Sydney Hobart 2015

Ramping up again for my 7th Rolex Sydney Hobart race this Boxing Day (Dec 26th) aboard a truly iconic Sparkman & Stephens design built in Tasmania:

Landfall, a one-off built in 1935, is the first Sparkman and Stephens yacht built outside of the USA. S&S was then at the beginning of what was to become the most famous yacht design firm in the world. Olin Stephens, just 25 at the time, was extremely surprised to find his first overseas commission came, not from Europe, but from Tasmania.

Built by Percy Coverdale at Battery Point, the yacht has been sailed continuously ever since. Landfall finished 7th in the 1952 Sydney Hobart and at 40 years of age she competed in the 1976 race finishing mid fleet.

…2014 Sydney to Hobart – To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Rolex Sydney Hobart and her 80th birthday Landfall raced south again on Boxing Day.  She’s now back for the international ocean racing classic in 2015!  Landfall can boast being the oldest lady in the fleet that has previously contested the Sydney Hobart… 

“It’s great the CYCA recognises older boats with the Corinthian division.”  Mike Strong is proud of his pretty timber boat: “She was originally a Yawl and was built in Tasmania of Huon Pine. She still has the original copper nails. The boat has been checked over and is still in beautiful condition.”

Strong has owned her for 20 years and converted her to a sloop. He had sails made to suit, but the rest remains as was, and has hopes of doing well in the 628 nautical mile race.

Landfall was the beginning of the S&S dominance on the world stage, winning seven Hobart races overall. Most famous were Morning Cloud (1969) owned by Edward Heath who was to became Prime Minister of the UK in 1970, and three-time winner Love & War (1974, 1978 and 2006) owned by Peter Kurts and after his passing, son Simon.

The design has also won line honours, most notably Jim Kilroy’s Kialoa II from the USA in 1971 and in 1975, Kialoa III set a new record which she held until 1996, during which time she took line honours again, in 1977.

Still popular, there will be five S&S’s this year: Landfall, Love & War, aiming for a record fourth overall win, Tina of Melbourne (Andy Doolan), Quikpoint Azzurro purchased and lovingly restored by Shane Kearns, and Ray White Spirit of Koomooloo (Mike Freebairn). Originally Ragamuffin, she was top Australian point scorer at the 1969 Admiral’s Cup.

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.  Follow via the web:




New Contessa 26 Book


A new book published for the 50th Anniversary of the Contessa 26 (the type of vessel I sailed around the world! …A few excerpts regarding my ‘lap’ below 😉

“…The first 50 years is a milestone in anyone’s terms, but for a boat design to achieve all she has and still be very active as a class is very significant.  The Contessa 26 conceived by Jeremy Rogers in his yard in Lymington is as actively cruised, raced and loved by its owners now as it was when it first burst onto the sailing scene in 1966.

As part of the celebrations to commemorate the history of this amazing little yacht the UK Contessa Class Association will publish a 96 page full color hardback book compiled from owners contributions in time for the AGM in Lymington on the 14th November 2015 at the RLYC…”

…Much more in the book about the many other sailors that have used the Contessa for their own dreams!


…The youngest solo world girdler in those days was Brian (BJ) Caldwell. His boat, Mai Miti Vavau, was another of J.J.Taylor’s Canadian boats. When I asked Caldwell why he chose a Contessa 26, he replied. “…Because it was the best value for a solo boat for the budget I had at the time. I was looking at an Albin Vega 27 but it was more expensive and didn’t come with as much equipment such as a wind vane and solar panels.


I had a top day of 186 nautical miles while sailing northwest of the Galapagos Islands and my next best were across the Indian Ocean when I had consecutive 140-146 nautical mile days.”  But, unlike Tania, Caldwell was already an experienced sailor. He had started ocean voyaging when just 9 years old, cruising aboard his Father’s yacht.

He said:
“After growing up cruising in the South Pacific with my family, we returned to our home-port in Honolulu when I was 15 years old. My dream was to keep sailing, so I set my sights on the record for the World’s youngest solo circumnavigation. In 1995, exactly one hundred years after Joshua Slocum’s departure (on the first ever solo circumnavigation) I departed. Sixteen months and 27,000 miles later, I became the youngest solo circumnavigator.”

Caldwell’s’ voyage really stands out because of the speed with which he achieved it; a testimony to his own determination and the Contessa’s extraordinary performance capabilities. He covered the first 3,400 miles leg in 34 days. The next 4,400 miles took just 40 days as he and his Contessa 26 sped into the record books.

BJ Caldwell made his mark on the Class and the world by becoming the youngest sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation .

He writes:
Once I’d decided to go for the youngest solo circumnavigation, it was time to find the ‘tool’ or rather, the boat for the voyage. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, it would need to be a balance of proven reliability and a meagre budget to maximize my chances of leaving on schedule and finishing before my 21st birthday.


Thus, when we found a Contessa 26 for sale in Hawaii that
also included a Monitor wind-vane and solar panels for the right price – $10,000 – it was a no-brainer…The fact the design had already completed a solo circumnavigation with Tania Aebi was a major factor in to her pedigree.

She served me well, enduring a rollover in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius, and a proper gale off the coast of South Africa. Whenever there was any wind, she would always make a 100 + mile/24 hour run which enabled me to sail 4,400-nautical miles nonstop from Vanuatu to Cocos Keeling in 40-days. My best day’s run was 186-nautical miles with favourable current and multiple 140+ nautical mile days without current.

My circumnavigation with ‘pit-stops’ lasted 16-months all up with 264-days sailing time in total. While I later owned an Albin Vega 27 and currently an S&S 34, the Contessa 26 was the perfect solution for a small budget to empower the dream of cutting the dock- lines with limited finances at a young age. Would I do that 16-month circumnavigation again with Maimitivavau? Absolutely, perhaps a hundred more times…Once is truly not enough!