Hull Weight: 57kg
Hamilton Lake has is home to three of Des Townson designs: the Zephyr, the Starling and the occasionally-seen Mistral. Des both designed and built the Zephyr (or at least the first 219 of them, between 1956 and 1975!), and, in doing so, was the first person in New Zealand to production-build a one-design sailing dinghy. To protect his interests and prevent pseudo-Zephyrs appearing he registered the name ‘Zephyr’ in the late 1950s. This move caught the attention of the Ford Motor Company (the Ford Zephyr being a popular car back then) and they sent a company man to investigate. In Des’s words, “He pushed his way through the fennel and found my small boatshed, smiled, and went on his way”.
Townson designs range from keelers to radio controlled yachts and two things are common to all: they are fine looking and they sail well. The Zephyr has a healthy dollop of both features. Its attractive lines and good performance have attracted and retained sailors to the sport. Some Zephyr sailors have owned their boats for decades! Zephyr sailors are renowned for their competitiveness on the water and their sociability off it. The wooden construction means that each boat develops a bit of its own character, a bit of individuality.
Boat names illustrate this point well. Many Laser owners never bother to give their boats a name, seeing one Laser as pretty much the same as another - no name, no varnish and, usually, no colour - and, really, who smiles when they look at a Laser. Compare this to the Zephyr fleet at Hamilton Yacht Club with names like Tickled Pink, Cindy, Silicon Ship, Pandora, Vooka, Hustle, Philomene! The names alone make you want to see them sailing.
Each year’s Club Champion has their name and boats name engraved on the Cindy Cup. Last engraving read R. Ebert ‘Reprieve’ 2016-2017. That’s two years in a row for Rob, edging out Jack Ninnes sailing Lubbley Jubbley each time. No doubt the grudge match will be reignited this coming season.
The Zephyr class has gone a little quiet at Hamilton Yacht Club in recent years but it only takes a couple of keen sailors to turn this around. There are good fleets in Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The national champs regularly attracts 50 or more entries.
In order to simplify the building process and reduce the need for maintenance the class association has started making hulls out of fibreglass. The beautiful varnished decks and coamings have been retained, though, so the new boats still look like the originals.
If you are looking for a Zephyr or Zephyr sail, contact Rob Ebert.