America’s Cup challenger Gretel II relocates to Hobart

  • April 30, 2018

One of Australia’s most famous America’s Cup racing yachts, Gretel II, has been relocated to Hobart and the River Derwent with a new berth at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Owner Michael Maxwell plans to race the classic 12-metre in longer day races on the Derwent and DÉntrecasteaux Channel next summer as well as enjoy day sailing, cruising and twilight racing.
Gretel II represented Australia twice at challenger series for the America’s Cup at Newport, Rhode Island, skippered by Sir James Hardy in 1970 and by Gordon Ingate in 1977.
Designed by Alan Payne for newspaper magnate Sir Frank Packer, GII had many innovations, including an advanced hull form, bendy riveted mast with turbulence stimulators in order to increase aerodynamic efficiency, a trim tab on her rudder and super efficiency ‘coffee grinder’ winches.

Gretel II on a windless River Derwent.

She was the first 12-metre to have twin wheels to give the helmsman better visibility when sailing to windward. She is the last Twelve built in wood to race for the America’s Cup.
Racing against the US defender Intrepid in 1970, GII (as she is known in America’s Cup history) showed great potential but had a luckless series, going down winning one race and disqualified after finishing first in another. Intrepid won 4-1.
The performance of an Australian designed, built and sailed yacht against the state-of-the-art US defender stimulated the enthusiasm (and finance) of Alan Bond, culminating in the America’s Cup victory of Australia II, helmed by John Bertrand, in 1983.
In 1977, another champion yachtsman, Gordon Ingate, skippered her in the Challenger Series, with a crew that became known as ‘Dad’s Navy’. She proved no match for the latest 12-metre series but created great interest at Newport.
Since then GII has been owned by the Sydney Maritime Museum but was not well maintained until current owner Michael Maxwell bought her and had her extensively refitted.
Maxwell, with four other yachtsmen, have sailed Gretel II from Sydney to Hobart to “day sail, cruise and race’’ on what he calls the ‘big runway’ of the Derwent.

Gretel II’s knuckle bow.

“We can sail on the broad waters of the Derwent Estuary free of the ferries, shipping and hundreds of pleasure craft that we encountered when sailing on Sydney Harbour,” Maxwell told ‘’The Mercury’’ this week.
‘Twelve metre class yachts take time and space to wind up to hull speed,” he explained we look forward to achieving success in the longer inshore races next summer.” GII may also compete in twilight races.
In fact, GII has already shown her winning ways on the Derwent and the Channel, taking line honours in the Green Island Race on Australia Day in 2011 after being sailed from Sydney to Hobart for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

Quiet day on the Derwent for GII.

At the helm in that race was Gordon Ingate, who skippered GII in her second challenge for the America’s Cup in 1977.
Maxwell plan for GII’s sailing life in Hobart is to put together a crew team comprising experienced keelboat sailors and enthusiast youngsters under the guidance of a prominent local skipper.
“We would like to show younger sailors the old school of spinnaker pole setting among the other facets of sailing a twelve metre,” added Maxwell who had a long involvement with 12-metres going back to Australia’s original challenger Gretel and then Gretel II.

Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Andy Rose, Peter Watson
30 April 2018