Custodian: Ian and Maria Cootes and Mark Foley; 2001 – 2002
Custodian: Mark Foley; 2001 – 2010
Matilda was built in 2001 at the Wooden Boat Shop (WBS) in Sorrento, Victoria. She was commissioned by Ian and Maria Cootes and son-in-law at the time, Mark Foley, and was named after Mark’s young daughter, Matilda.
Having grown up on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Mark had long admired the elegant lines and grace of the Couta Boats on the water and when Ian suggested they build a boat, Mark immediately contacted Tim Phillips at the WBS. At the time, Tim was building a boat as a ‘spec’ from the moulds of Jennifer and Whisper that had been built 10 years earlier, along the lines of the classic Queenscliff Couta Boat. This boat became Matilda. She is built of New Zealand Kauri, with a Teak deck and Oregon spars, and was launched in November, 2001.
Ian and Mark sailed Matilda in the Division 1 fleet at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC) throughout 2002; she was also raced by boat builder Wayne Parr. Then, in 2003, Mark took over her custodianship and campaigned her over the next six years with a regular crew comprising: Jed Burns, Tom Cambridge, Matt Hill, Ross McDonald and others.
Mark described the racing out of SSCBC in that time to be a fantastic experience and loved that Matilda was pitted against other competitive boats such as Rhapsody, Mystify and Whisper ensuring healthy competition and excellent racing. In 2007, Matilda claimed victory with Line Honours and 1st Handicap in the Couta Boat Association (CBA) National Titles and in the following year, 2008, she won 1st Handicap in the Queenscliff Couta Boat Regatta.
In addition to SSCBC racing, Mark and her crew sailed Matilda beyond the local waters to Geelong to attend the biennial Wooden Boat Festival and participated with other Couta Boats in the 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony on the Yarra River in Melbourne. Frequent trips were made to Queenscliff, and, to ‘test their mettle’, they had the occasional sail through The Rip and beyond Port Phillip Heads into Bass Strait.
It was the mix of competition and pleasure sailing in Matilda that appealed most to Mark. However, it was not to last forever. In 2010, circumstances changed, resulting in a change of custodianship.
Custodian: Richard Hart; 2010 – 2014
Richard Hart, Senior Pilot at Port Phillip Sea Pilots, Queenscliff, became the new custodian of Matilda.
Because Richard’s home base was at the top end of Port Phillip, Matilda did not stay in the local Sorrento waters; she was moved to a swing mooring off the Sandringham Yacht Club. But the links to Couta Boat fleet remained strong.
For the summer season, Richard took Matilda down to Sorrento to race the major CBA events, including the State and National titles. Then at the top end of the bay Matilda competed in the Classic Yacht Association Australia Regattas out of Williamstown and St Kilda, ensuring her rightful place in a fleet of fine classic craft.
In November, 2013, Matilda joined other SSCBC Couta Boats that were transported north to compete in the Gaffers Regatta on Sydney Harbour. With champion sailors Nigel Abbott and Colin Mitchell on board, Matilda scored 2nd Line Honours in the Rangers and Couta Boat Division, in testy conditions with wind gusts over 40 knots.
After the Gaffers race, Matilda was sailed from Sydney Harbour to a mooring on Pittwater, NSW where she remained for most of 2014, with the prospects of a potential buyer. When a sale did not eventuate Matilda returned to the southern waters of Port Phillip and was purchased by a syndicate of local sailors.
Custodian: David Angus, Peter Angus, Stephen Clarke and David Lindsay; 2014 – 2020
Custodian: David Angus, Peter Angus, Stephen Clarke and John Scholten; 2020 – Present
Matilda’s new custodians were David Angus, Peter Angus, Stephen Clarke and David Lindsay.
Immediately after the purchase, Matilda was transported back to the WBS in Sorrento where she was repainted and prepared for a return to the Division 1 fleet at Sorrento.
After some initial adjustment to the boat, the syndicate members have enjoyed some wonderful sailing on Matilda. In 2016, their competency as a crew was rewarded with 1st Handicap in the Portsea Cup. In addition to this premier win, Matilda has had podium finishes in numerous races. David Angus regards her to be;
A true classic; a tribute to the artistry of Tim Phillips.
In 2017, Matilda returned to Sydney Harbour and Pittwater to compete in the Australian National Titles and other events, including the Thistle Cup in which she was placed 2nd . The crew enjoyed the thrill and spectacle of sailing in waters that have frequent and significant wind shifts.
Sadly, syndicate member David Lindsay died in 2020. His friend John Scholten felt honoured to join the syndicate as he had sailed regularly with David and the team since 2015, as mainsheet hand. Vale David.
In the care of this syndicate, expect to see Matilda in the SSCBC fleet for many more years.