Custodians: Peter and Sally Hannah; 1991 – 2000
Armadale was constructed in 1991 for Peter and Sally Hannah, both long time members of the Sorrento Sailing Club (SSC). She was designed by Tim Phillips along classic Couta Boat lines. She was built at the same time as her sister ship, Lisa C71, built for the Goetz family.
Armadale and Lisa were both planked in King William ‘King Billy’ Pine sourced from a small mill in north-west Tasmania and decked with Queensland Beech.
The Hannahs had been regular crew members on Wagtail under the custodianship of Brian Wales in 1986 to 1989 before restoring a 22 foot Lacco clinker, Victoria and were stepping up to their own Division 1 boat. Her design was not as beamy as Mermerus or Wagtail and not as deep in the stern as Muriel built in 1917 pre-engines, and not as extreme in the bow as Kathleen Mary built the year prior in 1990. In the early 1990s, the revival of Couta Boat building was reaching a new peak, with two or three new boats being added to the fleet each year.
Armadale, so named because she was commissioned by Sally and Peter in lieu of buying a house in the Melbourne suburb of Armadale, was much used for family recreation; casual sails, picnics at the Quarantine Station in the Portsea area of southern Port Phillip and fishing trips. The Hannah’s children Kate, Sam and Tim each started their sailing careers on Armadale – if one can consider a career started when only months old strapped into a car capsule sitting on the floor platforms. No rules regarding PFDs in those days.
Armadale raced regularly in her early days out of SSC with some success.
Through the influence of Milton Green, the Lady Skippers Race was sponsored by Mazda. On this occasion, the winning skipper was given a Mazda car to drive for a week. This raised the question, what is the top speed a Mazda 121 can reach coming down the Arthurs Seat freeway? Suffice to say, to the driver’s surprise, but with a speeding ticket as proof, well over 100 kms per hour. A costly win!
A low point for the Armadale was breaking her mast in two places at the conclusion of a race off Portsea in early 1999. She cleared the finish line in a fresh westerly and as she was bearing away to reach home a strong gust hit. The rig responded more quickly than the hull! Luckily for all on board the debris was carried forward and to leeward, and after a time clearing rigging and salvaging sails, all made it home safely.
In earlier years, Armadale has competed in the Williamstown Cup, the Australia Day Regatta, curiously sailed at Mornington, after the Port Melbourne races were dropped from the calendar, and the Gellibrand Trophy. In this period, the Jubilees from Brighton and Sorrento and the Couta Boats would rendezvous at Mornington, taking the opportunity afforded by the Mornington keel boats going to Geelong.
Sailing in this regatta at Mornington in 1996 in moderate conditions she scored her one and only line honours and handicap double. Persevering against the complaints of the boats around her, the crew had spotted the beginnings of a sea breeze in the distance, and refused to tack off to the first mark. After what seemed an eternity she was in the new breeze, freed sheets and glided around the top mark in building pressure leaving all in her wake. A once in a lifetime opportunity, and the Gellibrand and Williamstown Cup trophies to show for it.
Custodians: Tony Bail and later Mark Durran; 2000 – 2018
In the year 2000, Armadale was transferred to long time crew and Club Member Tony Bail, as the Hannah’s bought founding SSC Commodore and local fisherman, Tally Erlandsen’s original 1926 Couta Boat Ripple back from Perth. Armadale raced only occasionally, winning the KPMG Couta Boat Classic but was frequently used for family recreation, particularly introducing Harry and Jesse Bail to the joys of boating and fishing.
Custodians: Tony Bail, Mark Durran, and Peter and Sally Hannah; 2018 – Present
In 2018, the Hannah’s sold Ripple to the SSCBC as a Club training and race boat, and the Hannah family once again re-joined Tony and Mark Durran in their Armadale syndicate, which continues.
In her 30 year history, Armadale has recorded some significant success in Club competition. These have included: the CBA Nationals; the Sorrento Cup; the South Channel Passage Race, and the Wooden Boat Shop Series.
In 2021, now in her 30th year, Armadale competes much less frequently than she used to, reflective of the owners’ multiple commitments and interests, but when the team is on song she still has her moments, winning some major races, the highlight of which was winning 1st Handicap Division 1 (the Couta Boat Trophy) in the 2021 Portsea Cup.