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Prize Part III

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY HAROLD KIDD

Prize was built from the top ma­te­ri­als – a triple di­ag­o­nal heart kauri hull in the best Auck­land tra­di­tion, the finest work­man­ship from Bai­ley’s ship­wrights, boat­builders and rig­gers, the top grade of Ore­gon spars and a su­perb suit of Rat­sey & Lapthorn sails made for her in Cowes, Isle of Wight bear­ing her reg­is­tered num­ber, A15.

She was the con­sum­ma­tion of Bai­ley’s skills as a de­signer, con­struc­tor and busi­ness man, and the con­sum­ma­tion of En­dean’s need to re­place the lost Onelua with an equiv­a­lent trea­sure.

Prize’s de­but race was to be at the Com­bined Open­ing Day on 17 Novem­ber 1923, sail­ing for the Squadron, Devon­port Yacht Club, Akarana Yacht Club and Pon­sonby Cruis­ing Club on al­most iden­ti­cal hand­i­caps to Rawene, and with only Io­rangi giv­ing her time.

There was a fresh breeze. Nearly 300 yachts took part but Prize did not start. Sen­si­bly, En­dean was un­will­ing to risk spoil­ing his new Rat­seys. He un­bent his main­sail and later left un­der try­sail. Again, con­di­tions were fresh for the Devon­port Yacht Club race

Her first race was the Squadron’s Hardie Tro­phy to Awaroa Bay on 15 De­cem­ber 1923, on nine min­utes hand­i­cap...

on 1 De­cem­ber. Prize went to the start line but En­dean chose not to start. In­stead, he took her for a quiet cruise to Whanga­paraoa the fol­low­ing week­end.

Her first race was the Squadron’s Hardie Tro­phy to Awaroa Bay on 15 De­cem­ber 1923, on nine min­utes hand­i­cap; Ariki was on scratch, Io­rangi on five min­utes, Rawene on 11. Prize came in fifth on line, beaten by

Ariki, Io­rangi, Rawene and Vic­tory. Ladye Wilma, sailed by war hero Cyril Bas­sett V.C., won on hand­i­cap.

“Speed­well”, in the Auck­land Star, com­mented: “Prize, which was sail­ing her maiden race, was dis­ap­point­ing, but should do bet­ter when her sails have a chance to stretch into shape. Beat­ing home on Sun­day with two reefs down and a stay­sail, she ap­peared to be ten­der. How­ever, a new boat is not at her best in her first sea­son.”

There was talk around the wa­ter­front that Prize was se­ri­ously over­can­vassed, the same sort of talk that Onelua had ex­cited 10 years be­fore.

En­dean per­se­vered with her rig and, grad­u­ally, Prize emerged as a se­ri­ous con­tender in a full rac­ing pro­gramme with the Squadron,

Akarana and Pon­sonby. She im­proved in har­bour races and pas­sage races, won the Ocean Race from Auck­land to Rus­sell held in as­so­ci­a­tion with Rus­sell Re­gatta in De­cem­ber 1923.

Mind you, she just squeaked in ahead of Wil­letts’ rapid 26ft mul­let boat Waitere II. In the 1924 Tau­ranga Race she got a fifth on hand­i­cap. But in Novem­ber 1925 En­dean had 2ft 6ins cut off the mast and the sail re­duced pro­por­tion­ally.

It was prob­a­bly at this time that she got a new lead keel, 8 inches deeper. Her chal­lengers were still Rawene, of course, sailed mag­nif­i­cently by Alf Gif­ford, and Vic­tory, sailed equally mag­nif­i­cently by Harold Ge­orge.

In De­cem­ber 1926 Colin Wild de­signed and built Nga Toa (A17) for the Win­stone broth­ers, the sec­ond new large keel yacht since 1913 for the Waitem­ata, re­in­forc­ing the trend that Prize and En­dean had es­tab­lished.

She had 1040 square feet of bermu­dan main­sail on a 59ft “mar­coni” mast, thor­oughly up to date. Nga Toa made off­shore events her home; she did the Tau­ranga Race ev­ery year and did well in the Balokovic Cup.

But over the next 15 years, as the coun­try fought its way out of the De­pres­sion, there was a flood of new builds in Auck­land, mainly from the pen of Arch Lo­gan and built by Bill Coul­drey, or de­signed-and-built by Colin Wild.

It be­came a re­peat of the Golden Age of the 1890s, but with­out the Baileys, for Prize was the last Bai­ley-de­signed-and­built first class rac­ing yacht.

En­dean was Com­modore of the Squadron from 1928 to 1930. A friend of Gor­don Coates, he got caught up in na­tional pol­i­tics at the out­set of the De­pres­sion. Be­tween 1930 and 1938 he was Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for the Par­nell elec­torate (later re­named Re­muera), firstly for the Re­form Party and from 1936 to 1943 for the Na­tional Party.

He rep­re­sented the Na­tional Party at a Par­lia­men­tary Con­fer­ence in Lon­don in 1943. In 1950 he was a mem­ber of “sui­cide squad” on the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, our for­mer Up­per House, which abol­ished it­self that year.

In years lead­ing up to WWII Prize was cam­paigned reg­u­larly. One ma­jor vic­tory was the 1932 Squadron Hor­ton Be­quest race and she com­peted in sev­eral clubs’ races with Cobb Mays as sail­ing mas­ter and with Con Thode in her crew for a time.

She cruised ex­ten­sively most sum­mer hol­i­days. She still wore her gaff rig, de­spite the fact that sev­eral of the ear­lier ma­jor yachts had gone over to bermu­dan. Rawene was (and still is) a hold­out. As the war be­came more se­ri­ous and his pub­lic du­ties

in the wartime coali­tion gov­ern­ment be­came more of a bur­den, En­dean talked about lay­ing her up “for the du­ra­tion” as so many yachts and launches had been.

But he had a swan­song race with her. In Fe­bru­ary 1941 Prize, on scratch, was first on line in the Squadron’s Te Kouma race. In Oc­to­ber 1941 it was an­nounced that he had sold Prize to Al­fred Thomp­son of Herne Bay.

Thomp­son (known as “Dick”) and his younger brother Thomas Leopold Thomp­son (known as “Cook”) had been movers and shak­ers in the Auck­land yacht­ing scene since they were young men.

Through their mother, the Thomp­sons were de­scended from Ge­orge Calvert, the first Baron Baltimore and, among many other fa­mous peo­ple, the mu­si­cal in­stru­ment maker Pierre Jail­lard of Bourg-en-bresse in the South of France. He was known in Eng­land as Pe­ter Bres­san, the 17th cen­tury in­ven­tor of the recorder in the form we know it to­day.

Both broth­ers were ex­pe­ri­enced yachts­men and skilled skip­pers. Among the yachts they owned to­gether or sep­a­rately around the turn of the 20th cen­tury were the small keel yacht Belle, orig­i­nally built as an open sail­ing boat by Clarence Hew­son in 1882.

There was also an­other for­mer crack open sail­ing boat, Magic, built by Robert Lo­gan Sr in 1881, later decked in, and the crack 24ft mul­let boat Echo built for them by Jas. Clare in 1900, then the Chas Bai­ley-de­signed-and-built 24ft Lin­ear Rater Speed­well that they bought in 1903 for £100, se­ri­ous money at the time. Dur­ing the two years of own­ing Speed­well from 1903 they were rarely beaten.

But Cook got mar­ried in 1906, Dick in 1914 and both eased back on com­pet­i­tive sail­ing. Both had been heav­ily in­volved in the for­ma­tion of three new yacht clubs along the Pon­sonby fore­shore. Dick called the first meet­ing at the Glue­pot in Oc­to­ber 1900 which led to the for­ma­tion of the Pon­sonby Cruis­ing Club.

He was Trea­surer from 1900 to 1902, Sec­re­tary from 1903 to 1904, Com­modore 1903, 1927 to 1929 and Pres­i­dent for most of the pe­riod 1921 to 1935. His in­put was huge.

Cook was a founder mem­ber of the Home Bay Sail­ing Club in 1902 and its first Com­modore. When it went into re­cess in 1906, Cook and most of the mem­bers went to Rich­mond Cruis­ing Club, as it was then known, and was Com­modore from 1912 to 1918 and again from 1925 to 1934.

He was also in­volved heav­ily with Vic­to­ria Cruis­ing Club and be­came its Com­modore in 1920 for sev­eral years. Vic­to­ria then had the largest mem­ber­ship of any New Zealand yacht club with 800 mem­bers. These two broth­ers were enor­mously in­flu­en­tial on Auck­land’s yacht­ing cli­mate and pro­vided sound lead­er­ship for Auck­land’s west­ern yacht clubs over nearly 50 years.

Dick Thomp­son had three boys, Bressin Baltimore (born 1916), Dick Whin­ray (born 1918) and Har­lan Calvert (born 1924). Dick and Cook made it their busi­ness that these boys in­her­ited their yacht­ing skills by pro­vid­ing them with good boats. BNZ

NEXT IS­SUE In the next ar­ti­cle, I will re­view those boats which in­cluded the crack 22ft mul­let boat Ta­mariki and, of course, Prize. Con­tact Harold at: harold­kidd@boat­ingnz.co.nz

LEFT Prize (A15) and Nga Toa.

BE­LOW The crack 24ft lin­ear rater Speed­well.

RIGHT A news­pa­per pho­to­graph of Prize in Bill En­dean’s last race, Fe­bru­ary 1941.

ABOVE Al­fred (Dick) Thomp­son as a young man.

BE­LOW Rawene (A5) and Prize (A15).

FAR LEFT The Thomp­son broth­ers’ first se­ri­ous yacht, the 24ft mul­let boat Echo built by James Clare in De­cem­ber 1900.

LEFT T.L. (Cook) Thomp­son as a young man.

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