Event: Kingham Trophy & Sanders Cup
Dates: 10th, 11th & 12th March
Host: Bay of Island Yacht Club
Over the long Easter weekend, the Sanders Memorial Cup will be awarded to the winner of a series of seven races. The Sanders Cup is the oldest inter-provincial challenge still sailed for under its original inception.
This year, the Javelin Skiffs compete for this honour on Parua Bay of Whangarei Harbour. Defending the trophy for Northland are Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd on Phlipnhel, who recently won the South Pacific title in Perth. The challengers from the Manawatu are David Brown and Mark Gatti on Trailblazer, and Auckland is represented by Sara Watters and Hamish Norton on Thumper. Antje Muller and Milly Joseph on Hot Gossip are joining the open regatta but decided to fly and “L” on their sail as they are the only complete ladies crew.
Hosted by Whangarei Crusing Club
On Friday, the invitation race for the Kingham Trophy was open to all comers, and preceded two Sanders Cup races.
In light airs, the first start was favoured at the boat and Trailblazer got away well but did not go as far left as Phlipnhel who first looked lost but then got a shift and pressure to come into the mark rolling over Trailblazer.
Thumper had good breeze on the right and came around the top first but had their retrieval rigged wrong, and downwind they were further slowed by the gennaker dragging in the water. On the second upwind, Hot Gossip got into third place and defended that to the finish, celebrating that the oldest boat could hand in there. Phlipnhel took the lead and sailed away from Trailblazer on the second lap with the places staying the same around the last complete lap.
Congratulations to Phlipnhel for winning the Kingham Trophy!
In the first Sanders Cup race, the start was closely contested. Manawatu were close to the start boat but Northland thought they could squeeze in. When they touched the inner distance mark, the Ladies called them to take their penalty. They did, and lost the boom off the gooseneck in the process, but still were in touch with the other boats after completing their turn. In terms of speed upwind, the 1981-built Hot Gossip still kept up with the speed of the latest carbon boats – She was a Sanders Cup winner when she was young but now is more than 20 years older than all of the other yachts.
At the first top mark, all competitors were very close together. Manawatu went around first and opted for a gybe-set, but Northland managed to gybe inside and roll them. The ladies were last and decided to try something different by hoisting and going to the Eastern side of the course. They had the luck of picking up good pressure there, which meant they were in touch again with the fleet at the bottom. The course was shortened to be only two laps. On the last downwind, Northland had secured their lead. The Ladies went East again and came back into the finish wiring which saw them take second place ahead of Auckland and Manawatu.
For the second race, Auckland changed their jib setting and had much better upwind pointing. Manawatu got a good start and arrived at the top mark together with Northland. This time, they tried the Eastern side of the course while Northland went towards the harbour. From the layline, Manawatu picked up enough pressure to be trapezing, affording them a comfortable lead at the bottom gate. The places remained the same around the last two laps. There was slightly more pressure and a lot more sunshine, which made for comfortable racing.
While Northland are fully on form, the racing was mixed enough to predict a close contest. There are 5 races to go with one discard coming in once 6 races are completed.
Sanders Cup Results
Northland 1 2
Manawatu 3 1
Auckland 2 3
Open Regatta Results
Kingham R1 R2
Phlipnhel 1 1 2
Trailblazer 2 4 1
Hot Gossip 3 2 3
Thumper 4 3 4
On Easter Sunday, the Sanders Cup was decided on the waters of Parua Bay in Whangarei.
With light winds forecast, the Committee decided to head out on the water straight away on the second day to take advantage of the little breeze that still was around at lunchtime. There was a light wind from the Southwest.
With the pin strongly favoured at the start, Northland opted for a port hand start and got away with it, because the rest of the fleet could not lay the pin. They went over the right hand side of the course, picking up good pressure and a lift to get up to the mark. The Ladies tried the left hand side that looked like more pressure and enjoyed some good lifts but never got the wiring pressure. Second around the mark was Auckland with Manawatu in third.
By the bottom mark, Northland had substantially extended their lead and the fleet was quite drawn out. The wind died however and swung around, which mixed things up again. When the Ladies got to the bottom mark, there was enough breeze from the new direction for them to hoist a gennaker, which saw them catch up to Manawatu by the top mark where the course was shortened to two laps. Northland got two thirds up the last leg when the wind disappeared, which gave Auckland a chance to catch up and for a short time overtake them.
Phil and Craig showed their joint experience and managed to gingerly put Northland across the line first, admitting it was a stressful day on the water though. On the downwind leg, that was now something between a beat and a reach, the Ladies were lucky again and found enough patches of wind to finish in third.
After the finish, the boats drifted around aimlessly for a while until the Committee shifted to set up for another start for a light Southeast breeze, but it did not stay in. Finally, racing was postponed to the next day.
Apart from Northland, the fleet is very close together and looking forward to another sunny day with hopefully a bit more breeze.
Whangarei served up brilliant sunshine again for the third day of racing. The breeze was light to start with but came up as the competition progressed.
In the fourth race, the wind was light but slightly stronger than the previous day. The pin was strongly favoured, and this time the Ladies took the chance and started on port. Luckily for them, they crossed ahead of the fleet and took the right hand side they thought promised pressure. At the top mark, Northland was ahead again though, followed by Manawatu and Auckland. On the second beat to windward, Auckland were successful on the right-hand side and overtook Manawatu who had gone toward the harbour. It was a long race but the places remained the same through the last round. The leaders only just made the time limit by about a minute.
On the fifth start, Manawatu shut out Auckland who narrowly ducked inside just after the gun but in turn closed out the Ladies who had to gybe around before crossing the line. It was close between Northland and Auckland at the top mark and Manawatu was just behind them. The latter managed to creep into second place through the second lap but Auckland rounded the top mark inside them in the third round. Gybing around the mark and hoisting on port that advantage increased as they caught a gust and shift to accelerate away. This saw Auckland getting close to Northland and fighting hard to try and overtake the leaders. In the end however, a few slow gybes saw them finish only just ahead of Manawatu with the Ladies trailing.
Hoping that a port start might work out better than what they experienced at the boat, the Ladies tried for a port start again in race six but this time could not clear Northland and had to tack with the fleet. All four boats were very close together up the first beat and Manawatu rounded the first mark ahead of Auckland and Northland. However picking some good shifts up the second beat together with superior boat speed saw the boat from the top of the North Island in first place again at the second windward mark. On the downwind legs, the wind was comparatively steady but Manawatu went into shore and caught up to Northland again. They lost it again when they hunted the pressure out towards the harbour even though they were trapezing more than the other competitors. Manawatu held on to second place for this race but were still third over all. Allegedly the lack of photographic evidence was due to an empty battery.
For the last race of the series, the wind picked up to a wiring breeze and the crews took the helm on Phlipnhel and Hot Gossip. This did not slow Northland down at all. Even though they were one minute early for their start (claiming later it was for practice), they managed to line up again well enough for the actual gun. It seems like Phil was to blame anyway as he admitted to never ceasing to give instructions.
The fleet stayed close together around the two laps. Northland was leading with Manawatu in second place. Thumper tried the left hand side but it did not work out, which saw them finishing in third place. This gave second place over all to Manawatu on countback. Hot Gossip did well staying in touch; this contest was the first time for Milly on a Javelin, and this was the first race she skippered. For the first time in this series, Phil crossed the finishing line first, crowing his eighth Sanders Cup win.
This beautiful contest was wound up by a friendly prize giving. The fleet was deeply grateful for the volunteers giving up their time and accommodating the preference of the sailors. In the Sanders Cup, Sara Watters was presented the DFL trophy (for the last place boat that finished all races) by previous holder Antje Muller. Vice Commodore Joan Livingstone presented the Sanders Cup to Northland sailors Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd.
The Sanders Cup is one of NZ’s most prestigious trophies and has been contested since 1921. A summary about the varied history of this interprovincial challenge can be read by clicking here
The next regatta of the Javelin fleet is the North Island Championship held at Evans Bay on 9/10 April.
The dates below are confirmed, except where stated they are not. There are a few holes at the moment. If you have any suggestions or requests please let us know by commenting below.
Traveler Series: North Island Sprints
dates: Sat & Sun, 17th & 18th October 2015
host: Rotorua Yacht Club
South Pacifics training: Auckland (venue to be decided)
dates: tbc (early November, maybe even Labour weekend)
host: (to be decided, but somewhere in Auckland for sure)
Just because you can: Napier Summer Regatta
dates: Sat & Sun, 28th & 29th November 2015
host: Napier Sailing Club
Just because you can: Sir Peter Blake Regatta
dates: Sat & Sun, 5th & 6th December 2015
host: Torbay Sailing Club
South Pacifics: 45th Australian Javelin Championships & South Pacific Championships
dates: 28th Dec 2015 to 4th Jan 2016
host: Perth Dinghy Sailing Club
Just because you can: Napier New Year Regatta
dates: 1st to 3rd Jan 2016
host: Napier Sailing Club
Nationals: Might River Power Regatta
dates: Fri, Sat & Sun, 10th, 11th & 12th March 2015
host: Lake Taupo Yacht Club
Sanders Cup: Whangarei
host: Whangarei Cruising Club
note: All boats welcome, regional representatives only qualify
North Island Champs: Evan’s Bay Regatta
dates: Sat & Sun, 9th & 10th April
host: Evan’s Bay Yacht & Motor Boat Club
In April 1916, Sub Lieutenant W.E. Sanders (a New Zealander serving with the RNR) joined HMS “Sapina” as Second in Command. When a year later Q ships were adopted as a means of combating the submarine menace Sanders volunteered for service and was given command of the Topsail Schooner “Prize” and promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.
On the evening of April 30th, 1917 the “Prize” was 120 miles south of Ireland when they spotted a U93 running awash. The submarine opened fire from 4000 yards sending her first shells well over the schooner. As a courtesy gesture, at this the schooner lowered her topsails and a well drilled “Panic Party” manned their boat and pushed off. Sanders and his gun crews laid hidden waiting for the submarine to come close, however the German commander was suspicious and kept firing as he closed in, reducing the “Prize” to a mass of wreckage.
Sanders and his men stuck to their posts as shell after shell battered the hull. During this time Sanders was perfectly cool and occasionally crept forward on his hands and knees to visit the forward gun crews and ascertain how they were withstanding the shell fire.
Finally convinced the schooner was in sinking condition the Germans ceased fire and steamed close to get the ships particulars. Sanders decided the moment he had waited forty minutes for had come and with a blast from his whistle the gunscreens clanged down, the white ensign fluttered up the mast and the “Prize” opened fire. The first salvo disabled the submarines forward gun. She turned and ran preparing to dive while three men manned the after gun only to be sent swimming by the “Prizes” shells. The submarine was last seen settling in the water stern first, her bow straight up in the air.
Severely damaged the “Prize” limped to port carrying with her the German U boat commander and others rescued from the water.
Sanders was awarded the V.C. on June 27. 1917 but never lived to receive it as the “Prize” was sunk with all hands on August 14, 1917 by a torpedo from a German U Boat.
For his services in this action, Sanders was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
In the months that followed the 1927 Sanders Cup, the Betty measurement saga rumbled on in ever more tedious fashion, kept alive by accusers and defenders alike. Infuriatingly, no one actually did anything, other than insinuate and make vague generalisations based on both their own, and received, “expert knowledge”. In the history of New Zealand yachting, we doubt whether there has ever been anything more tiresome than the Sanders Cup measurement wrangles, and none more so than those that surrounded Betty. (Oh, except for the Moffat Cup measurement disputes of the 1950’s – remember the `Outcry batten’?).
The Otago Association even made veiled threats that they would not enter the next contest. This stance eased somewhat during the winter of 1927, when they requested a complete set of plans, stamped as being correct, to the latest set of restrictions. Given the problems they had experienced back in 1922 when they were provided with obsolete plans, this was perhaps understandable. Their request was complied with and the plans that had produced Avalon and Murihiku II were sent south.
Aucklanders luckily, were spared the excesses of the Betty saga. Their main problem was that apart from Wilkie Wilkinson and a few others, no one in Auckland cared a fig for the Sanders Cup. The Auckland selection trials were notable for the desperate panic to commission any boat fit enough to start with Avalon, let alone race against her. Wellington challenged with a new boat Wellesley II, like her predecessor, built for the members of the Wellesley Club, while Otago’s new boat, was named Eileen, although the local wags reported that it was named OLC (Otago’s Last Chance). Southland challenged with the locally owned Murihiku II.
Apart from a fine win by Avalon in the third race, Betty swept all before her. Only in the last race was she really pushed, as Joe Patrick in Avalon forced the pace in a do or die effort to remain in the contest. Both left the rest of the fleet in their wake. Betty took the gun by 16 seconds from Avalon, with 5m 29s back to the next boat, Eileen. George Andrews and Betty had won their third consecutive Sanders Cup.
Almost immediately, Andrews announced that he would retire from future Sanders Cup competitions. Having won three in succession, he felt that interest in the contest would fade if Betty won a fourth. There were genuine expressions of regret from all provinces, although there must also have been a degree of relief.
After a seasons lay-off, in which Auckland’s Avalon under A.L.’Trotter’ Willetts won the 1929 Sanders Cup at Akaroa, George Andrews’ crewman, Ian Treleaven brought Betty out of retirement. She won the Canterbury selection trials for the 1930 competition in Auckland, but when the Canterbury Yachting Association wanted the final say in crew selection, Treleaven refused to break up his crew and accept the Association’s nominees. The Association bypassed Betty and sent the second placed boat Colleen instead.
To prove a point, Treleaven took Betty to Auckland anyway. The 1930 Auckland Anniversary Regatta, had scheduled two open X class races for the Lipton Cup and the Ross Cup. As well as the local boats, all the Sanders Cup representatives entered. Avalon won the first race, but later withdrew after her skipper reported fouling a mark, allowing Betty the honours. Betty won took the gun in the second race and annexed both cups.
Later that week, Ian Treleaven and his crew watched Otago’s Eileen win the Sanders Cup with ease; Canterbury’s Colleen was never in the hunt at any stage.
Following the Auckland Regatta, a syndicate headed by Mr.J. Moffat of Wellington purchased Betty and took her to Port Nicholson.
In Auckland that winter, the whole concept of the Sanders Cup came in for intense scrutiny. Such was the apathy toward the competition, that if any challenge was to be mounted for Dunedin in 1931, the only boat up to to any standard, was Avalon.
At a meeting of the AYMBA in December 1930 the discussion centred on how far the class had drifted from its original 1916 concept of a youth trainer and young man’s boat. Several clubs declined to contribute to the expenses unless young men were put into Avalon and the committee concurred. For the first time in the history of the Sanders Cup, a boat was to be sailed by boys under 21. Doug Rogers, Bill Tupp jnr, A.H. Larritt and R. Andrews were selected and went south.
They were very unlucky. Two races were abandoned at the three-hour time limit, with Avalon leading, just short of the finish line. A disqualification and a withdrawal in other races ruined any fairy-tale outcome.
Betty, representing Wellington and skippered by Alan `Cooee’ Johnston, gave the Capital their first ever Sanders Cup win, defeating her old adversary Rona, which this time represented Southland, Colleen of Canterbury and last years champion Eileen. Following the competition Avalon was sold to Percy Hunter of Port Chalmers.
Under the headline `Wellington “buys” the Sanders Cup’, Auckland’s aquatic newspaper `The Pennant’, after lauding the performance of Avalon’s young crew, took a sarcastic dig at Wellington’s Sanders Cup fanatics.
`Now there is no whipping the cat to point the obvious truth that Auckland yachtsmen in the main care little whether the Cup stays South for all time. A good deal has been said about Betty but as Auckland did not recapture the trophy there is every wish to avoid uncharitableness.
But this fact emerges clearly. Wellington has crowned a ten years’ ambition by acquiring Betty from Canterbury by the syndicated expenditure of a few pounds cash. A cynical observation invades the mind. It is this: Auckland has lost Avalon…some of us want the Cup back….we offer Wellington a couple of hundred Betty…we sail Betty, and lo! Back comes the Cup.’
Auckland didn’t buy Betty and they didn’t regain the Cup. In 1932 they challenged with a veteran crew, in a veteran boat Rangi, built in 1921. It was a miserable combination.
Betty however, almost did it again for Wellington. With the series tied at two races each between Betty and Avenger from Canterbury (sailed by the redoubtable George Brasell), Betty capsized while leading in the decisive fifth race. Avenger took the Cup to Canterbury.
That was Betty’s last Sanders Cup race. Little is known of her later movements until 1953 when she is recorded as being down in Bluff, owned by D. Perkins. Betty was last seen, in derelict condition, on a beach in Stewart Island in 1967.
Of her great rivals, Rona and Avalon, Rona was sold to Tom Bragg of Stewart Island in 1930 and was Southland rep in the 1931 Sanders Cup. She was still down that way as late as 1953 owned by W. Dawson of Invercargill and registered there as X-6.
Avalon had represented Auckland in six consecutive Sanders Cup competitions from 1926 to 1931, with a single victory in 1929 at Akaroa, the year after Betty’s retirement. She was sold to Port Chalmers in 1931, and represented Otago in the 1933 competition. That same year, Mr. A. McKenzie of Wellington purchased her, renamed her Monica, and represented Wellington in the 1935 contest. By 1945 she had been renamed Cedric and was based in Wanganui and owned by B. Armit. She became the Wanganui representative in the 1947 Sanders Cup held in Auckland. That competition was won by A.L. `Trotter’ Willetts in Dianne, who 18 years earlier, in 1929, had skippered Avalon to her only Sanders Cup success.
After his retirement from the Sanders Cup, George Andrews returned to the less public life of Estuary sailing and building boats. During his lifetime, he built over sixty boats, some of them quite significant, such as Mandalay, a 40-foot ketch built in 1931 to his own design, in which he cruised the Marlborough Sounds. `Wilkie’ Wilkinson bought her around 1943 and in 1948 sold her to the Methodist Mission in the Solomon Islands.
During the mid 30’s Andrews went to Stewart Island, to complete the building of Ranui, a 66-foot auxiliary ketch on which construction had halted after her builder left New Zealand. Ranui was launched in 1936 and until the outbreak of war, carried fish and other cargoes between Port Pegasus and Bluff. After the war, she serviced the meteorological stations on the Auckland and Campbell Islands. Following many years as a crayfisher and an oyster dredger, Ranui has recently been restored and is returned to her original ketch rig.
In 1939, Andrews built the 31-foot Varuna, a light displacement W. Starling Burgess design, known in the United States as the Yankee One-Design class. By 1962, Varuna had arrived in Auckland and registered as C-27, later NZYF number 1227.
As well as designing and building the M-Class Malay in 1934 (recently rebuilt and back sailing again), he also helped popularise another major centreboard class. His D-Class dinghy Rita also built in 1934 became the first of a new class, the Canterbury T-Class formed in 1937. The T-Class was a 12-foot 9-inch round bilge dinghy with an unrestricted hull design, but with a restricted sail area of 110 square feet. Probably to avoid confusion with North Island 14-foot T-Classes, they became known as the R-Class in 1948, Rita becoming R-1.
Without a doubt, George Andrews influenced several generations of Canterbury yachtsmen, in particular those youngsters who began their sailing during the 1940’s. By then, he was an old man but still more than capable of showing the youngsters a thing or two out on the racetrack. He advised them, he tutored them and he helped them build their boats, P-class, Silver Ferns, Frostbites, Takapuna’s and even the odd X-Class, and paved the way for those relentless assaults by Cantabrians on our national yachting trophies during the 1950’s.
George Andrews died on January 19, 1952 aged 70.
Footnote No.1 :
In 1932, the Sanders Cup conference authorised construction of a full sized external steel mould, to be placed over each boat before the contest. Writing to the Christchurch Press in 1932, Arthur Johnston advised that `the official measurers … in the presence of a referee, Captain Keen of the Marine department, measured the Sanders Cup champion Betty with external steel moulds and the boat passed the test creditably. .. and that the honour of the builder and Canterbury skipper, Mr. George Andrews is vindicated.’
He went on to refer to the `despicable insinuations made by certain Canterbury delegates’ and hoped that they would `would express regret for their unfounded statements that have been made in an endeavour to put Mr Andrews offside in the eyes of the New Zealand public.”
Footnote No.2 :
Rona, the champion X-class whose lines were adopted in 1923 as the one-design for all future Sanders Cup competitions, and gave rise to the name, Rona-Jellicoe Class, was found to be `sadly astray in her measurements’. She could not fit the external steel moulds that had been built from her own lines.
Sanders Cup articles curtesy of Robin Elliot and Harold Kidd
The furore surrounding George Andrews and Betty’s win in the 1926 Sanders Cup contest in Dunedin, did not so much die down as simmer (See Vintage Viewpoint November 1998). Rumour and innuendo, sometimes of a personal nature, continued to bubble up from the South. Betty, was `not a true Rona-Jellicoe’, she was `too fine’, `too full’.
If there were any genuine irregularities, they were not obvious and her detractors could only speculate on some vague `unfairness’ about her, to rationalise her successes. To them, it seemed well nigh impossible for an amateur to design such a boat, let alone build her; sail her and so comprehensively beat the professionally built hulls. She had to be illegal, for nothing else made any sense.
Aucklanders largely remained above the debate, which was essentially a southern affair, but were quite taken aback by its intensity. AYMBA members, E.J. `Manny’ Kelly and Charles Palmer, on their return to Auckland following the contest deplored the criticism leveled at Betty and her owner-skipper, who had been dubbed `a farmer’. In the parlance of the old style Edwardian yachtsmen, to be called a `farmer’ was a most derogatory term indeed and implied a sort of uncultured, unseamanlike approach to the noble sport of yachting.
By a peculiar twist, calling Andrews `a farmer’ was almost accurate. During the 1920’s he owned a tomato garden in the Heathcote Valley and had an interest in a West Coast dairy farm, so such a remark was probably intended as feeble joke. However, amid the indignation and rhetoric, it seems likely that his supporters assumed the worst, that a fine yachtsman was being grossly insulted.
It was ironic given the same Edwardian attitudes to professionalism that had racked the sport for many years, and the number of professionally built boats in the Jellicoe Class, that the venom was directed at the only truly amateur campaign in the entire competition.
The man at the centre of the storm, while largely unknown in the north, was already a legend in Canterbury. George Grey Andrews, named after his father’s close friend, Governor Sir George Grey, was born in 1880 and spent his early years messing about in boats on the Christchurch Estuary. He built and raced dinghies and punts of his own design, and for many years competed with distinction in the busy Estuary scow scene with the Christchurch Yacht Club.
During the First World War he was attached to the hospital ship Maheno as officer in charge of the ship’s launches evacuating the wounded from Gallipoli. He later gained a commission in the RNVR engaged in the Dover Patrol, in the North Sea and operations out of Great Yarmouth. He had earlier served an apprenticeship as an engineer and by War’s end had obtained a third class marine engineer’s certificate. At the end of the War, he returned to Canterbury and his hobby of small boat design.
In the many articles written about George Andrews’ yachts, one factor is common and that is his emphasis on weight reduction. From his champion 16-footer Ariti, through Betty, and his infamous Zeddie Gadfly, which won every race in the 1927 Cornwell Cup competition (with a different crew sailing her in every race), Andrews attributed their successes in no small way to his attempts to achieve a minimum weight.
This type of thinking is commonplace today but at the time, hull weight in small boats was not considered particularly important. Even Wilkie Wilkinson, a strong Andrews supporter, professed himself to be `impressed with the fact that her skipper attributed her wins to this lightness’, as if it was somehow unbelievable. In this approach, Andrews was probably well ahead of his time and more akin to the type of thinking Uffa Fox was then engaging in, half a world away.
Many years later in an article for Sea Spray, Andrews with hindsight, had this to say,
`[Betty’s] only feature of note was that she was lighter than most of the others. I wanted a boat that would always be good off the wind, where the boat had the most say, and which would rely on the crew and trickery to get her to windward.
In our first season in the class we had no time to get familiar with the feel of the boat and we had nothing to spare in our first contest in Dunedin. In the next two contests we could play with the other boats. Having the legs of them on or off the wind we could dawdle among them or let one have the lead at the last mark to make it look close racing.
The only race I recollect in which Betty was sailed all the way with conditions that suited her was the [Canterbury 14-foot] championship race at Lyttelton in 1927. In a fresh flawless breeze she finished 11 minutes ahead of the next boat.’
While much has been made of Betty’s lightness, she was built in kauri like all the others, it was a class rule, so any gross under building should have been obvious. Yet there was never any suggestion, even from her critics, that she was markedly different in weight and scantlings.
If she were truly light, she would have run away from all the opposition off the wind, yet in several of the Cup competitions, she was run down off the wind, and did not win every race by huge margins. The Sanders Cup races, with one or two notable exceptions, were hard fought campaigns, all around the course, and of Avalon, Rona and Betty, neither appeared to have any particular advantage over the other.
During a recent interview, Jack Gifford, who travelled to those Cup contests as an observer, recalled George Andrews as being a quiet, unassuming man and `a thinker’. In Gifford’s opinion, Betty and Avalon were the ` two best prepared and finished boats in the competition. There was nothing wrong with Betty, she measured and she was sailed exceptionally well.’
We suspect there may well have been significant weight differences between Betty and some of the Canterbury boats she defeated during the trials and in club races. Alongside her two great rivals Avalon and Rona, which were the only boats that regularly troubled her, there was probably very little difference. In fact the Aucklanders, rather than display the outrage of her southern competitors, treated Betty and her owner with the respect deserving of a tough and skilful competitor.
Many years later, George Andrews told Graham Mander that it was Betty’s sails that gave her the edge; their cut, and the care he took in their setting. Andrews already had a reputation on the Estuary as a brilliant helmsman. He had now shown his superiority, not only over the `harbourites’ at Lyttelton, which is how the Betty controversy started, but over the best in the Dominion as well. Perhaps, given his well-known reluctance for self-promotion, he allowed the boat to take all the credit, rather than tell everyone how well he had tuned her and how cleverly he had sailed her.
The 1927 Sanders Cup series was sailed on Lyttelton Harbour. Betty again dominated the local triallists and won the right to defend for Canterbury. Her opponents were a mix of old and new. Two restricted pre-Rona designs were present. Peggy again represented Wellington, while Otago challenged with the Winifred, the boat many thought should have represented Otago in the previous contest.
The Auckland scene was again in a state of flux. Many Waitemata clubs were extremely reluctant to pay the AYMBA-required Sanders Cup levies for a class that was so poorly supported. Others were disheartened by the unpleasantness arising from the previous series, and continued calls from Wellington and Otago to abandon the one-design ideal and return to a restricted class.
Only two boats, Joan and Rona had contested the Auckland trials and Alex Matthews skippering Rona was selected. Avalon’s owner, railwayman Frank Cloke, on transfer to the Hawkes Bay region, offered Avalon as their representative. Southland was there again, only this time the Stewart Islanders had a new Rona-Jellicoe design, named Murihiku II, built that winter by Glad Bailey.
Avalon, Rona and Betty were the only boats to show any form. Betty won the first race handsomely, while Avalon took the second, passing Betty downwind on the last leg to win by 8 seconds. Betty won the third, by a minute from Avalon.
In what has been described as a grand show of sportsmanship, but was also a display of supreme confidence with two wins in the bag, Andrews handed the tiller over to 18 year old Ian Treleaven for the fourth race.
In a building breeze, Rona all but ran away with the race but Betty, under young Treleaven, kept coming back at her. On the downwind leg to the finish, both were neck and neck and, as the Christchurch Press described it, “wing level with wing came Rona and Betty fairly booming down the wind. Sometimes Rona would poke her nose in front, sometimes Betty. A few yards from the line, Rona picked up and drew slightly ahead and in a dashing finish won by 2 seconds.”
The final race was another struggle between Betty and Rona. Betty made the early running but Rona caught and passed her on the final upwind leg to round 15 seconds ahead. Betty got ahead by a length or two and another grim downwind battle took place with Rona unsuccessfully trying to blanket Betty who ran out the winner by 18 seconds, to take the cup for a second time.
Apart from being Andrews’ second triumph, it was yet another emphatic victory for the Rona-Jellicoe supporters. Even Murihiku II, which had barely been in the water a week and lacked tuning, totally outclassed both the restricted boats Winifred and Peggy.
The congratulations had hardly subsided before the rumours about Betty’s alleged irregularities arose again. At the Dominion Conference, the rumblings again came from Otago and Lyttelton where, as the Press reporter said, `there appeared, however, to be a strong undercurrent of jealousy between Lyttelton and Christchurch.’ This time the doubters even went as far as implying that Rona, the prototype was not a true Rona-Jellicoe according to the plan.
Auckland’s Wilkie Wilkinson again defended Betty’s measurement certificate. Once again he went into print, waving the Union Jack and retelling the dramatic story of plucky young Sanders and his VC, reminding delegates that this memorial to Sanders’ heroism, should not be cheapened by petty squabbles. It all got rather messy as delegates postured and pontificated yet again, over just what was a true Rona-Jellicoe. It was even agreed that a Dominion measurer be appointed to measure all boats three months out from future contests, but nothing came of it.
The conference did, however, recognise the sterling efforts from the Southland men who, in the last six contests, had travelled some 6000 miles to compete. The 1928 series was set down for Paterson’s Inlet on Stewart Island, Murihiku’s home waters.
Delegates returned to their provinces and began to dissect the respective successes/failures of their campaigns, and make plans for Stewart Island.
Sanders Cup articles curtesy of Robin Elliot and Harold Kidd