Rob Evans, a long time Sydney based CYAA representative and supporter, is offering Celeste for sale.
It was love at first sight when I first laid eyes on the lovely Celeste, swinging on her mooring in Snails Bay. That was 25 years ago. It wasn’t the passion of youth but was the deep affection she (beautiful yachts are always female) inspired in her middle aged, very proud new owner. The introduction had come from the doyen of classic sailing, Bill Gale. I was looking for a yacht about 30ft plus to race on Sydney Harbour. I had rung Bill to find the status of Claude Plowman’s pre-war Fife 6 metre, Sho Rhu. A boat I had known from the days it resided in Mosman. Unfortunately it had just been sold. Bill then suggested Celeste and one look was all it took. It was love at first sight.
Celeste was designed by the Danish naval architect, Knud Reimers, with a reputation for producing fast Metre Boats. Celeste has the lines of a 30 square metre yacht shortened 40 to 34 ft. Her under-body shape is pure Metre Boat and her rig is that of a 30 square. Reimers was a believer in composite construction giving a planked hull over a metal frame. In Celeste the frames are monel, a nickel alloy that never corrodes. The boat was built in Adelaide by Alan Jordan the then Commodore at Royal South Australian Yacht Club. Alan, an engineer, built the yacht in his back garden in a shed constructed for the task. Launched in 1953 at Royal South Australian Yacht Club. Alan raced and cruised Celeste in South Australian waters for the next decade and every year she was towed back to the shed in which she was built and over winter her topsides were varnished and bottom antifouled ready for the next season.
Thirty more years of sailing in South Australian waters ended when Simeon Fraser bought the boat to Sydney. Two years later Celeste was mine.
The first year was low key racing, although we did end up with a podium finish. At seasons end the decision was made to refit Celeste. A lot of thought went into how she should look and It was about this time that one of the crew said, “this would be a great boat to take to Southport”. There is a world of difference between harbour racing and heading offshore for a 400-mile race, as I was about to find out.
The boat I brought had a masthead rig and lee helm. Using the talent of Hood Sails, Sheerline Spars and Hugh Treharne the solution was 7/8 fractional rigs on a tapered spar which, going by old photos is very close to the original. The helm now is as sweet as you could wish. Minor repairs complete the deck and coach house were encapsulated in 6 ounce glass and epoxy. Mel Godfrey took on the upholstery and John Sturrock took charge of our instrumentation. Our trial sail was one week before the race. We made it. Our moment of glory on our way north was being in sight of Charisma at Cape Byron however that moment was brief time and tide did not favour us.
The race was sailed with what was then the new IMS post race constructed handicap. The race committee at The CYCA finally produced a result weeks after our return to Sydney. We did beat our two back of the fleet competitor Tactical Response and Firetell.
And so the year’s program evolved. We raced to Southport, we raced to Port Stephens, and we raced to Coffs Harbour and for a bit of a change we raced to Batemans Bay. On Sydney Harbour we raced with the Sydney Amateur’s Classic Division. For eighteen years consecutive years Celeste was there from Opening Day to t the Kelly Cup and was placed in one or other of the point score series or trophy series she contested.
Celeste was also the family boat cruising with the family on Pittwater and Port Stephens. Port Stephens was a particular favorite with a rental at Little Bay and Broughton Island on the horizon.
After twenty-five years the heart is still willing but the body is starting to fade but the lovely ageless, Celeste swings on her mooring in Mosman Bay waiting for the next would be owner to fall in love at first sight.
Celeste is on the market. I have had a reconditioned engine fitted, the hull repainted a very traditional light cream. The upholstery is the original black and there are the following sails:
- #1 carbon fibre reinforced. Dacron
- #2 carbon fibre reinforced Dacron
- #3 Kevlar
- #4 Dacron
- I/2 ounce masthead kite
- 3/4 ounce fractional kite.
- Some very old storm sails.
The hull was built with monel ring frames and is immensely strong. The boat was built in Adelaide to a Knud Reimer’s design, is 34 ft long and has full length planking.
If you are interested please get in touch. Celeste has given me 25 years of fantastic sailing and I hope that a new owner will be able to say the same.
0409 608 272