In December 1934 the Tattersfield brothers missed out the Tauranga race in Janet for the first time in many years, probably because of Noel Tattersfield’s absence sailing with Georg Dibbern on Te Rapunga in the Trans-Tasman race to Melbourne.

Instead, they took a leisurely cruise to the Bay of Islands. Returning to Auckland they booked Janet in for a thorough overhaul at W.G. Lowe & Son’s yard at Beaumont Street to make a good start for the 1935 season.

On January 19, 1935 Akarana ran its second Balokovic Cup race. The first race, in January 1932, was over a tough 180mile course from Auckland, around Sail Rock, outside Great Barrier, around Cuvier and back, which showed the superiority of Harold George and his rugged yacht Victory. Victory was the only entry in 1933 and 1934 so the races were abandoned.

With the chance of an easterly blow the race was too tough for the smaller keel yachts and mullet boats. Akarana now reduced the course to 84 miles, from start to Canoe Rock, Channel Island and back. The club also provided separate races around Waiheke for the smaller classes to be held in conjunction with the Cup race. The Tattersfields entered Janet in the shorter event but came in last in a field of four with Iona, May Belle and Eulalie.

Nga Toa with HMS Renown.

At the end of January, the Auckland Anniversary Regatta was held in light winds. Janet finished well back in the C Class race. It was on the Squadron night race to Kawau on February 1, 1935 that the Tattersfields in Janet first encountered Lt Home Kidston’s glamorous Altair. In a field of 21 yachts, Ariki was on scratch, Altair was on 19 minutes, Janet on 36 minutes. There was a light southerly which petered out, but the rest of the weekend, with the Ladies’ Race in particular, was highly enjoyable.

The two yachts were out again in the Squadron’s Berthon Barrel race on March 30, a cruising race to Matiatia. The Berthon Barrel was a miniature oak cask made from timbers of HMS Orpheus wrecked on the Manukau Bar in 1863 and presented to the Squadron by Commander Berthon of HMNZS Philomel when he returned to England two years before. Probably not entirely coincidentally, Cdr Berthon was from the same family as the founder of the company, Berthon Boat Co., that had built Altair at Lymington on the Solent. It was another light day but Janet won on handicap.


Breaking into this narrative, it is time to mention some Tattersfield centreboard and launch sidelines. In June 1934 it was announced that ‘Tattersfield and Hanham’ had bought the crack 18-footer Mystic (V2) from Macindoe and Owen and had taken her over to the Manukau from the Waitematā. I am guessing that the ‘Tattersfield’ was Peter. The Tattersfield family’s beach property at French Bay was handy. Mystic was a square-bilge 18-footer designed and built by George Honour of Parnell in 1923, a sister-ship to Magic. She did well in racing on the Manukau.

As the economy recovered from the depths of the Depression, Guy’s workload at Tattersfield Ltd became fairly heavy. He had married in 1932 and had a young family. For family cruising he bought the 35ft launch Marne which was built by Collings & Bell in 1919 for use as a hire boat on the harbour. She came fitted with a Fay & Bowen 40hp ‘Reliable 40’ engine, a similar model to that fitted in the Arch Logan-built Coquette. Marne survives today as Margaret S.

The Tattersfields had a passion for trout fishing. In May 1935 Guy hired the 26ft Taupo launch Pandora (formerly Lapwing) to fish in the western bays with his family, reeling in 40 fish in two days.

The same month, another Tattersfield (almost certainly Noel), bought the crack 16-footer Rival, S17, as a small boat companion to his ownership of Janet. Bert Woollacott had built Rival in 1922, soon after he arrived in New Zealand. She had a reasonable racing history and had spent the last two years at Howick. Noel seems to have used her as a knockabout.

Then, in September 1935, it was announced that J. H. Curd, formerly of Pukekohe, had bought Janet and that Guy and Noel Tattersfield and G. Mills had bought Lt. Home Kidston’s Altair (see SIDEBAR). The Tattersfields had her hauled out. Her royal blue hull paint was burnt off and a fresh coat of white applied. They had their eyes on winning the Tauranga race in December.


Altair’s first race under the Tattersfields’ ownership was on Opening Day, November 16, a cruising race to Matiatia in a fresh northerly. Altair performed well, finishing just behind Nga Toa for a handicap second. On November 30 she had “a great go for the line” and came a close second to Windward in an Akarana B Class race. On December 14 Altair was exercised in a Squadron harbour race which was won by Waione.

Ten days later, on Christmas Eve at 7pm, the Tauranga race started from Kings Wharf as usual. There was a strong field of 12 entries, Nga Toa was on scratch and Altair on two hours 35 minutes. Her crew were Noel and Felix Tattersfield, G. Mills, P. Martin, D. Fenwick and C. Hawkins. Janet was there too, with her new owners, on four hours 52 minutes. The fleet left into a light northerly which turned fickle and into a calm for a while. When a westerly came in, Nga Toa was first across the line at Mount Maunganui, but Altair was second, an hour and 45 minutes later, to clinch the win on handicap and the big prize, the Colin Norris Memorial Cup. After the race, Altair left for Kawau direct on her summer cruise.

For 1936 Altair raced in all the Akarana, Devonport and Squadron keel yacht events. The Squadron had promoted her to lead its Second Division and she had gone to scratch in the Akarana B Class races. On January 18 Altair was one of the entrants in Akarana’s third Balokovic Cup race. Here was the reason the Tattersfields had gone up the big step from Janet to Altair. There was a fresh SW breeze at the start of the 84-mile race. With some brilliant tactics in rounding Waiheke, Altair looked certain to come in first but ran into a soft patch in the Motuihe Channel and was beaten in by scratch boat Moana.

The rest of the season was most satisfactory for the Tattersfields, starting with a second on line and handicap in the Anniversary Regatta. In the Squadron’s Kawau events, Altair came third in the night race, third in the Ladies Race, helmed by Miss Janet Wallace, Noel’s fiancée, and second in the General Handicap race. There followed a string of firsts, seconds and thirds culminating with a win in the combined race to Coromandel in April.

Noel Tattersfield went back to his centreboard roots by taking part in the Akarana ‘midgets’ winter dinghy racing series in Wee Pat while his brother Peter sailed Kenya Pup (obviously a Len Heard boat). These winter series races deserve an article of their own in the future.

When the new season started in November Altair continued being a major contender in the Second Division. Her biggest rival was the 1896 Logan Bros cutter Windward; they were often within seconds of one another. In December, Altair entered the Tauranga race again; the new Logan/ Couldrey yacht Waiomo was on scratch, Altair right behind her on 30 minutes. Again, the wind was patchy. Queenie, Altair, Scout and Windward were left in a hole in the Bay of Plenty while Waiomo literally drifted across the finish line to win on line and handicap. BNZ

Windward in the 1930’s.
Guy Tattersfield’s launch Marne. Kotuku astern of her.


Altair was built, as Bird o’ Freedom, by the Berthon Boat Co at Lymington in the West Solent in 1928 as a 6 metre. By 1934 she no longer rated as a 6 metre and had joined the Solent Q Class for ‘improved’ 6 metres which was essentially a ‘handicap’ class. She was built of mahogany on elm frames and painted royal blue, a bit of a shock in Auckland where white hulls were the rule because of the harshness of our sunlight.

Her dimensions were 38ft loa, 25ft lwl, 7ft 6in beam, 5ft 4in draught and she carried 670 sq ft of sail in a Bermudan sloop rig on a 55ft mast. She was the first imported yacht since Tom Henderson’s Volunteer in 1893. Immediately after her arrival in Auckland on the Remuera on January 28, 1935, the day before the Anniversary Regatta, Kidston renamed her Altair, after the Lockheed Altair monoplane he was keen to buy to replace his brother, Glen Kidston’s Lockheed Vega.

NEXT TIME IN JULY ISSUE Altair through to 1938, Felix joins the Navy and Guy joins NAPS, The Naval Auxiliary Patrol Service.