Monday 22 July 2013


Lizzie ca. 1909-12. Image hand coloured by Denise Durkin

Launched in February 1909, Lizzie is the oldest surviving Wellington-built yacht.  She was built at Balaena Bay (then known as Martin's Bay) by Edwin (Ted) Bailey for C. J. Ward. At the time Bailey was in partnership with James Bringins. By September 1909 Bailey had set up on his own account at Clyde Quay. Bailey was the youngest of the Auckland boatbuilding brothers, Charles Jr, and Walter, and set up in Wellington. He had moved to Wellington early in his career, and remained there until his death in June 1943.

On top of his recent success in building racing centreboarders (Zel, Thelma, and Vera - see Thorndon Dinghy Club), Lizzie's immediate success as a racing yacht was probably a factor in Bailey's decision to go it alone at Clyde Quay. Aside from the occasional centreboarder, Bringins showed no interest in building or developing racing vessels.


The Martins Bay workshop (with Bailey's name recently painted over). Source Alexander Turnbull Library

Lizzie. Source: Progress. April 1911

Lizzie's vital statistics:
LOA : 22'
LWL : 19'
Beam : 7', 6"
Draught : 4'

Lizzie's first race was a challenge against the champion 2nd class yacht Taipare, which she won. She was crewed for that race by Ted Bailey (skipper), C. J. Ward, C. Ward Jr., and G. Taylor. In subsequent club racing, it was C. Ward Jr. who skippered her.

Source: Wellington Museum of City and Sea
Lizzie was owned by the Ward family until 1912. During this time, Lizzie was entered in 21 races with the Port Nicholson Yacht Club. As scratch boat she achieved eleven firsts, seven seconds, two thirds and one fourth - quite an outstanding record in a strong fleet. The club still holds three trophies named after her.

C. J. Ward, owner of a shoemaking firm, was Commodore of the Port Nicholson Yacht Club from 1910-1912. He was well respected and liked as a fair businessman who looked after his staff.

Ward family car on an outing to Paremata. Source: Terry Ward
One day the family sailed Lizzie out across the harbour to Day's Bay for a picnic. On board was Ward's wife Elizabeth (for whom the boat was named), who was pregnant. The weather took a turn for the worse. Not wanting to risk Elizabeth in her condition, Lizzie was sailed back to town by the boys, leaving her to hitch-hike her way home in the storm. The first thing she said as she came through the door was: "Sell the boat, we're buying a car".

Linnet. Source: RPNYC archive
Lizzie was sold to Charlie Neal, who was to become a stalwart of the PNYC, and subsequently owned Viola and Wylo. Lizzie was fast, though somewhat difficult to helm - a little too keen to point her nose into the wind, so Neal moved her mast about six inches aft and decreased her sail area. This made her more easily handled, though it diminished her racing potential. It was reported at the same time that Bailey had been contracted to raise the topsides by six inches, though this appears not to have occurred. She was renamed Linnet, and continued to race in Wellington into the 1920s before she was purchased by a Lyttelton owner.

Source: Traditional Boats June 1987
She remained in the Christchurch/Lyttelton area until 1986. In 1937 long-time owner Cliff Heron raised her topsides by 18 inches and lived aboard her for a time. The image at left shows her in this configuration. She passed through many hands until 1977 when she was purchased by Graeme and Annette Robertson, who took her with them when they moved to Auckland in 1986.

She changed hands several more times before sinking at her moorings in unclear circumstances in 2010.

This event inspired the creation of the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust, which was formed to raise money for her salvage and restoration. She was renamed Lizzie, returned to her original configuration and is sailing once more in her home waters. She was named Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club's boat of the year in 2013.

Lizzie sailing in Wellington 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment