27 March 2013

Mad Max (Davidson One Tonner)

Mad Max burst onto the New Zealand offshore scene for the 1985 trials to select the yachts that would defend the Southern Cross Cup later that year. Owned by Mal Canning, Mad Max was the first Davidson IOR boat of this size to be seen in New Zealand since Southern Raider. She was designed as a development of Davidson's earlier Pendragon which had been impressive in the US Admiral's Cup trials in early 1985. Mad Max was longer than her predecessor, with a slightly smaller rig for Southern Cross and Clipper Cup conditions. Although Mad Max showed her pedigree right from the start, she missed the first race and the team selection policy meant that she did not qualify for the New Zealand A team (made up of Exador, Swuzzlebubble V and Switchblade). Mad Max instead joined the Farr 43 Thunderbird and the Peterson 43 Barnstorm. 

The downside of the strict New Zealand selection process was eventually laid bare as Brad Butterworth steered Mad Max to be the top individual yacht in the series, winning all three inshore races, and finishing sixth in the 180-mile medium distance race and 11th in the 630-mile Sydney-Hobart finale. 

The first team was hampered by a lacklustre performance by Swuzzlebubble V, and the second team had to carry the outclassed Barnstorm, and so New Zealand failed to defend the trophy. The English team of three fast One Tonners, Highland Fling, Cifraline 3 and Panda, took the trophy by a good margin, despite Panda retiring from the Sydney-Hobart race with a fractured hull.

Mad Max surfs downwind towards a dominant individual performance in the 1985 Southern Cross Cup
Mad Max went on to sail in the 1986 Kenwood Cup as reserve yacht for New Zealand's A team. She had been poorly prepared for the trials series and missed out on a team place, but was quickly signed on as reserve so she could not be chartered to an Australian or US team. She was skippered by Ray Haslar and sailed well to finish in ninth place overall. 
Mad Max during the 1986 Kenwood Cup

By 1987 had, relatively speaking, become something of a veteran performer. For the 1987 New Zealand Admiral's Cup trials the yacht was extensively revamped and lightened by Davidson and the skipper, Tom Dodson, and sported new black and gold livery and a new name reflecting a new sponsor, Goldcorp. 
The new livery and design details for Mad Max/Goldcorp
The all new Goldcorp, sailing in the Auckland Anniversary Regatta in January 1987, sailing in a gusty southwesterly along the Auckland waterfront (photo P Macalister/NZ Yachting)
Although she was up against a number of new boats, Goldcorp won the trial series to secure her place in the New Zealand team and join the Farr One Tonner Propaganda and the Farr 43 Kiwi.
Goldcorp rounds a windward mark during the 1987 New Zealand Admiral's Cup trials

Goldcorp on the wind and seen here just astern and to weather of Propaganda
The New Zealand and English teams established themselves at an early stage in the 1987 Admiral's Cup at the head of the fleet, and were evenly matched boat for boat, with Goldcorp needing to keep a close watch on Juno III.
Goldcorp during the 1987 Admiral's Cup (above and below)

A conservative and risk-free approach by the New Zealand team was only interrupted by Goldcorp in the first race when she was over the startline early and suffered chop and disturbance from the spectator fleet after re-starting. But the team put in a convincing performance in the second race, with Propaganda recording a second win, backed up by Kiwi in third and Goldcorp in tenth. 

Goldcorp sailing downwind (above) and rounding a leeward mark (below, from One Ton Facebook page) during one of the inshore races on Christchurch Bay 

Goldcorp tactician Terry McDell keeps a close eye on the competition in the early stages of the Fastnet race (photo A Sefton)
The third inshore was sailed in a medium strength breeze that favoured the big boats, with only two One Tonners making the top ten, being Propaganda in sixth and Goldcorp in eighth, both boats displaying a definite upwind edge on their rivals. Although Juno III went on to finish second in the Fastnet race, the New Zealand team boats maintained a tight cover on the British to ensure that they won the Admiral's Cup for the first (and only) time, with Goldcorp finishing sixth yacht overall.
Goldcorp entering Queen Anne Battery Marina after the Fastnet Race (photo Shockwave40 blog)
Dockside photos of Goldcorp at Cowes, 1987, above and below (photos Ian Watson)

Goldcorp was bought by yachtsman Wink Vogel who had observed the boat during the 1987 Admiral's Cup, and negotiated the sale in 1988, before shipping the boat to the US in 1989. There she underwent a refit and was painted in her original colour scheme (white with a magenta stripe). 
Mad Max, circa early 1990s

 Vogel and his crew raced her in the 1990 Vic-Maui and the 1990 Kenwood Cup. Two years later she was chartered by a European syndicate headed by Irish yachtsman John Storey to be part of the European team in the 1992 Kenwood Cup, alongside the Spanish Larouge and France's Corum, and was skippered by Gordon McGuire with Harold Cudmore calling tactics. The team won the Cup, with Mad Max winning her division and finishing 4th or 5th overall. This was an excellent result for the old campaigner, with the regatta being held in conjunction with the 50ft and Two Ton World Championships and the competition was hot.
Mad Max during Canadian racing events in 2007

After the demise of the IOR in the mid-1990s Vogel put a new keel on the boat and removed some of the internal lead ballast, and increased the mainsail with a longer boom. Mad Max is currently based in False Creek, Vancouver (British Columbia) where her crew continue to win races and regattas.
Mad Max as she appeared in 2013 at her home in Vancouver
Mad Max in 2016, following more recent upgrades (above and below)

For more on Mad Max (presently for sale, as at July 2016), please see her website at www.madmaxracing.info and Yachtworld listing here.


  1. Mad Max currently resides in False Creek, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where her crew continues to win races and regattas. We would love to add some photos if we could, please advise!!

    Major (Retd)

  2. Hi Richard, This is the greats collection of MAD MAX photos and stories i have seen!! Thank you for you efforts. I'm the current owner of Max since 1998 and have raced her with great success over those years and still racing her with success. She was so well build, strong, fast and reliable. I will send you as much information i have from 1998 to current. also i'm still in regular contact with the pass owner Wink Vogal, (1990-1998) and there regular helmsman Ross Macdonald (Olympic Star Silver mentalist and Star worlds Champion) to see what they can dig up for you. Please feel free to contact me.

    micahvanderheide at gmail dot com

    Kindest regards,

    Micah Vanderheide

  3. mentalist that funny!! medalist!!!
    also see our web site