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‘The Blue Ribband of NZ Yachting’
by New Zealand Marine Artist Jim Bolland

Before the great war of 1914-18 competitive sailing in New Zealand was still in its relative infancy. Remember, New Zealand is a very new country!

About the time that the schooner yacht ‘America’ sailed for England to challenge British sailors for that well known cup, our English forbears were still struggling to establish a foothold on our tiny land and any form of noncommercial sailing was restricted to a few wealthy families.

To give you an idea of the ‘recent’ development of sailing in NZ, the best known of our clubs, The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, was founded in Auckland in 1859. In Wellington, the Capital City, the club that was to be known as The Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, was formed in 1883.

Sailing on Wellington Harbour 1888

Auckland was and always will be the centre of sailing in New Zealand and keel yachts abounded there from the earliest days, but during those early days there were problems establishing a suitable small dinghy class for young men of lesser means.

Cutting a long story into a short story, things started to happen with a boom in yacht club membership following World War I and the efforts of a group of Auckland enthusiasts to establish a fourteen-foot sailing dinghy for boys.

Boosting this move was the news that Viscount Lord Jellicoe, a WW1 hero Admiral of the Royal Navy and keen yachtsman, was to arrive in New Zealand as Governor-General and he had expressed interest in getting involved in one-design class yacht racing on his arrival.

Unfortunately there was no one-design class of race yacht in New Zealand at the time, so with the thought of a Governor General actually sailing in their midst, the Royal New Zealand Yacht squadron immediately threw it’s weight behind the effort of the other groups establishing the 14 ft. dinghy class.

The 1916 drawings of the 14 ft. one design class.

However, those whose ambition it was to see the growth of a dinghy class for boys were concerned to discover that many of the new class were being built for experienced older sailors who were drawn to the idea of the competition promised by the one design.

For the complete article, including more discussions on THE BLUE RIBBAND OF NEW ZEALAND SAILING, the Breitling MedCup won by ‘Artemis’ 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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