The profiles listed in this Register have been documented from the stories and photos contributed by custodians and others who willingly shared information. Readers who have additional information about the history of any Couta Boat are invited to forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org so that it can be added to the Register.
Designed by Wooden Boat Shop with owner Peter Gale
Planking and Deck: Huon Pine
Mast and Spas: Spruce
Custodian: Peter Gale; 2003 – 2007
Former world champion and Olympic Star class sailor Peter Gale’s interest in Couta Boats grew after having spent a few seasons sailing with Nigel Abbott on Whisper C92.
Ultimately, in collaboration with Mark Abbott and the Wooden Boat Shop (WBS), Sorrento Peter came up with a design for Vivienne C2003, her original name, that incorporated all the good aspects of past Couta Boats. She was named after Peter’s wife, Vivienne Gale.
Peter’s discerning eye delivered fair and pretty lines. She is traditionally built with the added integrity of a premium Huon Pine hull and deck. The aim was to produce a boat with better manoeuvrability, acceleration and balance. After looking at line drawings of current boats, Mark Abbott at the WBS drew a number of preliminary sketches to various ideas proposed by Peter. Eventually, they went for a shallow bow with a fine entry straight to a narrow waterline width. Peter wanted a straight exit which meant a wide transom.
Tim Helliwell built the boat at the WBS, and Mark Rimington and Peter set about creating sails to complete the package, with a view to replicating the sections of successful Star sails. The smaller turning circle and faster acceleration were immediately apparent.
Peter says it took him about a season to come to terms with the idiosyncrasies of the Couta Boat design. This is probably a very modest evaluation on his part! Ultimately, the boat was an incredible success, winning Line Honours in every race in Division 1 at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC) over two seasons.
In 2007, when Peter opted to be a Race Officer at SSCBC, it was time to sell Vivienne. At about the same time, champion sailor Nigel Abbott had helmed Vivienne at an event in Flinders on Western Port and discovered she was a delight to sail. Nigel describes that thrill of sailing Vivienne in that race;
As the boat heeled, the narrow beam immersed fuller topsides which added stiffness and gently lifted her bow to windward. Mast and spars of Spruce were uncommon but superior; rigging and running tackle laid out by an experienced yachtsman – running freely, encouraging the crew to trim and respond to the conditions.
Nigel decided that he just had to have her!
Custodian: Nigel Abbott; 2008 – 2017
In January 2008, Nigel became Vivienne’s custodian who, in turn, sold Whisper to Milton Green; both deals were finalised in the same hour on the SSCBC jetty. Permission was sought to change thre boat’s name from Vivienne, named after Peter’s wife, to Romy, the name of Nigel’s daughter. Nigel suggesting;
You can’t sail someone else’s wife!
With Nigel as her custodian, Romy became the most successful Couta Boat to claim successive Line Honours victory in the Division 1 fleet out of SSCBC.
Custodian: David Hendy; 2017 – Present
In 2017, David Hendy and Andrew Skinner heard that Nigel Abbott might be interested in selling Romy. Jane and Nigel had of recent years, enjoyed outings on David’s Palm Beach motor launch. After meeting with Jane and Nigel, David decided to buy Romy to campaign her on a regular basis. David was also hopeful that at some point Nigel would re-engage and perhaps come and sail, once again, with him on Romy.
Romy continues her reputation as the most successful Line Honours racing Couta Boat out of SSCBC. In season 2020, Romy proved her competitive nature winning, on Line Honours, all major championships against the latest designs.
Romy has a regular crew including, at times, helmsman Nigel. The crew’s motto is to
Sail hard, then to play hard.
David maintains the boat meticulously. Romy is certainly one of the most appealing Huon Pine Couta Boats moored at SSCBC.
Custodian: Adam Richards and family; 2022 – Present
In 2022, Romy was sold to Adam Richards. The arrangement was that David and his crew would finish the summer series sailing Romy and the Richards family would relaunch her in readiness for the NSW State and the National Titles held on Sydney Harbour and Pittwater NSW, in October.
A change in custodianship triggered a name change. In discussion with former custodians Peter Gale (Vivienne), Nigel Abbott and David Hendy (Romy), the boat was renamed Sandy, in memory of Adam’s mother Sandra (Sandy) Richards (nee Hattam) who passed away early in 2021.
The Richards family comprising Adam and Alice, their three children George, Lachie and Emily, and their partners Georgia, Carrie and Harry, were a unique family crew competing on Sandy in the Sydney regattas and honouring Sandra (Sandy) in their success. Sandy was placed 3rd on Handicap in the NSW State Titles and 11th on handicap in the National Titles
We have a lot to learn, and have been away from sailing individually and as a family for over a decade, but we come together on Sandy and are ‘having a ball.’