Australia's 12M America's Cup ladies of old, Australia and Steak 'N Kidney stopped briefly in Mooloolaba on their way south to their new home in Sydney, giving the members of Mooloolaba Yacht Club a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sail aboard these two historic vessels.
The two 19 metre KA-5 Australia & KA-14 Steak ‘N Kidney are warhorses of Australia’s many challenges in the famed America’s Cup. They were constructed under the old design rule of 12 Meters and represented an era of America’s Cup racing when the competing yachts were designed to be elegant and fast.
Both yachts are now owned by the Australian 12m Historic Trust which was formed for the purposes of acquiring, restoring and preserving Australia’s former America’s Cup 12 Meter Rule racing yachts.
Led by trust president Ben Morgan, two classic yachts have been acquired so far - the 1977 and 1980 America's Cup challenger KA-5 Australia and the 1987 America's Cup KA-14 Steak n Kidney.
Both yachts resided derelict at Airlie Beach for several years and after having been used for day charter several years earlier.
On purchasing the yachts, Morgan and his volunteer team put the yachts through an intensive two- month refit in preparation for their voyage from Mackay Harbour via Sydney and ultimately to their new home of Wollongong. As the yachts travel south Morgan has arranged for them to be available for the public to view and for local sailors to enjoy a short day sail or join in on one of the delivery stages.
Mooloolaba visit of Australia’s America’s Cup history, this is how you do it when it comes to sailing these elegant ladies - Tracey Johnstone © Click Here to view large photo
Steak 'N Kidney skipper Jay Lazarus gives final instructions to members of his crew.
The yachts have been in Mooloolaba this week, hosted by Mooloolaba Yacht Club at The Wharf. While there Australian 12M Historic Trust president, Benjamin Morgan, organised for club members to hop on board and fulfil their dream of sailing a classic America's Cup yacht.
Even though they think they are seasoned salties, MYC Rear-Commodore Sailing, MYC Executive Member David Hawthorne and John Cooke, could not contain their excitement on being able to sail aboard Australia on their home waters.
Owned by the Alan Bond and designed using the latest technology and innovative design concepts off the drawing board of Ben Lexcen, Australia won its right to challenge for the America’s Cup in the 1977 series, held off Newport on Rhode Island, USA.
Up against the USA’s yacht, Courageous, Australia was defeated in all four races. She was fast and sailed well, but couldn’t make a dint in the American’s slick defence.
Late in 1979 Australia underwent extensive modifications in readiness for the 1980 America’s Cup. Skippered by Sir James Hardy, Australia beat out three other contenders to win the right to again challenge for the America’s Cup. On the race course and up against the USA’s newest 12M defender, Freedom, Australia was beaten again losing four aces to one.
During the early 80s Australia was used by the British as a trialling boat before Syd Fischer bought her in 1985 to use as a trial horse against in 1987 challenger, Steak ‘N Kidney.
Steak ‘N Kidney was one of the several Australian boats that raced for the right to represent Australia in its defence of the America’s Cup in Perth in 1987
The boat proved to be very fast, but the syndicate lacked funds. Their campaign program was too late to be competitive and as a result the boat was short on the latest sails and good crew. She was one of the last 12 Meter Rule yachts ever designed and many have agreed since that, she was one of the fastest.
Steak ‘N Kidney was designed by Peter Cole, built by Consolidated Marine and owned by Sydney-based ocean racing legend, Syd Fischer.
This classic 12M has been operating as a 25 passenger charter vessel, match racing against 1977 challenger, 'Australia.' In 2004 she was refitted for charter and repainted to original colors of white and pale blue.
For more information on the yachts, go http://www.australian12m.com/