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‘Wind Whisperer’
by New Zealand Marine Artist Jim Bolland

‘WIND WHISPERER’ (Detail). ©Jim Bolland 2007.

Geoff Stagg grew up in Eastbourne, a suburb close to the eastern shores of Wellington Harbour, just a short sprint from the Muritai Yacht Club where he made a name for himself as a young man in a hurry. He raced to win and took no prisoners. Fair, but tough!

After progressing through the very junior classes Stagg found success in New Zealand and Australia in the Cherub Class, a hard chine plywood 12 foot dinghy. His yacht was called ‘Whispers’, designed by the rapidly emerging Auckland designer John Spencer who, through the 1960’s and ‘70’s was championing hard chine, plywood yacht design and construction.

This was all happening during the late 1960’s, about the time that Chris Bouzaid took New Zealand sailing skills to Heligoland and demonstrated to the world in general that Kiwi’s can sail! Stagg was like a lot of young New Zealand yachtsmen who was inspired by Bouzaid’s success and he too, set his sights on distance racing in a bigger yacht.

He again turned to John Spencer and the design outcome was a 13.7 m. version of the late Sir Tom Clark’s 18.6 m ‘Infidel’, a downwind flyer, still racing ( now 19.8m long) in the U.S.A as ‘Ragtime’. Spencer had originally drawn the smaller boat in 1965.

Geoff Stagg and friends built the boat in a lean-to shed near the Stagg family home and launched ‘Whispers II’ in 1970. The new yacht was an immediate success and in the fresh to strong breezes that are the norm on Wellington Harbour, ‘Whispers II’ quickly became the yacht to beat.

‘Early Days’

For the complete article, including discussions on ‘Whispers II’, Geoff Stagg, and more, click here.

Visit Jim's website to see his paintings of the America's Cup as well as Commissioned works he has painted.

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