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‘Starlight Still Sparkles’
by New Zealand Marine Artist Jim Bolland

Following several years of ownership in Wellington, the Laurie Davidson designed 55 footer ‘Starlight Express, returned to her original homeport Auckland, in late 2006.

Purchased by brothers Mike and Craig Wilson and Dan Stenhouse, this famous race boat will have new enthusiasm injected in to her already supersuccessful history that goes back to 1985, when she was built by McGaffin Boat Builders Ltd.

Laurie Davidson designed several well performed race/cruise yachts around the same size that were exceptionally quick and made names for themselves in the eighties and early nineties in regattas around the world, notably the Kenwood Cup series.

Like all Davidson boats, ‘Starlight Express’ still looks great and still sails well enough to be very competitive. Laurie is a very clever designer, but above all, an artist when drawing a hull!

‘Starlight Express’ Detail of acrylic sketch for oil painting © Jim Bolland

Here’s what Mike Wilson has to say about the trio’s new acquisition;

‘It was seen as a vessel that would satisfy our desire to compete in Coastal and Offshore racing events at a reasonably competitive level whilst also allowing us to cruise the NZ coastline and Pacific Islands.

‘I was aware, before buying her, that she was legendary within the NZ yachting scene, we are only just realizing the magnitude of this status.

Everyday, we are discovering more about her history and the people that have sailed on her.

‘Our current schedule of races is: Coastal classic 2007, Nexus Gold Cup Series 2007/2008, Round White Island Race 2007, Auckland to Fiji 2008.

‘No modifications are planned as we have become just as much attached to history as we, to the boat itself. Our first experience on her was a sea trial in Wellington (35-40knot northerly, gentle by Wellington standards) and we could not believe how fast we were going without trying. We signed the papers before the excitement wore off.

‘Early Days’

For the complete article, including discussions on ‘Starlight Express’, ‘Whispers II’, Torbjorn Tornquist, the TP-52 class 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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