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The Ceramco Files- 'We've somewhat slowed down'

by Peter Montgomery on 12 Sep 2011
The mess on the deck of Ceramco New Zealand just after the mast broke, and on the right the crew soon have the first jury rig underway and the boat sailing again. Ceramco NZ
Next week it is the 25th anniversary of the dismasting of Ceramco New Zealand. Over the next few days, Sail-World will be featuring a series of images and sound clips from one of the seminal moments in New Zealand yachting culture.

Ceramco New Zealand skipper Peter Blake makes two calls back to Peter Montgomery, telling New Zealand what happened just after 1230pm about 100 miles north of Ascension Island on September 21, 1981.

In the first clip, Blake describes the scene leading up to the breakage of Ceramco's mast, and how the crew rigged an initial jury rig and are continuing in the 1981-82 Whitbread Round the World Race.

From the log of Ceramco New Zealand:

Day 24: Monday, September 21.


Noon position 05.27S 14.09W
Day’s run 207 miles. Course 195 degrees.
Wind SE 23 to 28 knots. Barometer 1016.

'Ceramco forges south into settled trade winds. The seas are lumpy but moderate, the skies clear. Last night I spoke to Warwick White in Auckland to report progress, then Jim Lidgard to arrange some sail alterations in Cape Town, and finally Pippa to discuss her journey to South Africa and find out the latest from race headquarters.

'We were rocketing along under No. 4 genoa, sometimes No. 3, reefing in and out as the wind strength varied through the morning. I went below soon after noon to plot the day’s run. We were 100 miles to the north of Ascension Island. Suddenly there was an almighty bang and crash from up top. Ceramco came upright and slowed. I leapt for the hatch, yelling for the off-watch crew as I went. I didn’t need to look to know what had happened. We’d broken the mast.'


In the second sound clip, Blake calls Peter Montgomery on the first Saturday after the mast fell down, and gives an insight to the varying crew reactions.

Peter Montgomery recalls: 'Although the broken mast on Ceramco was bad news at the time.

'Sir Tom Clark was so impressed with the guts and determination of Peter Blake and his crew not giving up and sailing 4400 nautical miles under jury rig.

'That was the key reason Sir Tom backed Peter Blake into Lion New Zealand with unfinished business.

'And as we know that moved on to the stunning campaign of Steinlager2 that won every leg and the 89/90 Race overall and the NZ sailing family tree continued on to America’s Cup glory.

'So you can trace the disaster of Ceramco’s mast to New Zealand winning the two prime time events in sailing.'

And if you were involved in a Whitbread or Volvo Round the World Race, don't forget the 25th Ceramco Mast Party at the Royal Akarana YC on the 21st September starting at 1800hrs.

See the links below for the two voice files. These should start in your regular player, but if not, please 'right click' in the link; 'save target' to your Desktop; the file should save itself; next, right click on the file, and select the program you wish to use to play back (usually Windows Media Player) and play in the normal way, with the volume up, initially

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