Isabel C26

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Boat Details

Current Custodian:
Rob Bennett


Early Years
Isabel, formerly known as Wyn, was built by Cayzers at Queenscliff, Victoria in 1949 to 1950.

Her history from 1950 to the mid 1980s is not known, but it is possible that she was used to fish out of Western Port Bay, Victoria for some of those years.

Custodians: David Boycott and Michael Gibson; 1985 – 1986
Circa 1985, Wyn was purchased by David Boycott and Michael Gibson. In his younger days, David was an Australian Olympic rower and he also showed a keen interest in the performance of Couta Boats.

Michael arranged to have the boat restored by Chris Young, a local and competent boat builder at Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

Custodian: D W Harrison; 1986 – 1987
Sometime in 1986, Wyn was purchased by D W Harrison and was moored at Fishermans Beach in Portsea at the southern end of Port Phillip. However, here she broke her mooring, but thankfully she floated towards the shore and managed to lodge her keel between two rocks, staying upright and completely undamaged but for some minor scratches on the antifoul.

Custodian: Zich Zichy-Woinarski; 1987 – 2016
In November 1987, Isabel was purchased by Zich Zichy-Woinarski by courtesy of an inheritance from his godmother, Isabel, and thus the name change.

Zich campaigned Isabel very hard and successfully in Couta Boat Club events from 1987 until the early 2000s, nearly always in Division 1. Thereafter, she was still a regular at the Portsea Cup and in other occasional races.

Regular crew on Isabel included Sorrento Sailing Club (SSC) junior member Ben Fels.

The first time I saw Isabel I was at SSC in a ‘rubber duck’ and knowing that my boss was out sailing on Isabel, at the end of the race I went past and handed them some beers and was asked if I could join the crew.

And so he did for a number of years until moving to Sydney for eight years and then resumed on his return in 2000. Now an International Judge and International Umpire, and Sailing Manager at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, Ben learned his tactical and team skills all those years ago on Isabel.

Also on board was long time Sorrento sailor Ross Chisholm, who having won multiple State and National Titles in the Jubilee class, was able to apply local knowledge and well-honed skills to maximising Isabel’s on-water performance.

The addition of Ben, Ross and also accomplished Finn class sailor Campbell Rose, then CEO of Yachting Victoria, to Isabel’s crew, formed an impressive crew. For the next eight years the crew, including Zich, sailed Jubilees on Saturday and Couta Boats on Sunday. This crew was so integrally connected to both fleets.

Ben said that often they would use a No 2 jib and a reef. He is still of the opinion that a Couta Boat will be better balanced and sail faster in the stronger wind conditions when reefed.

Custodian: Rob Bennett; 2016 –
After a lifetime of admiring Couta Boats; working for Gilcraft Boats in Queenscliff in his student days and completing the restoration of Couta Boat Daisy in the early 1980s, Rob pursued a dream of owning a Couta Boat.

After the sale of his farm and vineyard, he sought the advice of boatbuilder Tim Phillips and together, they settled on Isabel in December 2017.

Isabel is now moored in Queenscliff Harbour, not 30 metres from where she was launched in Cayzer’s slipway in 1950. She has been a great source of pleasure for Rob, his family and friends.

Whilst we don’t race her, we enjoy shaking out the sails exploring our end of the bay.

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