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