Wild Oats XI: A giant of Australian racing

Wild Oats XI in full flight. Image: Rolex - Carlo Borlenghi.

Wild Oats XI in full flight. Image: Rolex – Carlo Borlenghi.

The supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI is here at the museum for a short visit. Wild Oats and its crew have become an Australian sporting brand, recognised by the public as Australia’s premier racing yacht and team through their dominance of the iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race, since Wild Oats XI was launched in 2005. This is Australia’s team, in the eye of the public Wild Oats XI is defending the country’s pride in the nation’s major ocean race – and its public adoration is thoroughly deserved.

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After 82 years, still cruising the Southern Oceans

Going through the museum’s archives I came across an old photo album featuring a yacht and two men photographed during the 1930s – nothing unexpected for a maritime museum’s collection. Little did I know that I would fall in love with the boat’s story.

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Maluka sitting high and dry on the Victorian coast ANMM collection

It all started in 1932 when George and William (Willy) Clark (the ‘Lucky Clarks’ as they became known), two brothers from Sydney who were also wealthy foresters, decided to build the 9 metre gaff-rigged cutter Maluka of Kermandie following the design in Huon pine by Cliff Gale.

In 1933, the brothers took Maluka on a five month cruise off Far North Queensland, followed by a trip to Lord Howe Island the following year. The album documents these trips with numerous photos of Maluka at sea and the adventurous, care-free life of the brothers, fishing, going for picnics in remote places and mixing with the locals, reinforcing the romantic ideas of escape and private travel that have fascinated people and contributed to the characterisation of cruising sailors as bohemians and eccentrics. Continue reading

Kathleen Gillett on the harbour

Last Sunday the elegant Kathleen Gillett, usually moored at our museum wharves, took part in the Great Veteran’s Race on Sydney Harbour. With a crew made up of museum staff and volunteers, Kathleen Gillett made her way gracefully around the Great Veteran’s Harbour course, but unfortunately did not finish the race. We won’t hold that against the crew though!

The Great Veteran’s Race, is the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual tribute to those classic Sydney Hobart Yacht race yachts that sailed south in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s and marks the opening of the Audi Winter Series.

Kathleen Gillett, a gaff-rigged ketch, was built in 1939 for Sydney marine artist Jack Earl to sail around the world. A founder of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, Earl sailed Kathleen Gillett in the first race in 1945. Two years later, the ketch (named after Earl’s wife) circumnavigated the globe, only the second Australian yacht to do so. Kathleen Gillett’s venturesome career later included island trade and crocodile-hunting expeditions. In 1987, she was found in Guam and bought by the Norwegian government as a bicentennial gift to Australia.

Kathleen Gillett is moored at the museum’s wharves, along with our vast historic fleet and can be viewed any day of the year.

Below are some photographs of Kathleen Gillett in action last Sunday, what spectacular sight it was!

The race crew on board Cathleen Gillett

The race crew, including museum staff and volunteers on board Kathleen Gillett.

The beautiful Kathleen Gillett on Sydney Harbour

The beautiful Kathleen Gillett on Sydney Harbour

Kathleen Gillett on Sydney Harbour

Gliding on Sydney Harbour

Kathleen Gillett taking part in the Great Veterans Race on Sydney Harbour

The Great Veterans Race on Sydney Harbour