CMYC Notable Club Members
Norm is the Club’s Patron and as we all know has been a member of CMYC for a good number of years and has always been a contributor towards the good of the club. His easy going manner has won many friends both from within the club and from the many members of the public whom regularly watch our on the water activities. Norm’s PR efforts and his dedication to CMYC, was such that the club made him a well deserved Life Member.
These days he doesn’t sail so much but is still a very keen member and loves to come and talk to the sailors, but in years gone by he never failed to sail “Whoopee”, his Canterbury J class boat. It was a delight to see him win a race, which didn’t happen very often as historic race results show. It never deterred him though, he just really enjoyed his sailing. If you see Norm at the lake, please do make the effort to chat with him. Many of our newer members do not know him, so I beg you take the time to chat. Ask him anything about the history of the club in his time and he will happily tell you.
Norm has always been very generous towards the club and has donated much over the years, including “The Norman Hill”, our club dinghy – used to lay out the marks for racing and also to retrieve a wayward yacht or two that has ‘lost control’.
His wife Lena was a poet, and this one is very appropriate:
The Last of the Summer Wine
Come on Lena! Out of bed! You know this is the day
Get cracking on my breakfast, Cos at 10 I’ll leave to play
My batteries are charged, No lunch you’ll have to make
Cos my roll and banana, I will be eating at the lake
I will get ‘Whoopee’ in the car, Maybe a race I’ll win
But with Peter, Ian and Leon there, My chances will be slim
But I enjoy the sailing, Up and down the lake
If I was 10 years younger, Another yacht I’d make
Last week was exciting, We were all on TV
Oh we were very proud, For every one to see
It’s nearly 10 o’clock, No time for a kiss
For today is Wednesday, No race I want to miss!
– by Lena Hill 2005
Extract from ‘Victoria Waters’
Long-memoried Brian Wall recalls that the club had many single men, often from the upper crust of Christchurch society, for whom model yachting was an obsession and passion. Some who left their mark were .
Waino Sarelius, a Finn and honorary Finnish consul, joined the club in 1900 and built Sans Atout (No Trumps) in 1915. She was constructed from mahogany planks, fixed with brass screws and was the club champion for many years. Sarelius was also the maternal grandfather of Gavin Britt who was responsible for the club revival in the 1960s. Sans Atout was sold to W. Kingston but was recovered from the Kingston family much later by Gavin who re-rigged the boat with a Bermudan rig and vane self steering. She sailed in the vintage centenary events in 1998, eighty-three years after being launched.
Bert George was a Cornishman, the only one often brothers and sisters to emigrate to New Zealand. He arrived in NZ in 1912 and was a WWI veteran. An agricultural labourer he later worked at Kempthorne Prosser’s chemical factory. He lived for forty-seven years at Church Corner. He was said to have built sixty-five model yachts, mostly 4’6″ and dug out, making at least one boat a year for himself or others. As a farm worker at Longbeach, South Canterbury, he would select a log for a model boat, often willow, and submerge it in a stream for some months to get the sap out then let it dry naturally to become the basis of a model carved from the solid. Most boats were made by eye and were typified by their full bows and wide transoms. The hatch for these boats would inevitably be a polish tin lid. Some boats built and sailed: were Beverly, Rusty, Truro, Sea Rover, Gwen, Whitewings, Irene Il, Defiance. Many of them have been restored to full sailing standard.
Brian ‘Granny’ Wall joined the CMYC in 1934 as an 11 year-old junior He began the way many children do with a small 2 ft model that had a movable rudder.This was taken to the lake and the rudder set over so it would ‘come back’ but to Brian’s frustration it sailed in ever diminishing circles. Luckily he had a friend whose father (Dick Reeves) was a member of the club and able to help set up the model so it balanced and sailed using a mainsheet controlled tiller. Dick as having beautifully built boats with magnificent fittings – a suitable mentor for someone who would repeat these special skills himself.
Brian found it hard to be accepted as a junior. Many of the members were pillars of Christchurch society, set in their ways and not too accepting of outsiders. They certainly did not easily offer their knowledge and experience.
From this beginning Brian acquired Dawn, a 4’6″ built by Ernie Jackson. Later he had Invader which won the club championship in 1938, then later, Alert and Tuit.
After the war Brian built the radical Tempest out of New Zealand cedar, kawaka, a light but very brittle timber. The boat, fast on all points of sailing, was not only lighter but had less than a 14″ beam and was able to carry more sail with 361b of lead. The shape was wedge-like with a cut away stern to allow a clean water flow from the rudder. Instead of being seam batten construction its hull was built of 3/32″ planks butted together. This was before modern marine glues so the hull had to be kept moist to prevent it opening out. Knowing Brian’s woodworking skills this would have been a fairly watertight boat. Free-sailing boats are often involved in collisions and Tempest received her fair share, but broken planks would be efficiently repaired by Brian ready to sail in the next race. Tempest, scratch boat and club champion for many years, appears on all the club’s major trophies.
Moving away from models, Brian became involved in the development of the R Class sailing dinghy and sailed in the crew of the champion Mander 18 footer, Intrigue.
A lifetime spent in building and developing boats as a child is still maintained through links with both full size and models. Brian was part of the centennial celebrations and enjoyed catching up with the sport and those who took part.There is one unanswered question – what happened to Tempest?
Club membership declined in the late 50s and 60s and was more or less in recess. Bert George and Brian were trustees of the club’s assets and with Gavin Britt’s arrival and the revival of the club with the Marblehead class, it was with some caution that the club’s substantial funds were made available to the revitalized club. It took eighteen months for the first cheque to be released to the new committee of the CMYC.
Malcolm Scott joined the CMYC during the 1939-40 season as a 14 year old, this was in the heyday of the 46′ racing six lengths ofthe lake – a distance of one mile.
Like Brian Wall, Malcolm would go to the lake after school to experiment with model yachts. He made a half size 4’6″, carved out of green willow. This ‘2’ 3″‘ was very successful; like current designs it trimmed with the stern out of the water.
There were more juniors involved in the club then. Malcolm was part of a group that included Alex Trethewey, Bob Monroe, Jack Spencer and Brian Wall – Brian sailing Invader, a boat heavier than the lead! Malcolm sailed many 4’6″ boats including Defiance, Mako, Naomi and Invader.
During the 1950s when the CMYC was quiet Malcolm Scott added to his interests powered model aircraft, but he returned to the club in the 1960s when the club was being promoted by Gavin Britt at a local boat show. As a’come-on’ Gavin offered one of the new fibreglass Marblehead hulls as a prize for a raffle. It was won by a nun who sold the boat to Clarrie Gorrie who, in turn, sold it on to Malcolm. This boat, Enterprise, a Witchcraft Marblehead, became very successful and won many championships.
Marbleheads spawned a second renaissance of the club and Malcolm’s long service on the committee. He became secretary in 1970, a post he has cheerfully held to the present day. The club revival at this time coincided with the building of new club rooms on the present site which was helped with the opening of the park to car parking, a move initiated by the then Christchurch mayor, Ron Guthrie.
The advent of the vane-controlled, free-sailing Marblehead saw up to twenty six boats at the New Zealand Championships held at the lake and regular trips to compete at a shingle pit at Mataura, lnvercargill.
Contemporary English designs by Stollery and Dicks and radio control were introduced by club member, Peter Platt. Malcolm bought his first radiocontrolled boat Lipstik from Fred Martin of Auckland. Fred’s daughter Wendy had won the National Marblehead Champs with this boat and as it had a deep draught there was concern that it might not float on Lake Victoria. Malcolm wanted the fin cut down but Fred wasn’t keen, it seemed too drastic for the design, and in the end just a small amount was taken off the keel. Lipstick gave much pleasure and still appears on the lake.
Today Malcolm sails radio-controlled boats, first an EC12 Wild One, destroyed in a burglary of the club, and now replaced by a J Class. He has also been the technical expert on sailing the fleet of restored 46″ and although he modestly prefers to admire the skills of others rather than his own his latest boat was carefully supervised by the experts and was often whisked away to have the next part of the construction completed.
No mean sailor, Malcolm knows that sailing close to the bank has huge advantages and his boat will often appear from nowhere to take the flag. His dedication to the club is legendary, in fact he is the Christchurch Model Yacht Club, whether organising club events, running meetings, welcoming new members or encouraging youngsters.
Gavin Britt can be credited with saving the CMYC from extinction by introducing a new class of model yacht to the lake made out of new materials. As well as through his distinguished maternal grandfather, Waino Sarelius, Gavin had another introduction to model yacht construction as a pupil at Christchurch South Intermediate School where the woodwork teacher, Eric Morrison, ran a club that made a basic model yacht carved from the solid. It was the ambition of every boy to get into this club. The Morrison family had strong associations with cabinet making, boat building and sailing and Gavin would apply the same model boat building skills as a primary school teacher He enabled many of his pupils to develop the building and sailing skill necessary to produce a model yacht and his pupils invariably became members of the CMYC.
Through his foresight he developed fibreglass technology to produce the International Marblehead and A classes. The Witchcraft(Marblehead) andats of Highlander (A Class) were produced from moulds, produced by Gavin, Eric Elderton and Clarrie Gorrie and quickly superseded the 4’6″ because of their ease of production and high standard of finish.
With Gavin’s drive the New Zealand Marblehead championships were held at the lake in 1970 and 1971 , the free-sailing boats competing in pairs, a beat and a run, on a round robin basis. His teaching links with Southland were also maintained with trips to Mataura to sail with people he had introduced to model sailing.
Radio control has not interested Gavin much at all, he much prefers the free sailing and appears when we have Vintage Days with either a Marblehead or the 4′ 6″, usually to be either winner or well placed. There is a strong move for free-sailing vintage yachts world wide and our club is in the strong position to host an International event.
VICTORIA WATER , Hugh Hobden , Euan Sarginon