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A Little History

I note with interest from the December issue of Boating NZ that your National and World champ's are being held in New Plymouth, Feb 2004, and thought you might be interested in a bit of history.

In the mid 60's, whilst living in Taupo and after a number of years in Kitty Class (Kool Kat), I purchased the state-of-the-art KZ 54, "HUSTLER", from one Ron Given for the enormous sum of $500; the most anybody had ever paid for an A! She was of cold moulded ply construction with aluminium mast, as they all were at that time and had all the go-fast gadgets such as circular traveller track, compasses in each hull and highfield levers to burn. She was probably the first A Class to have the Ron Given designed shock cord dagger board rudders as fitted to the Paper Tiger. If my memory serves me correctly, Ron had at that time recently campaigned the boat in Aus., but needed the money to develop the Tiger Shark, which was to be the 18 foot version of the highly successful Paper Tiger. I clearly remember seeing the prototype under his house.

HUSTLER was referred to by Ron as a GTF design, being Mr Given, Mr Tennant and you guessed it, Mr. Farr. I owned HUSTLER for a couple of years and enjoyed excellent local success, but pretty average at a national level against a very quick South Island design. I eventually sold the boat to a Mr Wiig from Hawkes Bay for, I believe $500.

As a matter of interest, The Lake Taupo Y C had about 9 A's and during that time started the North Island Fresh Water Catamaran Champs, consisting of Kitty Class, A and B Class and Paper Tigers, (and one 16' Shearwater) with 2 races sailed in Taupo and 2 in Turangi. Such personalities as Kieth McKinven in his wing masted B Class BOADECIA and a most entertaining pipe smoking guitar playing character, (who's name unfortunately escapes me), sailing his beloved BETTINA. He was/is a landscape designer from Titirangi who, during one Taupo regatta, had this huge agricultural alarm clock taped to his mast on the pretext that it was a starting timer. The joke was on the rest of the fleet after his crew, very loudly, counted down the seconds and started the rest of the fleet about 10 seconds early!

The regattas were an absolute riot, but the sailing was deadly.

I then purchased my second A Class, "CHRISTOPHER J" from Robin McMaster of Boyd and McMaster fame. She too was of cold moulded ply construction but had been neglected and was wet. She spent the winter up-side-down, full of light bulbs to dry her out and was repainted light blue, the same colour as Hustler. CHRISTOPHER J, named after Robin's young (very young) son, was fitted with a tiny pocket hankerchief jib in an endeavour to assist tacking. The penalty of a reduced main was too great and the jib was abandoned, a new main was purchased and 'tacking on trapeze' was perfected to overcome the problem.

While I'm now elligible for the veteran division of your regatta, I'm still sailing my keel boat around the Gulf and often wonder what happened to my two A Class. If any of your members know I would be gratefull to hear from them.

I wish you well for the National and World championship regattas in February.


Ray Davies


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