What were you doing in 1996? At school? Advancing your career? Raising children? Aucklander Malcolm Steedman was beginning the conversion of his Pelin Snowbird sailing catamaran: a project he’d only finish at the end of 2020 – just in time to put her on the market.
Volunteer was built in October 1888 during a wave of large yacht construction in Sydney in which her designer, Walter Reeks, played a large role. This upsurge of interest in yachting was at least partly attributable to the huge worldwide interest in the recent series of gladiatorial contests in the America’s Cup races off New York.
Ben Mayall was well-known as a competitive centreboard yachtsman just before and after the Great War. The Mayalls and the Couldreys were Northcote families who gained strong connections with Arch Logan, the wizard of Ngataringa Bay, across on the eastern shore of Shoal Bay.
The Couldrey family had a strong presence on the Auckland waterfront from the 1870s. Arnold (Bill) Couldrey became a major figure in New Zealand boatbuilding and design for over 30 years – one of the few that Arch Logan agreed could build his designs.
With grey, almost windlesconditions, no boat was likely to threaten the race record in October’s PIC Coastal Classic from Auckland to Russell. But for many sailors that’s irrelevant. The event’s always more about connecting with people and the sea – and marvelling at the star-studded heavens.