Kathleen Gillett, Jack Earl’s famous double-ended ketch that competed in the first Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945, will race in this Sunday’s Great Veteran’s Race, conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Kathleen Gillett finished third over the line and fourth overall, to Captain John Illingworth’s Rani in that first Sydney Hobart yacht race. Earl, an artist and founding member of the Cruising Yacht Club, named his boat after his beloved wife. The boat was home to the couple and their children during the war years and was also used for NSW coastal patrol.
Charles Larsen built Kathleen over six years based on drawings and designs from Norwegian naval architect and designer Colin Archer. Kathleen Gillett was launched in March 1939, and was a world cruising yacht worthy of Archer’s designs, that were noted for their safety in heavy seas.
In June 1947, Jack Earl and crew set sail to circumnavigate the world in Kathleen – the second Australian yacht to complete this feat. Accounts of the journey were published in Seacraft magazine with illustrations provided by Earl.
After being sold by Earl in the 1950s, Kathleen’s adventurous career included island trade in Torres Strait and crocodile hunting expeditions around Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. In 1967 Kathleen became a cruising yacht, and again sailed in the Sydney Hobart yacht race. In 1987 the ketch, much changed from its original specifications, was located at Guam and purchased by the Norwegian Government as a Bicentennial gift to the people of Australia. Kathleen Gillett is permanently berthed at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour.
Kathleen Gillett will also be joined on the start line by Archina, that started in the 1945 Sydney Hobart but was forced to retire after gale weather resulted in extremely rough conditions that knocked the crew around significantly. Archina was undamaged but retired and sailed back to Sydney. Archina has since competed in five other Hobart races including the 50th anniversary race in 1994.
A fleet of 23 legendary Sydney Hobart yachts, with 131 Hobart races between them, will compete for the historic Windward Trophy that is presented to the first “Great Veteran” yacht on corrected time. These include Southerly (with new owners Rob McAuley and John Sheridan), Love & War (Simon Kurts), Maluka of Kermandie (Sean Langman), Fidelis (Nigel Stoke) and Stormy Petrel (Kevin O’Shea).
“Having two yachts that sailed in the 1945 Hobart race compete in the Great Veteran’s race some 65 plus years later is remarkable. Kathleen Gillett is part of the CYCA’s and Australia’s maritime history and my thanks to the Australian National Maritime Museum for making it possible for her to sail in this race,” CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre said.
The Great Veteran’s Race, is an annual tribute to those classic Sydney Hobart Yacht race yachts that sailed south in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s and is sailed in conjunction with the opening race of the Audi Winter Series, the non-pointscore Ladies Day race for the Jill McLay trophy.
The Ladies Day race is a tribute to Jill who was a long-term employee of the CYCA and died from cancer. 55 ladies will take the helm across four divisions – two spinnaker and two non-spinnaker. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting light winds with possible showers for Sunday.
The Audi Winter Series pointscore starts on Sunday 29 April with eleven races for nine spinnaker, two non-spinnaker and a Sydney 38OD division. The pointscore series will consist of 10 races, with up to three drops allowed, if all ten races are completed. The race scheduled for Sunday 10 June will be a non-pointscore race.
The great tradition of The Breakfast Club will continue once again with a band of passionate volunteers that provide crews with a traditional bbq breakfast before the day’s racing. All proceeds from Breakfast Club sales are used to purchase items for the club house to benefit members such as audio visual equipment.
The Bistro will also be open every Sunday morning to serve breakfast and after-race snacks. L Eat also offers a variety of onboard catering which must be pre-ordered - contact email@example.com for further information.
As well as great Musto gear for the top three in each division, all divisional placegetters go in the draw to win an Audi weekend drive.
Kathleen Gillett will also be berthed at the CYCA from 1-3 July to coincide with an information evening that the club is conducting on Tuesday 3 July for the benefits of CYCA members and guests. The evening will be led by Jack Earl’s grandson Ben Hawke and Kathleen Gillett first mate Mick Morris together with historic video material from Earl’s historic 1947 sail around the world. Register today at CYCA reception on 02 8292 7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Enter the Audi Winter Series today via www.cyca.com.au.
By Jennifer Crooks, CYCA Media
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