Regina was built in 1934 by Peter Locke in Queenscliff, Victoria. She was originally named Gina. As with other Couta Boats built in that time, Gina was purpose-built for catching barracouta. She still bears marks of worn compressed timber from when cray fishing pots were hauled onboard. After her construction, Gina was taken to Port Fairy, a fishing port in south-west Victoria.
Custodian: Jack Williams; 1960 – 1970
Over the years, from 1934, Gina passed through the hands of successive owners but remained at Port Fairy throughout. However, by the 1960s, due to the changing consumer demand for barracouta, the Couta Boat fishermen in Port Fairy turned to cray fishing as an additional source of income. In this period Gina was owned by Jack ‘Red’ Williams who used her for ‘couta and cray fishing.
Custodian: Smith and Hiscox; 1970 – 1976
Circa 1970, Gina was sold to commercial fishermen Smith and Hiscox from Port Fairy.
Custodian: Peter Terjesen;1976 – 1977
In 1976, Peter Terjesen became the new custodian of Gina and used her for ‘couta and cray fishing.
Custodian: Ian Towers; 1977 – 1978
Two years later, Gina was sold to Ian Towers of Portland who purchased her so as to procure her cray licence, and within a short period he sold Gina in 1978 to John Edgar in Portland.
Custodian: John Edgar; 1978 – 1983
John used Gina for commercial fishing mainly in the Bay of Portland, for as long as the ‘couta were running. But when the ‘couta ceased coming into the bay, the fishermen were forced to seek fishing grounds further afield. They would fish as far as the Lawrence Rocks, which were about three nautical miles off-shore, but worked generally south-east around to the west of Portland so as to keep clear and avoid any dispute over of the ‘territorial’ waters of the Port Fairy fishermen.
Five years on, John sold Gina to purchase a larger fishing boat. But he retained her original nameplate ‘P.Locke Jnr., Queenscliff’ for his private collection.
Custodian: Martin Bryan;1983 -1996
In the early 1980s, Tim Phillips was searching along the Victorian coastline for Couta Boats that were no longer in use as fishing vessels and that could be renovated and rigged to sail in the growing Couta Boat fleet at Portsea and Sorrento. Tim and prospective buyer Martin Bryan made their way to Portland, where, on behalf of Martin, Tim purchased Gina in her unfinished state and transported her back to Portsea. Martin employed Metung boatbuilder Graham Aldersea to undertake a complete restoration and install a new engine.
Once restored and fitted for sailing, a new era began for Gina. She was relaunched in 1984 and renamed Regina. Immediately, she became part of the Couta Boat fleet sailing in the regular races off Portsea. She was considered to be a very fast boat and succeeded in winning the Portsea Cup on Handicap in 1986 and 1994.
Martin attributes Gina’s racing success to her very skilled crew who sailed her for seven years: Johnny Gash (Gashie) who was an Olympic sailor and a regular Sydney Hobart Yacht Race crew, and John Foster, Bill McNamara and Steve Walsh, all of whom were skilled sailors.
Custodian: Roger Bastone; 1996 – 1998
Roger Bastone from Tasmania was Regina’s custodian from 1996 to 1998. At the time, Roger’s experiences were that it was too cold to sail down in Tassie so he bought her back to Port Phillip and sold her to Janette Ellis in 1998.
Custodian: Janette Ellis; 1998 – Present
Janette Ellis, who sailed on Regina from 1990 – 1996 with Marty Bryan, John Foster and John Gash, is the present custodian of Regina.
Janette helmed Regina for racing in the Division 1 fleet out of the Sorrento Sailing Club (SSC) before joining the recently formed Division 2 fleet. She was ably assisted by her crew John Foster and John Gash, with family and friends at other times. Janette regards Regina to be an excellent boat in heavy weather, having being caught out on more than one occasion when a front came through. Once, off Portsea when a 70 knot front came in smashing several boats, Regina simply bobbed up and down and plodded on her way.
Regina was also used for fishing, most commonly catching King George whiting, squid, salmon in the vicinity of Port Phillip Heads, and always flathead. When not racing or being used for fishing, Regina was utilized in a variety of roles including: as a tender to bring brides and wedding parties into the piers at The Baths, Sorrento Pier and Portsea Pier; by dive groups exploring Port Phillip, bringing up bounties of scallops and abalone (according to the rules of such restricted catch), and as a rescue vessel towing boats back to the ramp at Sorrento.
Janette recalls Regina’s participation in the festival marking the occasion of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 as a pinnacle experience, especially for her 80 year old father who was onboard for the festivities. There was much preparation and much to anticipate. Regina was jury-rigged, with the mast replaced with a smaller version to hold the fairy lights; there were battery packs, eskies and people onboard; from the shore could be heard music and two-way radios barking directions, with boats and floats all creating a festival atmosphere.
The journey back to Sorrento, however, was a vastly different experience for Janette who sailed solo. She gives an account of her journey.
On the way home from the Games (Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, 2006) I set off solo from Docklands, Port Melbourne on a beautiful morning with an average weather forecast, but sailable, coffee in one hand, tiller in the other, singing along, happy as a lark.
By the time I was near Brighton the wind had whipped up to an increasing high 20 + knots chopping up the seas, I was drenched from head to foot and the diesel canister had spilt into the floor, slippery as, and smelt horrible – especially after the rum the night before.
This was in a time before we had radio on board and my phone was not highly charged. I was in my element though, not a worry, tiller between my legs standing proud albeit wet as a shag, pushing on south down Port Phillip – heading home.
But my idyllic sail was not to last. I looked up to see a Navy frigate signal me and, given that I don’t know Morse code, I was feeling vulnerable. I’d lost my hat earlier and had water running down my face trying to think? Why are they coming so close? And my, my… that is a big boat.
I wasn’t about to pull up and talk to them. So Regina and I put our heads forward and ploughed on – Regina looked so small compared to the frigate. I learnt later that they were trying to ascertain what I was doing out on the bay and if I needed any assistance. I didn’t think I was a national threat! They eventually moved off about 5 nautical miles and followed me for about an hour.
Regina danced and coursed her way, enjoying riding the waves so well. If I tried to sit down I was buffered about too much, so bracing my feet on the inside of the cockpit, and trying to stay warm and on target, was all I could do. I had confidence in Regina.
I remember arriving back at Sorrento late in the afternoon, cold, drenched, hungry, thirsty, with every muscle aching in my body. I’ll never forget this game-face and long wet race to Sorrento, Regina and I did that day.
Regina is moored at Sorrento, Victoria.