing performance data into account and overlaying that with the course and distance to sail, a theoretical time of close to 80 days seemed feasible.
Combine that with Jules Verne’s fictional character, Phileas Fogg, and the ingredients of an intriguing race against the clock was born. Blake had long been dreaming of making a record attempt and his plans had been enshrined in the triple Steinlager programme. Because multihull sailing was primarily the domain of the French, Blake ventured into the heart of France to throw down the gauntlet. In October 1992 at the Yacht Club de France in Paris he and British adventurer Sir Robin Knox-Johnston announced a joint bid for the Jules Verne Trophy would start early in 1993.
These modern racers, with their space-age materials and huge, fully-battened mainsails, are much more in keeping with the Cup’s image as the leading event in match race sailing.
San Diego 1992 marked the inauguration of this new breed. The New Zealand challenge built four boats, one of which was radically different from any others of that generation.
Though the New Zealanders looked poised to win the right to sail for the America’s Cup, they were beaten by the Italians.
Their next chance was 1995, which saw the dawn of the Black Magic era, led by the late Sir Peter Blake. Blake’s Team New Zealand, with Tom Schnackenberg leading the design team, defined the kind of boat they wanted; nothing too radical, no breakthrough gimmicks. Highly refined, minutely detailed and meticulously planned.
Like the earlier New Zealand campaigns, NZL-38 swept through the challenger rounds and went on to beat Dennis Conner in the America’s Cup Match itself. more here
NZL 32 & 38 prepare for winning the Cup.
More Americas Cup here
defending the cup ad
Connect To Sailing
Sailing….Have A Go is an exciting new initiative that will be launched by Yachting New Zealand in December 2005. The Northern Region commences as a pilot programme in February 2006 and the Central and Southern regions will be a launched in October 2006 – three regions in total.
Sailing….Have A Go is a Yachting New Zealand project that has been made possible by the Team NZ 2000 Trust. It is the common vision of the Trust and of Yachting New Zealand to establish nationwide opportunities for young people to experience the pleasure of sailing in a safe and well managed environment. Yachting New Zealand aims to enable their transition into yacht clubs and encourage their continued involvement in the sport.
Olympians Barbara KENDALL and Dean BARKER have offered their support as Ambassadors to the programme and The Sir Peter Blake Trust has given Yachting New Zealand permission to use the images and quotes of Sir Peter as inspiration for our young participants.
Each region will have six Optimists and three Cadet dinghies which will be transported together with one coach boat in an enclosed trailer to a participating Yacht Club. This will give twelve intermediate school children the opportunity to participate at any one time.
Sailing…. Have A Go will offer a number of programme structures delivered by a qualified instructor but the one day ‘challenge’ should prove the most popular. The day will be full of sailing games and activities which will focus on having fun but also teach team work, discipline and give self confidence.
The scheme aims to introduce approximately ten to 15 thousand into sailing over the next five years and while not all will be retained, it is anticipated that many can be encouraged to join a club and the sport for life. more here
The only thing harder than winning the Americas Cup, is defending it.
In 2000 Team New Zealand won 5-0 v Prada, Painted by AD Blake, Peters Brother
Peter had other adventures to attend to