Great Veterans – a report from Defiance

We had a wonderful race. No spinnakers sadly. And a very straightforward reaching course. Very happy with our speeds. The skipper and helm was no slouch!

We were hunting down Archina, built 1933, and another 30 seconds we would have caught her. She was flying too.

No one could really catch Fidelis on that reaching course, with her 20ft extra length at waterline. We were given three minutes on her. She beat us by 1 minute and 47 seconds. We were faster upwind of course.

After retreating from forty knot gale in the last regatta, it was really nice for Iain Murray to settle in for a civilised 9-10 knot race, with sailmaker Ian Short on main. “Shorty” won the World Cup on Saskia on the Clyde. He makes my sails and really loves 8 Metres. Gifted metre boat sailors, both with Scottish ancestry, they were a perfect fit. Then super-fit Brett Filby (white shirt) who sailed a lot with Matt Allen on Ichiban, and Shorty’s partner in the sail business Glenn Cooper aka Hedgy did a great job on trim, plus foredeck specialist Owen Muyt – all experienced Sydney to Hobart sailors so just right for the Great Veterans Race.

Owen discovered a new job on the boat as the “human vang”, ably assisted by Charly Graffunder, a visiting member of the Berlin Yacht Club who just won the Prince Phillip Cup in Dragons with David Chapman on helm.

Whilst content on runners, nothing makes me happier than feeling my boat on the perfect heel in the hands of great sailors. And I always think of Ernest Digby in such moments. I feel he would have been so pleased with the quality and calibre of my crew for this all-important CYCA event, one of the highlights of its classic calendar .

I feel Digby is always racing with us in spirit and on my shoulder always when I put together my crew, especially for the significant regattas.

She is a beautiful, fast, agile boat that never ceases to amaze her crew. They truly delight in sailing her. She is like a Porsche and a Rolls Royce rolled into one, and a really glamorous yacht to sail on Sydney Harbour.

Defiance brings so much joy.

Recently the musician Sting came along for a sail. I put him on the tiller and he just loved it, especially coming from a family of ship builders who had written a musical in tribute called “The Last Ship”. He really responded to the feel of the timber.

I admire Mr Digby so much for having the vision, faith and expertise to set about designing and building a boat to beat the Fifes of the day. What a great Australian. I am so proud of him and so honoured to be the custodian of his beautiful creation.

The saying is “if you build it, they will come.” Defiance is definitely a platform of excellence, which certainly attracts the like-minded, the lovers of good boat design who appreciate her classic lines, her balance and ability as a true racing machine.

Nicole Shrimpton

Thank you Nicole for this great report… thanks to the team on Defiance for the on-boat pics and to Andrea Francolini for the other pics. 

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