Torched yacht was 'almost bulletproof'

23:58, Apr 01 2014
Be Bright campaign
CHARRED HULL: Harbourmaster Dave Duncan pulls the burnt-out yacht into shore yesterday morning.

The owner of a yacht that was torched in Nelson Harbour says it was built to be an elite racing craft.

Retired Nelson shipwright John Harris said his 4-metre Flying Dutchman class yacht was built by sailors Andrew Ball and David Eastman to race in the 1984 Olympic Games.

The men had used their links with American aircraft manufacturing company Boeing to secure the most technologically advanced materials possible for their yacht.

"It had honeycomb and carbon fibre . . . At the time it was almost bulletproof, that boat."

Its name was Freedom. Harris secured it about 12 years ago, and said it had been well-used in local yacht races.

"It could still hit the front every now and then."


Harris said he was not considering replacing the yacht.

The Nelson Fire Service found it in flames early yesterday morning as it lay washed up on the beach near the Nelson Yacht Club.

Station officer Kevin O'Connor said it looked as if an arsonist had launched Freedom from its trailer and set it alight.

Harbourmaster Dave Duncan agreed it looked like a deliberate action, saying he understood the yacht had been "let go" into the harbour about a month before the fire.

Police said the fire was being treated as suspicious, and an investigation was under way.