Custodian: Grant Smith; 2008 – Present
Nepean was the first Couta Boat constructed at Corsair Boats in Rosebud, Victoria in 2008. She was designed and built by Mark Abbott for Grant Smith who at that time was the owner of Jennifer C70. The design brief was for a competitive boat, built from Australian native timbers.
The design for Nepean was influenced by the J B Jones Couta Boats of the early 1900s, such as Thistle which is on display at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney. A plumb stem was integral to the design as it allowed for maximum waterline length to be achieved. Coupled with the minimum waterline beam allowed in the Class Rules and flatter buttock lines which would assist off the wind performance, it was felt that this would produce an easily driven hull, capable at all points of sail.
The choice of native timbers for the construction of the boat was an easy one. Huon Pine is widely regarded as the world’s best boatbuilding timber – it was used for the deck, steam bent ribs, transom and coamings. Another native timber King (William) Billy Pine was used for the hull planking, chosen for its lightweight, durability and stability. All the timber for the build was sourced from Tasmanian Special Timbers in Queenstown. A special trip was made to Queenstown to meet with Bern Bradshaw who was able to supply full length King Billy flitches for the hull planking and all of the Huon Pine for the rest of the build.
Grant chose Mark to build his boat because he had just started his new boat building business, Corsair Boats and Grant wanted to help him out. He also trusted Mark because he had designed and built several high performing and very sound Couta Boats at his previous employment. As Grant recalls:
Things didn’t start out too well with a most distressing meeting with the Couta Boat Association (CBA) when we presented the new boat’s plans for approval. The meeting was an challenging experience and almost put me off the whole process. In the end the design was approved, but Mark had been required to modify the design to suit an unusual and short-lived change to the design rules. As it turned out, for only two boats, the Nepean and the Southerly syndicate’s boat being constructed at the same time. Regardless, Nepean is a beautiful boat and when we sail her well, which is not often enough! She’s as good as any other boat at the head of the Sorrento fleet.
Nepean was launched in November, 2008, following approximately 1,400 man-hours of work. According to her builder, Mark Abbott:
The launch went without a hitch and the boat has never leaked a drop.
Nepean continues to be a competitive addition to the Couta Boat fleet at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club. She was placed 1st Handicap, Division 1 in the 2021 State Titles. It is a testament to the build quality of the boat and the care taken of her by her owner, that she is still in ‘as new’ condition 12 years on.