Custodian: Phil Edwards; 2001 – Present
Gemfish was commissioned by Phil Edwards to a design by John Savage as a medium wind-strength Couta Boat, inspired by the hull lines of Surprise C14 and C97. Extensive design work was undertaken to settle the form and balance.
She was built by Tim Helliwell under the guidance of Tim Phillips at the Wooden Boat Shop, Sorrento. The spars of Sitka Spruce and the rudder were constructed by David Golding, a master classic yacht shipwright. Notably in design, Gemfish displays reduced wetted surface and is quick in wind strength below 16 knots.
Early sailing trials found a particularly difficult sailing balance in moderate and more wind strength, whereby maximum crew weight had to be moved uncomfortably aft when the centre-board was fully down for best upwind performance, then crew weight fully forward when the centre-board was set for downwind.
This issue of the build was subsequently addressed by other shipwrights in shortening and reducing the area and wetted surface of the centre-board and shifting it aft to the original design position.
Although she was not heavily campaigned over her early years whilst the key construction and balance issues were being resolved, Gemfish has performed well in a number of events in the Division 1 fleet at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC), particularly when helmed by Nigel Abbott, former owner of Whisper and Romy.
Gemfish has received podium results in SSCBC and other races on Port Phillip including: 3rd Handicap in the 2005 Portsea Cup and 3rd Line Honours and 2nd Handicap in the 2015 Winter Series.
Gemfish gained Line Honours to secure the Couta Boat Association (CBA) win of the Guineas Cup in the 2013 three race non handicap event, held the evening prior to The Cup regatta run by the Classic Yacht Association of Australia (CYAA), hosted by Royal Yacht Club of Victoria on Hobson’s Bay, Melbourne. The format was based on two Classic (CYAA) boats racing two (CBA) Couta Boats over three windward leeward races.