2013 is a notable year for the Elliott 5.9 fleet as 30 years will have passed since the first three boats made such an impact at the 100-strong 1983 NZ Trailer Yacht National Regatta sailed out of Bucklands Beach Yacht Club. It's fitting that the 2013 E5.9 Nationals will also be sailed from BBYC, as part of the 2013 Auckland Regatta. The event is supported by PICMarine Insurance Brokers and Doyle Sail makers.
After a successful Bay of Island Sailing Week Nationals in 2011, the class decided to join the Auckland Regatta for the milestone year. Although, and as anticipated, this has caused a few sailors to miss the event due to commitments to other boats, the Association felt it was a great chance to show off the class to the wider keelboat community.
These days the signature Elliott profile is unmistakable but in 1993 the boats, with their plumb stems, flared hulls and big cockpits were greeted with amusement by many of the crews in the established classes. This soon turned to astonishment and respect as these little flyers punched above their weight upwind and down, regardless of conditions.
Still racing after all these years
Remarkably, those first three boats built and raced in that event will all be sailing in this regatta, and all are expected to be serious contenders.
Brzo was launched and sailed by Garry Banks in time for the regatta and cleaned up D Division on line. Now owned, refurbished and raced by Gillian Williams and Class Association President Nathan Williams (RNZYS), the boat has always been fast and has won several Nationals over the years. Andrew 'Cookie' Cooke rounds out the crew.
Zoot Allures was reportedly still being finished an hour before the first race of the 1993 event. Sailed by owner Brett Reed, and with designer Greg Elliott on board, she cleaned up the E Division winning every race on line. The boat is now owned and raced by Dave Cochran (Onerahi) and is also a multiple National Champion.
The Blurr (then 'Mod') was launched just prior to the 1993 event and was sailed by owner Robert Cross who had never raced before. She sailed in the Open Division which was stacked full of Ross 780's, Elder 680's and Explorers. The Blurr carries the oldest sail number of the fleet and has been refurbished by Simon Manning and Andy Robertson of RAYC, Auckland. Sailing with Hayden Whitburn, the crew is the North Island Champion and also former National Champions on Voodoo. The Blurr/Mod has never won the national title.
Longevity is not restricted to those three boats. Many of the other early boats such as Voodoo, Cut Lunch, Elliott Ness, Ewok and Blownaway are all still racing actively and successfully in the Traveler Series.
Growth in the Class
Some well known sailors joined the class in 2012. Many have purchased boats while others have chartered to get a taste of the racing. Best known is Mike Sanderson, former world sailor of the year, who has made a return to the class after 21 years away - purchasing twice NZ Champ boat Icebreaker and upgrading the hull, rig and gear. Sanderson is a former National Champion in the class, when he launched and sailed Lambada in the early 1990's.
Other well known new owners include Chris Maddock (Animal Crackers), Brett Elliott and Nick Bastow (Shapeshifter) and Craig Coulam (Ewok).
Current National Champion Cam Horne and his crew on Slam Dunk are unable to sail due to an injury.
The Elliott 5.9 Class and Association
Offering close racing and great social events built around a North Island weekend regatta circuit, the Elliott 5.9 class is the perfect 3-person syndicate boat. The class is relatively low maintenance and is sailed by a crew of 3. No rail meat - everyone has a job! There are active fleets in Opua, Whangarei, Auckland, Wellington, and New Plymouth with boats in other venues like Lyttleton, Nelson and Queenstown.
The Association has undertaken several new initiatives including rule changes designed to improve the competitiveness and longevity of the boats, the supply of standard components as well as restarting hull/deck production. It operates a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/elliott5.9) that contains news, details of events, boats for sale and many photos including gear layout shots.
by Elliott 5.9 Class Association - 8:54 AM Sat 9 Mar 2013 GMT
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