The Sydney Hobart Classic Yacht Regatta is a unique regatta that recognises the contribution of classic yachts to the traditions and history of the bluewater classic.
The event is open to any yacht that has a launch date prior to 1976 and has competed in a Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
One such entrant is RPAYC Member Alan Reece and his Sparkman and Stephens (S&S) 42 ‘Vittoria’.
Built for the late and great Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams, the S&S 42 design is a head-turner every time she is seen sailing on the water.
Vittoria was built by Cec Quilkey in cold-moulded Oregon four diagonal planks building up to a hull thickness of one inch. It has an 8.8 tonne weigh-in but is only 30 feet at the waterline, thanks to the easily identifiable and fine curved S&S bow.
The boat’s first Sydney to Hobart race was only months after its launch in 1970 and its best performance in a bluewater race, fifth outright and seventh on corrected time. The boat went on to compete in eight more Sydney Hobarts, the last in 1978. Vittoria also competed in the inaugural Sydney to Suva race in 1976. On the way back to Australia the boat accidentally hit and was then rammed by a cranky Sperm whale, smashing the rudder and sending the boat and crew limping into Brisbane port for repairs.
Reece is only the fourth custodian of Vittoria and he knows with ownership comes a responsibility to preserve Vittoria as a piece of yachting history.
Now living in Pittwater on Sydney’s northern beaches, Vittoria is out racing weekly in both the RPAYC Wednesday & Saturday Series year-round.
It won the classic boat division at the 2017 Australia Day regatta and is doing the rounds of wooden boat shows, where invariably someone remembers Vittoria or wants to share their story with Reece of when they crewed on the boat sometime in the past 47 years.
“The enjoyment is from the type of boat and meeting people through it, everywhere I go there are connections,” Reece says. “It’s beautifully made and I keep it nice. It does have mod-cons including electric winches so I can sail it short-handed, which makes it more usable.
“It goes well in big seas, steers like a car and doesn’t smash like the new boats, I’m aiming to use it as much as I can; that’s what owning a boat is all about.”
Racing for the Classic Yacht Regatta starts with a non-pointscore Invitation Race (Scratch) on Friday 10 December in the afternoon ahead of Race 1 (Pursuit) Saturday 11 December followed by Race 2 (Scratch) Sunday 12 December.