Couta sailing boats in the Australian sun

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Couta boats racing in the Australian sun

Dale Appleton sent us these photos of some almost absurdly good looking Couta boats racing in the warmth of the Australian summer off Queenscliff, Victoria.

(By the way, let me assure anyone who may be wondering – up here in deepest, darkest rural Kent we’ve been snowed in good and proper for the first time in years.)

He says that the Coutas are now highly sought after as a pleasure and racing boat, and even as a status symbol to some, and adds that there is a traditional builder making them to order. I think that’s seriously good news. See the class website.

Dale also pointed out that there’s a hidden treasure on the Couta Boat Club’s website, by the way. Readers may remember that Pete Goss’s Spirit of Mystery expedition recently had a nasty experience when their recreated Cornish fishing lugger suffered a knockdown as they approached Australia. One crew member on deck at the time broke his leg and their boat lost its clinker-built dinghy made from off-cuts from the Mystery herself.

Well, in an amazing coincidence it seems that dinghy has turned up on a beach at King Island, part way between mainland Australia and Tasmania, and I gather it is being fixed up by local boatbuilder Jeremy Clowes, who sailed with the Mystery crew after she reached King Island – I gather he has replaced the upper planks and various other bits and pieces using parts donated by local wooden boat enthusiasts. As Dale says, it’s a story to warm any boat builder’s heart. See the story here.

Surrounded by unaccustomed ice, I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am that people like Dale and many others are so willing to send in their photos and stories. Thanks Dale and the rest – your efforts are greatly appreciated, and I hope you know how much you add to the sum of human happiness in the boating world.

Can anyone help find the first 5.5 Metre class racing yacht The Deb?

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5.5 Metres race at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 (image taken from the Wikipedia)

British National Yachting Archive (BNYA) project officer David Elliott has been in touch to appeal for information about the 5.5 Metre racing yacht The Deb. Apparently she was last seen sailing with the Castle Cove Sailing Club, Weymouth.

A little investigation reveals that she is a particularly important 5.5 Metre. The International 5 Metre Class website reveals she was the first example of the class to be built in 1948 by Camper & Nicholson, and that since 1998 a cup named in her honour – The Deb Cup – has been presented to the winner of the first race in the world championships.

A Wikipedia entry for the 5.5 Metre class says that Charles Nicholson designed the 5.5 metre in 1937 as a cheaper alternative to the 6 Metre class.

If you have any information please contact David at or post it using the comment link below.