Tasman tales of solo yachties

"It's just a very unique race. People all over the world ask about it"

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014
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Yachtie Lindsay Wright

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Tall tales from the adventure-hungry solo yachties who put their lives on the line in the historic trans-Tasman yacht race are unfurled in a book about to be launched.

Author-journalist-yachtie Lindsay Wright, now in his 60s, can boast a long involvement in the New Plymouth to Mooloolaba solo trans-Tasman yacht race.

"As the secretary of the organising committee I'm pretty well immersed in it," he says.

"It's just a very unique race. People all over the world ask about it," he said.

This year's 13 solo sailors head off on Easter Sunday from Port Taranaki.

His book, published by David Ling, entitled Trial by Tasman tells the myriad tales that spring from the single-handed trans-Tasman yacht races.

Wright spent three years writing the book, researching newspapers which he found had close links with the adventurers.

"I did lots of research of the Daily News and Taranaki Herald. I spent hours and hours in the research centre at the library and talking to people."

And like any good journalist, he interviewed many of the sailors, keen for them to tell their own stories.

Wright was twice a contender but in each attempt came to grief.

On his first attempt he hit a whale off Port Waikato and in the second came down with hepatitis C. His adventures are captured in his first book Blue Water, published in 2010.

Just two of the remarkable sailors featuring in the latest book include Andrew Fagan who sailed the 17 foot 6 inch Swirly World across the Tasman and around New Zealand and the intrepid Joe Davison of New Plymouth.

Just this week, Wright says he watched in amazement while Davison, at 84 years of age, rowed a boat into the wharf towing his yacht behind him.

"He scrubbed all the bottom, then rowed back out to the mooring and headed back to his old folks' home."

In his time, Davison has completed three solo Tasman races and built three-plus boats himself, Wright says.

The Tasman race, the second oldest of its kind in the world after the trans-Atlantic single-handed race from Plymouth to Rhode Island - called the Ostar, has historic beginnings.

The first Ostar set sail in 1966 while its Southern Hemisphere counterpart took off after Sir Francis Chichester visited New Plymouth with his wife in 1968 urging a reluctant yacht club to get the proposal under way.

He is reputed to have said: "Go for it. Any race is a good race."

The first trans-Tasman race was in 1970.

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But in 2006 the yacht club was about to can the race after only three entrants put their hand up.

There was an instant outcry at its demise and a public meeting attended by 45 people voted unanimously to keep the race. Wright was one of them.

A subcommittee was set up attracting 12 entrants for the 2007 race.

The book, priced at $40, will be launched at Paper Plus at Easter in his old home town of Stratford.

Wright will give talks at 10am at the Inglewood Library on April 12 and Puke Ariki Museum and Library at 6pm on April 16.

- Taranaki Daily News

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