Please select your home edition
Edition
J Composites 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Sparkman & Stephens pre-Hobart sail past – 60 years of design achievement

by Lisa Ratcliff, OCC 9 Dec 2019 07:10 PST
S&S fleet © Dallas Kilponen

On a quiet and hazy Sydney Harbour morning, before the traffic of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Classic Yacht Regatta and Trophy Series race, weekend boaties, ferries and Christmas charters, some special Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race entrants gathered in front of the famous Sydney Opera House sails.

Back-dropped by the one of the city's most recognised cultural and architectural icon, six timeless Sparkman & Stephens designs of varying size and vintage assembled for a unique sail past photo opportunity coordinated by yachting journalist/sailor Lisa Ratcliff and captured by photographer/sailor Dallas Kilponen.

Ranging from the 34ft Komatsu Azzurro to the largest, Kialoa II at 73 feet, there is plenty of Sydney Hobart Race pedigree among the elegant S&S gang about to tackle the 628 nautical mile stretch along the New South Wales and Victorian coastline then into Bass Strait - a sometimes challenging patch of water with a fearsome reputation - and finally, down the dramatic Tasmanian east coast to the finish in Hobart's Derwent River.

Simon Kurts' S&S 47 Love and War is a three-time Sydney Hobart overall winner, one of only two in the race's 74-year annals to achieve such an honour. With a phenomenal 172 Hobarts among nine crew and navigator royalty Lindsay May plotting course, we can expect big things of the cold-moulded Oregon and Maple build, launched in 1973 for the late Peter Kurts.

Paddy, Melinda and Keith Broughton's well-travelled Kialoa II, originally a sloop then a yawl, was the 1971 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours winner. Commissioned by Jim Kilroy, who created the Kialoa legend, Kialoa II was regarded as cutting-edge for the time, given the lightweight aluminum rather than tried and tested timber hull construction. The 75th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart will be the Kialoa II's third preeminent CYCA bluewater classic on the trot, and the Sydney boat is extremely well-prepared given the owners took four months out of the year to be part of the 50th anniversary Transpac Race, a 2,225 nautical mile slog from Los Angles to Honolulu.

Ashok Mani's S&S 48 Windrose and Shane Kearns' 1981-launched sloop were transformed from rotting forgotten hulls to their now graceful, near-original condition, taking time and an injection of cash that likely will never balance against the purchase price. Each owner spotted the beautiful design-lines of the dilapidated hulls in different parts of the world and fell in love.

Komatsu Azzurro has raced extensively in Southern Ocean waters, the Sydney-based S&S 34 earning major IRC trophies along the way, while the yawl-rigged Windrose, which lives in Singapore, is new to the ocean-going scene and a Hobart first-timer. Windrose launched in 1959 for Jacob Isbrandtsen to join the USA Admiral's Cup team that year; two years later the Cup left British shores for the first time ever, thanks to the team of Windrose, Cyan and Figaro.

Now gearing up for a third Sydney Hobart, owner of the grand Swan 65 ketch Eve, Steve Capell, says, "My favourite thing about owning an S&S is the amazing smooth ocean passage-making performance. She just parts the waves like a freight train; no slapping or pounding. There can be a gale above deck, and you wouldn't know it down below. Four years on from buying Eve I look at her in the water or dockside and she still stirs my heart."

The dark blue-hulled S&S 39 from Middle Harbour, Galaxy III, is readying for the boat's fifth Sydney Hobart and the first for latest owner Chris Canty, who was inspired to buy into the class by Jon Sanders and Jessica Watson's successful circumnavigations. He agrees the S&Ss have a reputation for solid, sea-kindly designs. "The two things I most like about owning an S&S are that the boat took me around the world in 2018, and the compliments on her lines from people passing by on the dock."

With their (mostly) cream sails against the Opera House's towering solid sails and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the six crews gathered to show off the fine profiles and design achievements of the world-famous pairing of Olin Stephens and Drake Sparkman, who founded the brokerage and naval architecture house Sparkman & Stephens back in 1929.

It is too far out from the Boxing Day start for long-range weather rumblings, but if the S&S owners had their way they'd order reaching or headwinds with a reasonable sea state on the side. The planing boats, particularly the TP52s, have surfed away with the elusive Tattersall Cup for the past four years and if another decent summer nor'easter blows the bumper anniversary fleet southwards, chances are the modern boats will again prevail on corrected time results.

Lindsay May's Christmas wish from Santa is "for Love and War to see an upwind race in a seaway - that's when she's a rocket ship for handicap". It's yet to be determined who's been naughty and who's been nice.

Related Articles

CYCA provides update on 2021 RSHYR
100 days to go 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, home of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, remains hopeful the 'Great Race' will return in 2021. Posted on 17 Sep
2021 RSHYR surpasses 50th entry milestone
A growing fleet for the return of the great race The 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has reached its first major milestone, with more than 50 boats already part of a growing fleet for the return of the Great Race. Posted on 30 Jul
Entries open for Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
The 77th edition of ocean racing's 'Everest' Excitement is building for the return of the historic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with entries now open for the 77th edition of ocean racing's 'Everest'. Posted on 15 Jun
Virtual Rolex Sydney Hobart victors
166,000 competitors register and take part in the 628-nautical-mile race The 2020 online Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race conducted by Virtual Regatta was one for the record book. Posted on 4 Jan
Boxing Kangaroos win the Virtual Sydney Hobart
International team of virtual racers beat 549 teams In a tightly fought race The Boxing Kangaroos, an international team of virtual yacht racers, beat 549 teams in the Virtual Rolex Sydney Hobart late Monday night claiming first place in the Team standings. Posted on 29 Dec 2020
Rolex Sydney Hobart Flashback Montage
17 years of the Bow Caddy Team's coverage In the context of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race's unbroken record of 75 consecutive races, the 17 years of the Bow Caddy Team's coverage of the event makes us relative rookies on scene still! Posted on 27 Dec 2020
2020 RSHYR continues in Virtual Regatta
Sailors can still take part in the great race online Whilst the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has unfortunately been cancelled, sailors and fans alike can still take part in the Great Race through Virtual Regatta. Posted on 23 Dec 2020
Sydney Hobart: Rupert Henry on 2-handed sailing
Prior to the race's cancellation due to Covid-19, this video gives a detailed look into this class Filmed before the event's cancellation, Rupert Henry, an experienced two-handed sailor gives some insights into what it takes to campaign a short handed off-shore race, in preparing the for the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Posted on 20 Dec 2020
2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race cancelled
Amid COVID-19 concerns arising from the Northern Beaches area It is with great regret that the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia announces that the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will not be proceeding in 2020. Posted on 19 Dec 2020
Stacey Jackson's grand vision for Women in RSHYR
Stacey Jackson has a grand vision for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Stacey Jackson has a grand vision for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - that being, the day when there is parity in numbers between male and female sailors entered. Posted on 17 Dec 2020
Lloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px2 BOTTOMRooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERSea Sure 2021 - Transom Fittings - FOOTER