Reflections: The Murray White story | Crossword To the sea once more | Resurrecting Kate Vintageview: Ida, a fine Bailey launch
doesn’t know about Mistral sailing isn’t worth knowing. White’s crew during most of these years were each of his five children in turn.
“I’d say to each of them, for two years we’re sailing every Saturday afternoon, it’s a commitment. As each one finished their two years, I’d replace them with the next. Of course, the one that left would be quickly snapped up by another skipper. I had a wonderful time sailing with our children.”
Thus, in turn, Robert, Linda, Christopher, Helen and Rosemary learned to sail. Robert later became a sailmaker, now retired, and owns a 12m Hunter yacht, while Christopher is an ardent windsurfer.
Mistrals are only raced during the summer and during the winter White would crew for Townson on his keelers.
“Our winter race crew on Des’ keelers were all Mistral guys – Roger Hamlin, Ron Norton, Leo Holden and Frank Davis. We’d race against each other all summer, then race together with Des all winter. It made for great friendships.”
White raced and sailed on Serene, Moonlight, Starlight, Twilight, Dreamtime, Restless and Talent. But it was aboard Moonlight he had his most high-profile campaign, the 1971 One Ton Cup (OTC) trials.
In 1970 Townson had sold Moonlight to the late Peter Mulgrew, who then decided to enter her in the OTC trials. This was an audacious move; Moonlight was a cruising yacht worth $11,500 and would be competing against the latest IOR One Tonners costing around $50,000. But with Roy Dickson’s help, Mulgrew modified Moonlight to rate one-ton and White joined the crew.
Although Mulgrew’s modest budget precluded buying decent sails, leading up to the trials Moonlight was proving competitive. The campaign suffered a serious setback when Moonlight dropped her mast during a race to Channel Island and back, but Mulgrew managed to repair it to make the start line.
Race one and Moonlight, the smallest yacht in the fleet,