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Here is an update from William Horne of Windarra, who recently made us all proud with his excellent result in the Round the North Island race

May 2011

Just thought I'd update you on our Round North Island race. It was a pretty full on affair with headwinds for most of the West Coast between 25 and 40 knots, we got up to 70 knots in the Cook Straight and had some huge swells following us back up the East Coast. We hit a top speed of nearly 16 knots (under double reefed main only) traveled some 1600 miles and ended up 3rd in our Division with our best result 2nd on the last leg. Of the 42 starters only 18 finished there were three dis-mastings and three boats retired with keel and/or rudder damage. Windarra suffered very little problems a wave took out the dodger which had to be restitched and we blew out one spinnaker and lost another over the side. We are pretty keen to do the next one in three years time but we'll see.

The changes we made by lengthening the boom has not caused any problems apart from having to reef slightly earlier which is far outweighed the the performance improvement reaching and running. Thanks for keeping the site up and running I always pop back from time to time for a read.

Regards William Horne

The Napier start of the RNI race
The Wellington start of the RNI race

The following is the unedited copy of an article in BoatingNZ August 2009 issue:

Late night knockdown

Sunday 21 June 2009, 9.40pm

On Sunday 21 June, long time sailing friends John Ball (JB), skipper, and Doug Kemp were delivering John’s Cavalier 36 Camellia to Fiji, a trip John and the boat had done many times before.

Doug: The day started with SE 40kts and big seas. JB found water in the bow compartment. Shit. Full-on bailing with hand bilge pump in trying conditions: 100% effort. We found the water had been spurting in under pressure through a tiny wire hole from the anchor well.

Seas were now huge. We were broad-reaching towards Suva, down and across the waves: awe inspiring. Wind 50 to 60 knots; it was blowing the tops off the water. We dropped the double-reefed main then the tiny outer spitfire jib. We had just a little bit of roller furler out but when I was grinding the furler line in I hadn’t realised the line had come off the pulley and wedged in the cheek block, so the sail is baggy about two-thirds of the way up. It had been flogging the rig but now it has disintegrated. The rig’s well supported. The inner forestay and runners, winched on tight, all meet at the same point on the mast so the rig was triangulated really firmly.

We went into the night with only a storm jib on the inner forestay. We were getting green water over the boat with some filling the cockpit: big, breaking seas that we can hear and feel but only see when we’re surfing in foam. The storm shutters are in place and the hatches are clipped down.

At 0930pm it was pitch black, JB was off watch. I am on a short harness clipped to a low point in the cockpit. I could feel I was going down a huge wave which made us heel to about 45 degrees and I could hear the breaking seas. The huge weight of water came down on top of me.

The boat kept going in slow motion. I was standing on the side of the cockpit coaming which was supposed to be vertical. The lights from the cockpit instruments glowed under the water. Then the boat kept going over. There was no panic, just: ‘Here we go. This is going to be interesting.’

Underwater it was surprisingly warm. And silent.

John: I am just getting up to relieve Doug. Camellia is sliding sideways then quite gently rolls over to port onto her side, then onto her cabin top. There’s a huge noise inside as the contents of the fridge, books and floorboards all dance around the cabin. I have time to slowly move onto the cabin sides then onto the ceiling. Small pause, then all the crashing and creaking sounds as she rights herself, swings to about 60 degrees to starboard then whiplashes back to upright.

I call out for Doug and he says he is fine. We have a few buckets of water through roof vents and clothes, plates, books, food and bedding are sloshing in the bilge. I check the water to make sure it isn’t increasing, then go up deck.

Went for the torch, but all horizontal surfaces were cleared clean, and even the places where things drop into, such as glasses and torches, were all empty.

Doug: Then she snapped back. I was in mid-air, being pulled backwards. I landed on my back on the cockpit seat but the boat kept going and I nearly went over the side the other way, then fell back into the cockpit as she came upright.

I was clipped on and my right hand was holding a coil of rope around the starboard primary winch. I never let go. I got to my feet and pushed the mangled dodger out clear of the hatch to see if John was alright. He was fine and only worried about me. Just as well we had the washboards in and the hatch closed.

I grabbed the helm and got us on course straight downwind. JB clipped on and came up on deck. He asked me to head downwind while he did a damage assessment. The storm jib was snaking in the wind, ripped off its hanks and only held by the halyard and jib sheets. One stanchion was snapped and the lee cloth was flapping loose. The solar panel was gone but we still had a mast.

I looked back at the eerie sight of one of the horseshoe liferings, its danlight illuminating the water around it, slowly moving away. The other one was dragging behind the boat but its lanyard has wrapped around the radar arch.

We got the shattered storm jib down and had a bit of tidy up. The wind was still screaming at 50 to 60 knots and we were flying down huge waves in surf. After taking stock, we got the storm trysail up on deck and hoisted it, which gave us boat speed and control and got us back on course. It was now 11pm. We had a long, cold night on deck, giving each other short spells on the helm, and I was grateful for my Gill wet weather gear. We had no engine and therefore no autopilot as waves flooded the exhaust the day before.

The wind eased at dawn so we dropped the trysail and went to double-reefed main then a single reef then full main by midday. Rounding up into the wind to get the main up each time was pretty interesting in those swells.

We sailed the rest of the day in sunshine, 25 knots and swells that were still huge but not breaking. Early afternoon we spotted Kandavu and a couple of hours later pulled into the shelter of a bay to try and get the headsail sorted out. JB went up the mast but he couldn’t get the sail off so we unfurled it and sailed with the top half flapping in the breeze and the bottom half working. We radio’d ahead to book a berth in Vuda Point Marina near Lautoka, as JB thought it would be easier to get repairs done there than in Suva. We sailed on through the night looking at the stars and listening to the amazing voices that sleep deprivation brings. This really blew me away as they were so real. We reached Navula Passage at 6am and tacked through the reef against the tide with our broken jib.

At 10am we got a tow into the marina. A bunch of yachties were standing around as word had got spread that we’d been rolled. They organised a few beers for us, once we got the formalities out of the way.

This review appeared in Sea Spray - publication date unknown

For clarity, the text is reproduced below

The Cavalier 36 was designed as a pure blooded offshore racer. Its swept-deck profile is clean, simple, sleek and uncluttered, showing influence of an ultimate racing machine. The performance of the 36 is well known, especially downwind but with also excellent reaching and on-the-wind characteristics. The yacht is designed as an uncomplicated machine to be easily sailed and handled without the necessity of expensive and complicated gear.

This Doug Peterson design swept the field in the 1974 One Ton Cup taking 1st, 3rd and 5th placings in a competitive and world class entry of 30 boats. Although the yacht is world renowned as a racing machine it is also within the reach of a cruising man with no comfort sacrificed for performance. Construction is GRP with balsa sandwich core which is very strong in its makeup to withstand the rigours of ocean racing or cruising. Even the keel is held in place with seven high tensile monel keel bolts. The stainless steel chainplates are integrally moulded into the hull and deck.

The window surrounds, water tanks, pushpit, pulpit and chainplates are all fabricated from marine grade stainless steel. Skin fittings, gate valves, Wilkie 2 speed winches, cleats, bollard and fairlead are all bronze.

The Cavalier 36 has a sloop rig and comes complete with a full set of Hood competition sails.

Ten point nine metres overall in length the 36 has a waterline length of 9.1 metres and a maximum beam of 3.5 metres, making it a very spacoius 36 footer, without inhibiting the hulls excellent performance. Perhaps the most popular of all the Cavalier range the 36 is well equipped as a cruising yacht and a racer. There are seven berths, including a navagators quarter berth. The twin forward berths provide sleeping for two crew and there is storage shelves above as well as below the covered squabs.

A head and basin are on the port side in a separate compartment, with a hanging locker to Starboard. Two pilot berths and two settees berths take up the main saloon, with a removable fold away dining table. A chart table to starboard is well placed for passing necessary directional instructions to the skipper up top-side in the cockpit. Opposite is the well equipped galley. Throughout the aft area of the main saloon there is full headroom. All interior woodwork is either teak or mahogany and finish is excellent. For an auxiliary the Cavalier 36 comes fitted with a 20hp marine diesel engine with flexible mountings, folding two-blade propeller and remote controls.

The 36 is one of the nicest looking keel yachts on the harbour and the popularity of sales is partially evident to that.



Cavalier 36
Cruiser/racer - 1 tonner
Doug Peterson
Cavalier Yachts
Solid FRP and balsa core
Cavalier Yachts Ltd, PO Box 40205 Auckland


Length Overall
36ft (11m)
12ft (3.6m)
Length on waterline
30ft (9.1m)
Ballast (weight)
7500lbs (3405kg)
6ft 3ins (1.9m)
14,500lbs (6583kg)
fin keel


Total Working Sail Area
860 sq ft (79.8m2)
Headsail 384 (35m2)
Main 264 (24.5m2)
Extra sails available
complete range
Type of rig
12ft (3.6m)
Boom length
Mast height 48ft
spinnaker pole length
16ft (4.8m)


sleeps up to eight
Standing headroom
7ft (5.1m) Sitting headroom - full
private shower moulding
Head (type) overboard flush; (placement)
Galley (equipment)
Large galley, Gimballed stove and oven, Stainless steel sink, Deep freeze
Ventilation (type)
Lighting (type)
12 volt


Length 8ft (2.4m)
Beam 5ft (1.5m)
Seating 10
Self draining - yes.


Type 20-40 Diesel
Power range 20-40 HP


Sailaway boat with the following running gear fitted: on application

The following report was received from Dennis of "UNICORN" in July 08 and is published with his kind permission:

Hey John- I know it's been awhile, and I promised to report in once Unicorn's safe and sound in her berth in Haverstraw, NY. Obviously, a long story, but beginning with trying to have Unicorn delivered by a professional captain, through attempted transportation by what I came to discover was a "discount" trucker who left me in the lurch, to my flying to Marathon Florida, (actually, Fort Pierce, FL) and sailing Unicorn north myself, never having seen her in the water, much less had any sailing experience with her. The next two weeks began with 2 friends and 3 days in the Gulf Stream, making 9 knots VMG, confirmed by GPS. Of course, one of those nights had to be a 9 hour squall, complete with consistent 35-40 knot winds and 10-12 ft seas from all quarters. Have to state emphatically that the Cavalier 36 went to weather with double-reefed main and a napkin-sized jib and still made 6-7 knots over the bottom. Dipped the rail just once on a quick gust, and only took blue water over the submerged bow just one time. Dawn brought light and warmth to a night that taught me never to hesitate buying the best foul weather gear possible, and never, ever, ever go on deck without life vest and harness. Once spent, the storm and Unicorn parted company with a display of squadrons of flying fish, and an encore of pods of 6-10 porpoises...all day long. That day led to the inlet at Cape Hattaras, North Carolina, where I put in for a minor rigging repair and some fresh provisions. A 4-day layover and the departure of my friendly crew led me to go solo. The next 3 days on the Intracoastal Waterway brought me to Norfolk, Virginia, where I greeted the incoming fleet of Tall Ships, and made the decision to make my first solo offshore trip. I finished the journey single-handing Unicorn with Igor, my very faithful and reliable Autohelm 4000. With that decision, I went easting out of Norfolk Harbor the next morning, eventually turning 90 degrees to port when I hit my waypoint 12 miles offshore. For the next 3.5 days, I developed my routine for meals, watches, naps, navigating, and thinking. Lots of thinking...and an amazing amount of pleasure, excitement, and determination as I realized that, for as long as I have been sailing (now some 40+ years) I have never failed to find another part of myself on the water. The part of me I found on this trip has radically changed my sailing and lifestyle perspectives. There is no question that those 2 weeks have become one of the most unique and gratifying experiences of my life. I want to express much of that gratitude to Unicorn, my "new" Cavalier 36 for her splendid performance on our debut sea trial. The Cavalier 36 is Doug Petersen's design, kudos to Doug, and to Lorry Davison for the ultra-safe redraw of the deck design. And to you, John, for your making the time to produce the Cav 36 home site that provided me with the information and incentive to take a chance on an eBay auction bid for a boat built 30 years ago, in, of all places, New Zealand, and by a manufacturer that I had never heard of. I can only say it was the right thing to do! There will be more from Unicorn and me in the future. Dennis Dennis Kleinman

Before the Wind - a New Zealand Yachting Anthology (Reed Publishing)
Compiled by Loris Chilwell

On page 116 is the story "It's All Done for Fun", about Peter Smith and Murray Ross (?) sailing Warchild in the inaugural Two-Man Round the North Island Race in February 1977, in which they came second behind Gerontius. The following is an extract from that story:

"By dawn the next morning we were off Palliser, an evil sinister looking headland marking the southern extremity of the Wairarapa coast. All that day we slogged into a light 5 to 10 knot south-easterly wind with few complaints. Despite the slow progress, we knew that the Cavalier36's excell in these conditions.

Our confidence was reinforced after the evening sched by the realisation that we had worked ourselves into second position behind Gerontius.
Dawn the following morning brought a southerly change which freshened throughout the day. The 130 remaining miles to Gisbourne involved a long hard run in 30 to 40 knots of breeze. This was an interesting sail because despite the prevailing fresh conditions, and the Cavalier 36 reputation for spastic downwind behaviour, we were able to maintain perfect control over the entire distance by setting the flanker on the end of a penalty pole and strapping the clew hard down"