"The restoration of Rainbow II is progressing well at Wayne Olsen’s Horizon Boats Ltd in Silverdale, just north of Auckland, but our fundraising is lagging. If you feel like helping to put Rainbow II back in the water in full racing trim, no contribution is too big, or too small, and your donation will be fully tax-deductable.
|Chris Bouzaid with Rainbow II|
I found the old girl in bad shape and not all that far from the scrap heap. With a couple of friends, I took her for a sail and was amazed how well she still slid along, especially in the light air. Unfortunately, the breeze increased during the day, and so did the volume of water coming in through the garboard planks. We were pretty lucky to get back to the mooring without drowning the engine.
I made the decision there and then that this was not a fitting end for a yacht that had inspired so much and so many. She had to be brought home to Auckland. A few quick phone calls to friends in New Zealand and Monaco produced some very generous offers of both financial and physical help. So, I bought back Rainbow II from Jeremy Brasier and pretty soon, with the help of the Maersk Line, she was on her way home to the Waitemata Harbour.
|Rainbow II arrives in Auckland (above and below)|
Last October this all changed again. Over a few beers at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, it was suggested by Alan Sefton that we should see if there is any interest in having a rerun of the old One Ton Cup's in Auckland around the time of the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover in 2015.
An announcement was made seeking 'Expressions of Interest'. The international response – 28 from 9 different countries – was good enough for the Squadron to commit to formal planning, and a Notice of Race for a 'One Ton Revisited' regatta was published and disseminated the in March this year. Rainbow II’s 'quick lick' now became a full restoration to enable her to go racing again.
The goal is to raise enough money to complete the restoration and have a small endowment to cover on-going maintenance when Rainbow II goes on permanent public display, possibly as part of the marine heritage centre that is proposed for the iconic Percy Vos Boatshed in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.
|Whangarei to Noumea race, 1967 (George Layton)|
The works team on the job are Wayne Olsen himself and the amazingly resourceful Mike Smith. The invaluable volunteer helpers include Max Carter, the man who built Rainbow II back in 1966, John 'Bulldog' Street, Tony 'Womble' Barclay, and Roy 'Rocket' Dickson.
A growing list of equipment is being donated, to ensure that Rainbow II lacks for nothing when she goes to the race start line again in the One Ton Revisited regatta next year. I will include a full list of these suppliers in my next update, along with a similar list of all donors that allow us to publicly acknowledge their generosity.
Remember, all donations will be tax deductible and will only be applied to the restoration and maintenance of Rainbow II, and can be made to:
In the US: The Presumpscot Foundation, 100 Middle Road, Cumberland, ME 04021, USA;
In NZ: The Classic Yacht Charitable Trust, PO Box 1951, Shortland Street, Auckland 1141.
When we set out to build Rainbow II in 1966, for weight purposes we opted for a single skin of kauri with glued splines between the planks (instead of caulking). It is amazing how well she has stood the test of time, considering that the S&S 36-footer was raced very hard in the first three years of her life (she won the Whangarei-Noumea race in April 1967, the Sydney-Hobart classic in December 1967, finished second (1968) and then first (1969) in the One Ton Cup in Heligoland, and then, in August 1969, won the 245-mile Channel Race and finished first in her class in the 605-mile Fastnet Classic.
Once Horizon Boats had water blasted Rainbow’s exterior, they found a very small amount of rot in the marine ply deck but none at all in the hull – testimony to the qualities of the wonderful Kauri and to the boatbuilding skills of Max Carter.
The exterior of the hull has since been fibreglassed and will now be prepped, undercoated and brought up to finish-coat standard. All deck hardware has been removed, for refurbishment or if needs be, replacement, while the deck and cockpit are fibreglassed and repainted with anti-skid. The cabin top and teak toe rail are being reinstated and the coamings scraped right back and re-varnished. The interior, meanwhile, has been sand-blasted prior to prep and repaint. New floors are in, as is a new mast step. The original bunks will be restored while galley and navigatorium have been refurbished.
|John Street, Wayne Olsen and Chris Bouzaid|
When all the work is done, Rainbow II will be as close to original as we can make her with boatbuilder Olsen confident that she will stronger than she’s ever been.
It’s now approaching 50 years since Rainbow II’s ocean race win in the 1969 One Ton Cup shared equal front page billing in the Auckland Star evening newspaper with Neil Armstrong landing on the moon ('One Small Step For Man' on the left and 'Rainbow Wins Battle Of Jutland' on the right) so it is easy to forget the impact she made on the New Zealand public.
Heck – she even had her picture on the lid of the Arnotts Biscuits tin - a distinction usually reserved for racehorses in those days.
I take a lot of pride in the fact that people in a position to judge these things claim that Rainbow II’s feats in the late 1960s, backing up Jim Davern’s 1966 line honours win, in Fidelis, in the Sydney-Hobart, are credited with launching the New Zealand invasion of ocean racing which, in the next 40 years, resulted in Kiwi designed boats and crews winning every major event in world offshore racing, most of them more than once.
|Rainbow II in action soon after the start of the fourth race during the 1969 One Ton Cup|
Quite astonishing when you consider: New Zealand’s population was only 2.8 million when Rainbow II won the One Ton Cup in 1969; 2.89 million when Pathfinder, Runaway and Wai-Aniwa finished first, second and third in the Sydney-Hobart classic to clinch the 1971 Southern Cross Cup; just 3.3 million when, in 1987, Propaganda, Kiwi and Goldcorp won the 1987 Admiral’s Cup; 3.36 million when Steinlager 2 won all six legs of the Whitbread Round the World race (on line and on handicap); and just 3.6 million when, in 1995, 'Black Magic' (NZL 32) won the America’s Cup.
Now – is that punching ‘way above your weight??
The Squadron and its members have been integral to most of that phenomenal success (and one should never forget either the important part played by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club).
Rainbow II’s 1968 challenge for the One Ton Cup in Heligoland was a first for the Squadron that, for the most part, in those days was content to organise racing for its magnificent fleet of harbour and gulf racers. The challenge in Germany was championed by Commodore Bruce Marler and senior club member Arnold Baldwin. What visionaries they proved to be.
|Rainbow II crosses the line of the fifth and final race to win the One Ton Cup, 1969|
I want to thank all of you who have helped us get this far. It has been a journey with lots of memories and old friends coming out of the woodwork in all parts of the world. And, it would appear that the old Rainbow magic is still a factor. Even though we have kept fairly quiet about the Rainbow II restoration, a steady flow of interested parties find their way to Horizon Boats to check on progress - no easy task because the yard is well tucked away in a district north of Auckland that is only now beginning to make its way on to the GPS maps.
|The original crew of Rainbow II|
To all overseas yachties reading this – come join us for One Ton Revisited 2015 and enjoy the racing and hospitality of a country in which offshore racing looms so large in the national psyche.
Good and happy sailing,
GO RAINBOW GO"
Update - Rainbow II was re-launched on 2 February 2015