Custodian: Brett Almond; 1997 – 2000
Elise was built in 1997 by Brett Almond at St Leonards on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria. She was built for Brett’s father Bob ‘Nutty’ Almond to be used for recreational sailing.
She is 20 foot 9 inches in length and is planked in Iroko with an Iron Bark keel, Spotted Gum ribs and Queensland Beech deck.
Custodian: Wes Oswin; 2000 – 2005
Elise was then sold to Wes Oswin. Wes was born into a family of cray fishermen that operated out of Queenscliff, Victoria so his life was destined to be associated with the boats and the sea. He spent time in the Water Police and with the Port Phillip Sea Pilots. He is also the owner of a beautifully restored Tasmanian Cray boat, Derwent Pride. Given his close connection with the Queenscliff environs, it is not surprising he raced Elise out of Queenscliff, with impressive results.
Until this time Elise had never been raced, however, given her lines, she showed great promise. Wes constructed a longer boom and gaff and fitted a new Jarrah jibboom. New sails were cut by David Wilson at North Sails.
In this period, Elise competed out of Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC). This involved a sailing trip of up to an hour each way from Queenscliff to the starting line; a commitment regularly undertaken by Wes and his crew.
In her first race she won Line Honours in Division 2, and was considered one of the fastest of the Division 2 Couta Boats. In 2002, she was the aggregate winner of the Couta Boat Series at the Geelong Festival of Sail Regatta.
Custodian: Antony Osborne; 2005 – 2008
Wes then sold her to Antony Osborne Snr. who sailed for a period before selling in 2008 to her current custodian, Sorrento sailor Mark Gray.
Custodian: Mark Gray; 2008 – Present
Elise is now moored across the bay from Queenscliff, at SSCBC and is a regular participant in the Division 2 fleet. As one of the few Division 2 boats newly constructed, she points high on the breeze, handles the dynamics well and has a good show of speed for her length.
In the South Channel Passage Race of 2011, starting with Division 2, assisted by the breeze dropping out at the South Channel Pile, which caused the fleet to bunch up and even resort to anchor, she managed to sneak around the mark and head for home in her own breeze, holding off all comers from both Divisions 1 and 2, to be first across the finish line in what was by then, inshore at least, a strengthening sea breeze.
Whilst Division 2 boats offer the advantage and pleasures of fewer crew, there is no denying the mathematics that a shorter waterline with less sail area equals a lower hull speed. The crew of Elise discovered this inevitability when setting off to cross The Rip at Port Phillip Heads in search of a lunch, of the famed Queenscliff fish and chips.
The journey commenced in a 10 to 15 knot southerly. Custodian Mark Gray, being an obsessive surfer, thought it might be good to check out the Quarantine point break beside Corsair Rock at the mouth of Port Phillip Heads. Having checked out the surf it was time to head back in towards Queenscliff. There was a strong ebb tide. The tide was going out faster than Elise was coming in. With engine on and jib poled out, Elise was surfing down a standing wave, full speed, making no headway at all! By the time they decided to cross the tide on a broad reach to Point Lonsdale and head back in the shallower inshore waters to Queenscliff, the fish and chip shop was just about to close for the day. A hard-fought meal – but well worth the effort!