Custodian: Chris Bowman; 1999 – Early 2000s
Eclipse RF19 was the first Couta Boat to be built in Western Australia.
She was built in 1999 by Chris Bowman of Malabar Boatworks, Freemantle, WA which was then located in the historic shipping sheds on Fremantle’s Victoria Quay. Chris is one boatbuilder with a tale to tell. He has self-published two books, including: ‘Me, the boat and a guy named Bob’ that tells a tale of how he learnt to build boats in the Caribbean, under the trees on the beach in Bequia, where he met a guy named Bob whose surname was Dylan. Bob and Chris were partners in Water Pearl, the schooner they built.
Eclipse was designed by Chris to comply with the then Couta Boat regulations. She features a shallow forefoot and a tighter garboard, which gives a slightly shallower quarter buttock rise. She also has a spruce laminated curved gaff. Construction was assisted by Carl Ollivierre who has been involved with Merlin and who has been the cornerstone of all things ‘Couta’ at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (RFBYC) fleet.
Eclipse’s construction is a splined Huon Pine hull and transom; Queensland Beech decks, Jarrah keel, grown Oak stem with Oregon and Spruce spars. For her first year she featured clear topsides with Endeavour oil finish until the Perth summer sun proved too fierce.
Custodians: John Leggo and Gus Simpson; Early 2000s – 2006
Not long after her construction, Eclipse was sold by her owner to finance a second Couta Boat build, Roulette. Her new owners were John Leggo and Gus Simpson.
Custodians: Allister Inglis and Jim Wilshire; 2006 – Present
In 2006 Eclipse was purchased by Allister Inglis and Jim Wilshire, who decided they needed a boat to go twilight sailing on, with a beer or two. After winning the inaugural Around Rottnest Race a couple of months later, they caught the racing bug and in Jim’s words;
Started the slippery slope of competitive yacht racing.
Eclipse has been updated over time with a new rudder, an enclosed prop aperture, modern deck gear, and a cut down centre-plate.
After winning the inaugural WA State Championships, it seemed like a good idea to truck Eclipse across the Nullarbor Desert to compete in the 2017 Nationals at the Sydney Couta Week. Eclipse became the first Couta Boat to sail in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, travelling the furthest distance east and west.
Journey across the Nullarbor:
Eclipse, however, arrived at the end of her journey as a rudderless and very leaky boat. She survived the Nullarbor leg but met some misfortune between Bordertown in South Australia and Horsham in Victoria. As soon as the trucking company realised the rudder had shaken loose, they sent someone to drive back three hours and found the spot on the road where it came off, but couldn’t find the rudder. But all was not lost, as Jim reflected:
It’s typical of the sailing fraternity. Our Couta Boat mates rallied to assist and made headlines in the online Sail World magazine.
Whilst a few owners offered their spare rudders, Sorrento boatbuilder, Tim Phillips, came to their rescue by supplying a standard blank rudder to be faired and shaped to suit. As a result, Eclipse was ready to compete in the Nationals with a new state-of-the-art rudder.
Eastern States Connections:
After the Nationals, Jim and Allister elected to return to the West via a detour to Sorrento, Victoria, where they took on the Division 1 Couta Boat fleet in the Portsea Cup. It was these close connections that led them to an enthusiastic purchase of Southerly C2008, and more ‘couta mania’.
Notwithstanding, Eclipse remains the home-based boat and is penned at RFBYC. She is sailed throughout the summer, while Southerly is sailed when her owners can manage the time to fly east.
Ratcliff, L. (2017). Eclipsed rudder replaced in time for Couta Boat Nationals. Sail World Cruising Newsletter. https://www.sail-worldcruising.com/