|Taipare. Source: Wellington Museum of City and Sea|
Wellington has a long history of do it yourself design, experimentation and adaption in yachts. Though there were plenty of skilful boatbuilders in the early days, commercial work kept them busy, and there was not enough local business to concentrate on racing vessels over an extended period. With a few notable exceptions, local boatbuilders' involvement with racing yachts was in the realms of repair and adapting existing boats for clients. To own a yacht with the latest in go-fast technology, you either had to buy one from Auckland, or design and build it yourself. Taipare was a successful early example of the latter.
|Source: Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club archive|
She was designed for Bob Stead, a previous owner of the Red Jacket, and later some small third class not very good yachts. Moffat challenged Stead that he should have a proper yacht for a change, and that he was just the man to design her. This was the mid 1890s, and the fleet in Wellington was a strong one, which boasted three class fleets of keel yachts, 14 and 18 foot centreboarders, and half raters. Taipare was designed to be a third class racer.
|Source: NZ Yachtsman, 15 November 1913|
Taipare first raced in the two races for third class yachts in the 1898 Wellington anniversary regatta. She was helmed by Jack Highet, of whom it was said that if he had a hand in the tiller, whatever the boat, that boat would find itself "placed in the finish, and usually first". Jack had designed and raced successful centreboarders and continued to do so with the Arawa Sailing Club, only to be eclipsed by his talented younger sibling, Harry, who would go on to dominate the boats of the seemingly invincible Ted Bailey in the Te Aro Sailing Club in the years running up to WWI, and would later design the famous P-class. Taipare and her crew of three won both races, in winds that increased to gale force as the day progressed.
Taipare made a cruise to the Marlborough Sounds in 1898. She only just survived the return journey. A short account can be read here.
|Source: Wellington Museum of City and Sea|
Taipare passed through several hands until 1903 when she was purchased by a syndicate led by William Highet. He converted her back to a proper yacht with deadwood and external lead ballast. The first race Taipare entered with her new owners was a sweepstake race of thirteen yachts organised by Oscar Freyberg, which she won.
|Lizzie (foreground) and Taipare. Source: Terry Ward|
Bill Highet sold his share the same year, but despite Lizzie's dominance over the next few years, Taipare could still on occasion steal her thunder. When Lizzie was sold to Charlie Neal in 1912, he slightly altered her mast position. Although she was a little easier to handle, she lost her racing edge. Taipare once again became the scratch boat for the division until WWI.
After the war, Taipare got little use in club activity, and she is hard to track until the mid 1930s, when there was a resurgence in interest in the sport, and more people began purchasing and racing small yachts. She was active in racing, but was never tuned up to her potential. Taipare's fate is unknown. She was sold to new owners in the far North of New Zealand shortly after WWII. I wonder if she survives?