Custodian: Peter Kubale; 1988 – 1991
Kathleen Mary was built in 1988 by Tim Phillips and Mark Abbott at the Wooden Boat Shop in Sorrento. She was commissioned by Peter Kubale and named after Peter’s mother. Her hull is described as big and powerful in its shape, suited to sailing in the stronger breezes.
When Kathleen Mary was first launched at the Rye launching ramp, her hull had opened up, with water flooding in through the centre-case. The then apprentice Mark Abbott, admitted that he had forgotten to check that the centre-case bolts had been tightened, as the timber had dried out during her construction. The launch was quickly aborted and the boat pulled out immediately, but after a couple of hours of repair at the ramp she was then successfully launched.
At the time of her launch, the paint scheme was unusual: purple topsides with a varnished sheer plank, making her a stark contrast to most of the other boats that were painted white.
Peter Kubale sailed Kathleen Mary in the local fleet of the Couta Boat Club. Mark Abbott was one of the crew for a time and has fond memories of Peter’s vigour as helmsman.
It was mandatory to have at least four beers before the start of each race and, needless to say, he wasn’t one for formalities. His opinion was that he had a bigger boat than most, and everyone should get out of his way!
Despite his robust approach, he was generous and well-respected.
Custodian: Richard Williamson; 1991 – 2004
Peter sold Kathleen Mary to Richard Williamson in the 1991 season. She was moored off the jetty at the Sorrento Sailing Club, with her new colour scheme of a dark green hull and black rubbing strip.
Kathleen Mary was campaigned in the local Couta Boat fleet by Richard Williamson and John Adams with success, winning the coveted Portsea Cup in 1997, which Richard claims was ‘a highlight of our sailing career.’ The success was highlighted in a Yachting News article published that year. In the early years, the regular crew on Kathleen Mary included some well-known SSC identities, including Barry Gross, Phillip Haas and Ted Reaks. They were later joined by Sue Adams and Carol Haas. But the competitive sailing was never taken very seriously:
We just enjoyed several beers and a picnic lunch.
Besides the regular crew, Kathleen Mary was also sailed by the female cohort of Richard’s family. His wife Virginia and his daughter were both winners of the Ladies’ Skipper Race, and on another occasion his daughters Jane, Elizabeth and Amy, assisted by their friends, were winners of the ‘All Female Crew’ Division.
Kathleen Mary was not only used for competitive sailing but often for cruising, fishing and picnicking with family and friends on the beautiful waters of Port Phillip; in good weather they even ventured through Port Phillip Heads. Richard has fond memories of sailing single-handed along the coast from Sorrento to Rye:
She was such a perfectly balanced boat, and in the right conditions one could set the sails and she would helm herself.
Custodian: Wayne Nash and Vernon Wood; 2004 – 2014
Richard Williamson sold Kathleen Mary in 2004 to Wayne Nash who changed the colour scheme to white hull and black sheer plank. Richard sailed with Vern Wood out of Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club for about 10 years and enjoyed good success. In this time, Mark Abbott of Corsair Boats maintained the boat from 2008 until she was sold.
Custodian Kelly Holder and Terry Moran; 2014 – 2015
After 25 years in southern waters, Kathleen Mary was purchased in a partnership by Sydneysiders Kelly Holder and Terry Moran in October 2014.
She was transported to Sydney arriving at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC). As she had been in dry dock for the winter, as soon as the travel lift placed her back in the water she began to take water in a major way. Pumps were set up to keep her afloat and temporary measures were used to stem the flow. The pressure was then on to get her ready to race in a regatta a week after she had arrived.
Custodian: Kelly Holder; 2015 – Present
After the acquisition, Kelly started about doing major work on her and after six months, bought out Terry Moran’s share of the partnership. As the sole custodian, Kelly has continually raced and maintained her right up until the present time. However, there were two occasions where she did not race for long periods.
During one race with the RPAYC fleet in a 25 to 30 knot westerly, Kathleen Mary was approaching a mark on the western foreshore of Pittwater, where there is a series of bays. She was close hauled with the wind coming out of Lovett Bay, when there was a brisk 90° change of direction. An extra-large gust came down on top of the fleet from the direction of Morning Bay:
We did not see it coming as it had not hit the water; it buried the bow underwater throwing everyone up off the gunwale and making it impossible to release the jib sheet. We took in quite a large amount of water, with the starter motor covered and the water up over the dipstick. We dropped the sails and she was nursed back to the lee of Scotland Island and then onto her mooring.
The intake of water resulted in the engine being removed, the alternator and starter motor being replaced, and other repairs to the engine undertaken, together with a respray. Hence, Kathleen Mary was out of action for five to six weeks.
On another occasion, prior to the start of a race in the Classic Boat Regatta, a vessel ahead of Kathleen Mary was down to lee and on the same tack, but her helmsman decided to tack and then lost control. Kathleen Mary was T-boned, with the bow of the other vessel punching a hole in the port side and then sliding down the side of the gunwale, taking out the standing rigging and breaking the mast. Even though there were no serious injuries, the crew missed close to four months of racing, due to insurance procedures and repairs.
Kelly keeps working on Kathleen Mary, replacing structural timbers and carrying out modifications. The bronze roller bearing blocks have been replaced with light weight blocks. The mast and rig have been fine-tuned and the gaff yard has been replaced with a Sitka Spruce, one which has a saddle instead of the heavy stainless-steel yolk. All in all, nine kilos have been eliminated from the top of the mast.