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Western Australia - Recollections on Boats and their Sailors

The following article from the RFBYC Club Magazine Tidings  published in 1970 was recently re-published and stirred the memories of many of the Dragons sailors with a number offering comments and their own recollections below. 

The Prince Philip Cup and Interdominion Championship series for the Dragon Class has recently been  concluded in Adelaide, where twenty-six yachts from all States and New Zealand competed, six of which were from this Club.


Tony Manford and his crew Bob Day and Tarn Thompson (sailing Leander) made a clean  sweep in winning both events.  Steve Parker, David Cruickshank and Rod Evans in Saracen finished third in  the  Prince Philip Cup  and equal fourth in the Interdominion Championship with Darkie sailed by Syd Corser, Peter Hein and Paul Holland finishing sixth in the Prince Philip Cup.


The placings of the other W,A. Dragons were: Simone sailed by Barry (Bun) Lynn, twelfth and sixteenth; Volare, Neville Stafford, fifteenth and thirteenth; Suzanne, Dallas Dempster, twentieth and  nineteenth. The New  Zealand entry, Barco Del Oro II, sailed by Don Brown  and  his two sons was very consistent, being  second in  the  Prince Philip Cup and third in the Interdominion  Championship

Recollections from  Geoff Totterdell  - April 2020

Of interest is the sailing notes referring to the Dragon championships. The New Zealand entry Barco Del Oro 11 is the boat now named Hotspur .


As I recall she represented New Zealand in the Olympic Games and was brought to Perth by Keith Kempin. In those times  her hull was a tan colour. She was painted blue and renamed when purchased by Peter Packer, Wlly and Ron’s Dad. Keith Kempin is deceased but his brother Ron sails a cruising yacht named  Samantha was is located on F Jetty. You will see reference to Peter Packer’s then ocean racer Hotspur  in which Ron won an Ocean race then aged 18.

Note also in the Tidings from 1970 that Sandra Paul (now Sandy Anderson) joined the Club and I changed status from a Junior to Ordinary member.

In those times, in keeping with the Liquor Laws of the day, an Ordinary member commenced at 21 years of age. 

Further Comment from John Low  

The good ship [Dragon] Hotspur came 5th in the 1972 Munich games representing NZ as Barco Del Oro . It was then brought to Perth by Keith Kempin , with Rob Hubbard crewing on it for the first few seasons, and was the first GRP Dragon registered in Australia.  The colour is a 1978 Mercedes Blue – similar to the Tottenham Hotspur FC colour.

We still have the historical Measurement Certificates issued on each change of ownership with the Peter Packer buying it in 1981 and subsequent owners being Lyndon Brown and the Stevenson family.  Interestingly the measurement certificates indicate the yacht was built and first measured in July 1972 by Borrensens in Denmark in advance of sailing in the Olympics in Kiel in September – thus the NZ yacht referred to in the 1970 Prince Philip Cup in Adelaide must have been an earlier model.  

A couple of anecdotal stories conveyed to me over the past 5 years include Willy Packer / Ian Campbell & Peter Hammond taking off for Geelong in January 1987 to compete in the PPC (came 2nd) & World Championships (5th). Apparently Peter Packer was unaware they had departed with boat in tow!. A second story is that Wendy Stevenson largely submerged her as she sailed through the finishing line in the last heat of the PPC in Perth in 2002 after which it subsequently sank!  She is still in sound shape and form a couple of years short of being 50 years old and being actively raced for most of them.     

A Couple More  Notes from Geoff Totterdell
Other points of interest from the Sailing notes is that some of the Dragons referenced are still sailing.

Leander  DKA 96 and formerly owner by former Commodore and Vice Patron Tony Manford  is now in Hobart and racing.

Darkie DKA 109 is now owned by Jennie Fitzhardinghe and named Aeolus.

Dallas Dempster sailed a boat named  Suzanne DKA 104 which is now owned by Steve Gilmour (joint owner of  Sea Joy) and currently being restored. 

The Dragon recently advertised for sale Crusader DKA 2 was Tony Manford’s first Leander, a Prince Philip Cup winner and was the first Dragon in WA brought here by Ernie Tomlinson in about 1952.

Comment from Rod Williams

I seem to remember that Andy told me that D144 was used to make the moulds for the Bellarine Borrensens so named as the boat builder was at Bellarine near Geelong.  D144 was from the Danish Borrensen builder.


Comments from former Commodore and Vice Patron, Ron Packer

I was the Ethan of my day!  At 18 I was able to skipper Dad’s first Hotspur, a Swan 36, in the race from Albany to Bunbury and then to Fremantle with Chink Longley, Andrew Locke, Mike Lefroy, Paul Hammond (brother of Rob) and Mark Cubitt. Two months earlier we had sailed Hotspur’ from Hobart to Melbourne after the Hobart Race and John Anderson was with us. All Dragon sailors to this day!!  The joke was that two years later I was an officer in the Australian Army in command of 33 men training for Vietnam and I was still a Junior Member at RFBYC and not allowed in the bar!!


Recollections  from Rob Hubbard

I started sailing on DKA 144 (now named Hotspur ) in 1972 when Keith Kempin bought the boat from the Kiwi who had the boat built for the 1972 Kiel Olympics. The boat was named Deloro following his previous timber Dragon named Barco Del Oro which meant “Ship of Gold” with Deloro meaning “of Gold” ( the colour was a softer tone than tan, more like a beige ). Keith was a builder and a terrific fellow who, prior to buying Deloro, had sailed with older brother Ron on Philante ( DKA 4 if the memory still works ) and a man who died too early in life. Steve Parker ( father of Tony, Rob and Suzie ) who was a good mate of my father’s talked me into having a sail in Dragons. That was 48 years ago and I’m still in the fleet… says heaps for the class of yacht and the terrific people that have sailed in the fleet over the years.

I don’t recall DKA 144 being a mould for other boats, however I can’t be definitive. Jimmy Sim, a Geelong boat builder, built a number of boats in the 70’s and 80,s and probably most of the sail numbers between 147 and 170 were his boats. He also moulded the hull of 174 for Walter Johnson who was a long-time dragonner with firstly 96 ( formerly Tony Manford’s Leander ) then 154 ( Richard Timms and Mark Caddy could verify or refute this sail number ) before having the “floppy” hull of 174 delivered to his garage at 12 Jutland Parade where Tony Lynn spent many months hand-crafting the ribs, then deck, then everything else to turn her into a terrific boat called Windigo. I was lucky enough to get a new tiller from Walter for my Dragon Crusader DKA 2 which I had bought with David Melsom and Greg O’Sullivan some time earlier (and had subsequently become the sole owner ) which was a reject from Walter but way above my then financial expectations. I was also lucky enough some years later to have success in the boat  with Bun Lynn, Mark Lynn and Don Kyle. It’s interesting now that Lowey and Ethan now have both 144 and 174 which are both very solid boats which have had success. It’s obvious that they have recognition of a good pedigree!

Comment from  former Commodore Mark Cubitt

This self isolation has sure brought the couch historians and it's great.  

I made DKA1 into a sort of entertainment unit for Andy Locke at his house. I left it distressed as indeed it was but now preserved.

Solveig  was  sadly vandalized in the club now lives on my back verandah in Dandaragan as a bar refreshment area. So appropriate!!

Jessica Fitzy's much loved woodie was passed to me after being crushed by the crane coming adrift. I salvaged the stern section which Tony asked me to do and it is mounted outside the Athol Hobbs room upstairs. It used to be in the main bar near the pool table. Timmsy and his committee relocated it upstairs and I have never forgiven him. Dragon sailors should be manning the ramparts!!  Keep up this thread. It is very entertaining. 

Further Comment from Peter Hay regarding DKA144 and its use as a mould

I am not sure this is correct as I believe the mould was imported and inside it was a complete hull and deck which no duty was paid and I think the boat was once owned by Peter Morris in Sydney and we always referred to her as the Illegal Immigrant.  Unfortunately the mould was lost in a fire in a barn

When Ken Stevenson owned it the original deck was removed and the a new deck was fitted from the latest moulds with a lot of internal strengthening etc and down to min weight.

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