|Design 138 (Farr Yacht Design)|
Swuzzlebubble V and Epic Lass, the latter commissioned by Healing Industries, were both launched together amongst much fanfare outside the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in December 1984. Swuzzlebubble V was rushed to the startline of the Auckland-Gisborne race, finishing in fifth place in the IOR division.
|Building the mould for Swuzzlebubble V and Epic Lass, the IOR 'crease' clearly visible, along with the bump at maximum beam|
|Launching day, Westhaven 20 December 1984 (photo Gibbs Family Collection)|
|The functional and stripped-out interior (photo Gibbs Family Collection)|
Also in the selector's mind was Gibbs' track record at the Admiral's Cup itself, with Gibbs having taken Swuzzlebubble III to the top of the fleet in the 1981 series. In the end, both final races went Epic Lass' way, with skipper Peter Walker winning the first race and finishing third in the second. Swuzzlebubble V looked out of sorts twice on the windward legs, and looked a fraction off the pace just when Gibbs' charge needed to convince.
Swuzzlebubble V went on to campaign for a place in the New Zealand team for the country's defence of the Southern Cross Cup in 1985. The Fay Richwhite-sponsored trials, which commenced in November 1985, saw a sudden influx of new yachts, with eight boats entered and including five new boats. Gibbs had made a number of changes to the boat and crew, including a new white paint-job. The boat started off the 1985-86 season with a win in the IOR division of the Feltex Regatta, and went on to qualify for the New Zealand A team, alongside the evergreen Exador and the new Farr 43 Switchblade. With the number of boats available, a decision was made to send a second 'B' team, made up of the Davidson 40 Mad Max, Thunderbird (a sistership to Switchblade) and Barnstorm. Mad Max didn't make the A team as she missed the first race, but was clearly one of the fastest boats in the series.
|Swuzzlebubble V during the 1985 Admiral's Cup trials|
|The helmsman struggles to keep Swuzzlebubble Six on her feet on a fresh reach down the Rangitoto Channel, thought to be during the 1985 Southern Cross Cup trials (photo Gibbs Family Collection)|
|Swuzzlebubble Six racing during the New Zealand 1987 Admiral's Cup trials|
|Swuzzlebubble Six and Mad Max on a ship to Sydney|
|Swuzzlebubble Six on one of the reaching legs during the 1987 Southern Cross Cup series|
|Swuzzlebubble Six in a gybing manouevre while racing in the 1987 Southern Cross Cup|
Video footage showing BPN being located by Search and Rescue can be seen here, from Part 2 of the 1999 Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) documentary "Into the Eye of the Storm" (from about 17:50): 1998 Sydney Hobart race documentary Part 2 (Part 1 is also well worth watching for some of the incredible footage of the maxis crashing through the seas and the heroic actions of the search and rescue crews).
|The broken rig and bent stauntions visible in this photo taken post-capsize - note the missing cabin hatch|
The post-race technical analysis of the changes to the yacht indicated that the ballast changes would have had a significant decrease to its knock-down or capsize resistance, although it could not be ruled out that even with the original ballast configuration the yacht may still have rolled given the severity of the conditions during the race.
|A broken and battered yacht at Eden after the ill-fated 1998 Sydney-Hobart race|