Racing Montagu whalers off Auckland


Whalers racing off Auckland many years ago; as usual, click
on the thumbnail for a larger image

Reader Paul Mullings has contacted us with this photo of Naval whalers racing off Auckland, New Zealand many years ago. This is what he says about it:

‘The New Zealand forces used to hold a regatta, at the end of which they challenged a team of representatives from the Auckland Yachting Association to a series raced in the whalers.’

It looks like a hoot to me. These boats’ sportiness is evident: no doubt their length and lightness made them fly in a breeze.

In fact, Paul put a comment on one an earlier post on Montagu whalers in which he reminisced about sailing Montagu whalers when he was a boy:

‘Oh the memories – 45 years or so ago I was a Sea Scout in the 6th Leigh Troop headquatered at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. We had a Montagu whaler at the time and I have ingrained memories of rowing (I think I still have the blisters!) and sailing, what at the time seemed a huge boat. Being long and thin they could really fly under sail in any kind of breeze and I vividly remember storming across the Thames Estuary on more than one occasion bound for the Medway. Happy days!

For more on whalers at including one for sale, click here.

3 thoughts on “Racing Montagu whalers off Auckland”

  1. I was very pleased and amused to receive this email from Dick Johnson – it seems the friendly rivalry between the 3rd Chalkwell Bay and the 6th Leigh Sea Scouts is still running after 50 years!

    Hey Paul – are you going to let him get away with this?

    'That Paul Mullins still complaining about his blisters!

    That was the trouble with the 6th Leigh Sea Scouts. Bunch of lightweights! (No offence, Paul…)

    Now, when I was in the 3rd Chalkwell Bay, not only did we have a nice easy whaler to row, but also a Naval Cutter which was a real blister maker.

    The cutter was about twice as heavy as the whaler and instead of crutches for the oars had proper rowlocks – cut-outs in the sheer strake. It did have a big dipping lug too which was a lot of fun.

    Our Thursday night fun was to row it out to Canvey Point and back, though we did once take it up the River Medway camping for a weekend I remember.

    Sailing a whaler was a real team effort, but they could fly in a breeze when reaching, though getting to windward was somewhat less speedy as the sails I remember would have made a flour sack look as though it was cut by North.

    I think the 6th Leigh still has a whaler that goes sailing occasionally.

    Let’s hope that ’elf ‘n safety never stops the Sea Scouts letting kids have a good time and giving them a good grounding on the water.

    Keep up the good work Gavin!

    Dick Johnson'

  2. Hi Gavin, I was delighted to see the response from Dick, although I am sure time has dimmed his memory somewhat regarding the size of his blisters. I will be back in the UK during May and June so perhaps we could compare our scars!! Cheers Paul

  3. G’day Gavin, Ah now that brings back memories. Our troop had a Montague whaler and I well remember the blisters too. The bayside troops held regattas with knotting, pioneering, boat races, boat drill, (ship oars, toss oars) boat jousting and the obligatory stirrup pump and flour bomb fight as a finale. One year in company with another troops boats we sailed down Port Philip bay and out into Bass Strait to camp on Wilson’s Promontory. We overnighted in Western Port Bay I think. Quite an adventure that I’m sure the powers would not permit these days. We had to delay our return because of the weather. Oldest was mid 30’s, youngest about 12. I was 14 I think.
    I was a lucky kid to live where I did.

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