Custodian: Justus Veeneklaas; 2004 – 2012
Tenacity was commissioned by Justus Veeneklaas and built by Tim Phillips at the Wooden Boat Shop (WBS) in Sorrento, Victoria in 2004. Justus hailed from the Netherlands and retained a life-long interest in the maritime heritage of his forefathers, specifically traditional wooden boat sailing. He was also a champion yachtsman so was well qualified to commission the build of a gaff-rigged Couta Boat.
The design brief to Tim Phillips was to build the best Couta Boat he had ever built, and of the best materials and his favourite design. In turn, Tim regarded Justus as a visionary who could envision and implement great ideas.
For the design, Tim took the lines of Mermerus built in 1937, reduced the beam just a little bit and increased the draft to the minimum Couta Boat Association (CBA) rules, then drew up the plans for the build. She was built at 26 ft 7 inches in length. As Justus was a Sydneysider, once the build was finished the boat was transported to Justus’s home club, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) on Pittwater, NSW.
Shortly after Tenacity’s arrival, Tim received a request from Justus for a flagpole:
I need one of those big flagpoles you build, not the single poll one, but with the yard arm, fiddled top mast and gaff just like on a sailing ship.
Tim installed the flagpole for Justus at his water front home in Pittwater and Tenacity won the Couta Boat race that afternoon, which was a fitting tribute to her custodian and her builder.
For the next eight years, Tenacity was campaigned successfully by Justus and his crew out of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on Pittwater, Sydney. In this period, when work commitments sometime precluded Justus from regular racing, Peter Hemery would take the helm. Peter also maintained the boat and organised a cohort of sailors who became the regular crew on Tenacity.
Sadly, in April 2012 Tenacity’s crew were delivered the news of Justus’ untimely death. He suffered a massive heart attack whilst on board his beloved boat. In Justus’ eulogy, Bruce Stannard writes:
The lovely Huon Pine Couta Boat he had aptly named Tenacity. The name was a direct reflection of his indomitable spirit… He died in my arms on the foredeck. I cannot imagine a more fitting end for any sailor.
See Appendix below for Justus Veeneklaas’s eulogy ‘Across the Bar’ delivered by Bruce Stannard AM. Vale Justus.
Custodian: Terry Moran; 2012 – 2013
After Justus’ death, Tenacity was sold by the family to Terry Moran who campaigned her for a brief time before selling her to Don Telford in 2013.
Custodian: Don Telford; 2013 – 2019
Don, who was a long-time experienced sailor, was originally from Victoria and had sailed a Couta Boat on Port Phillip in the 1980s. Even though there was a change of custodianship, Tenacity continued to be competitive, with Don as the helmsman with Tenacity’s regular crew onboard.
She was successful in winning the premier Wattle Cup regatta in three successive years: 2014, 2015 and 2016 and was proclaimed winner of the Couta Boat Association, Australian Nationals title in 2017.
In the period of Don’s custodianship, he moved up to south-eastern Queensland. For most of this time Tenacity remained at Pittwater and was campaigned by Peter Hemery and others, but in 2018 she was then transported to Broadwater, Gold Coast, Qld. Don’s intention was to find crew who were willing to commit to regular sailing, but the difficulty of establishing a regular cohort, coupled with the hazards of dealing with the tricky tidal flow and shallows in Broadwater, was not conducive to good sailing. So Tenacity was returned to Pittwater.
Custodian: Ian Redwood; 2019 – Present
In early 2019, Tenacity was sold to former Victorian Ian Renwood, now residing in Sydney. Having sailed on a raft of different yachts over the years, Ian has an extensive sailing history. His connection with Couta Boats dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when he sailed on various Couta Boats that formed the early fleet out of Sorrento. In Sydney, Ian competed in the Old Gaffers Regatta out of Sydney Amateur Sailing Club (SASC) and when the opportunity arose, he purchased his own gaff-rigged boat, Tenacity.
Tenacity is now located at Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club (RPEYC) located at Point Piper, from where she is regularly sailed in the local fleet and the major regattas held on Sydney Harbour. Ian reports that they have had some ‘stops and starts’ in the past season but managed to get out for six races in the Classic Division of the Winter series, sailed out of the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club (SASC) at Mosman.
Ian is assured that Tenacity will be a part of the Renwood family for many years.
My son Nicholas has really taken to her, he’s presently being trained by Nev Whitty in the match racing youth programme at the Squadron. So he’s destined to be a much better sailor than me.
Appendix: ‘Across the Bar.’ Eulogy delivered by Bruce Stannard AM, April 2012, (reproduced with permission).
When Justus Veeneklaas, an old and much-loved friend died in my arms recently, the sudden and dramatic loss left me profoundly shaken and set me thinking about the tenuous nature of our existence. While most people naturally prefer not to dwell on the all too brief span of our lives, very few of us appear to be prepared for, much less reconciled to, its inevitable ending. I was one of them, but not any more.
Justus, who would have been 70 in July, had a distinguished career in international business. He and Marianne, his wife of 50 years, shared a passionate interest in music, the theatre, literature and art – all areas in which he was an exceptionally generous benefactor and patron. He invariably had constructive and carefully considered opinions on most things and was never shy in expressing them. I admired his candour and his sparkling good humour.
Justus was a tall, sandy-haired, blue-eyed Frieslander, a native of the Netherlands’ northern-most province, but woe betide anyone who called him a Dutchman. He saw himself as a Viking, a descendant of the seaborne invaders who swept out of Norway in the 10th century to conquer the Low Countries and overrun much of Britain and Europe. His abiding passion, which we shared, was an interest in traditional wooden sailing boats. He was a champion yachtsman with a long record of success in blue-water classics and in around-the-buoys regattas.
On the day of his death we had spent a delightful afternoon together aboard the lovely Huon Pine Couta Boat he had aptly named Tenacity. The name was a direct reflection of his own indomitable spirit. Life had dealt him some pretty tough cards: triple bypass heart surgery, kidney failure and a more or less constant regime of dialysis, but he never complained and was always up-beat and optimistic. Although most people of his age have long since retired, he remained busy building a new start-up company. He found time for golf three days a week and had even plunged into learning the clarinet. So here was a man who plainly loved life and enjoyed it to the full.
We spent an unforgettable four hours together on his boat on Pittwater. The autumn sun was shining out of a cloudless blue sky. A gentle nor’easter was blowing and so we went out to encourage his two young grandsons, Finn and Charlie, who were off in their own little Optimist dinghies, being coached by their father, Menno. There was an easy banter between them all as the boys crouched in their dinghies and watched the tell-tale ribbons in the rigging for signs of the breeze. Justus was clearly very proud of the wee boys and he spoke to them with respect and admiration.
We went back the Veeneklaas family home at Newport, made the boat fast to the jetty at the foot of the garden and tucked into a splendid salad luncheon under the shade of a waterfront gazebo. Here was the quintessential Australian experience: kids in their dinghies under the eyes of a doting dad and their beaming grandparents. In a world full of chaos and uncertainty for so many people, here was an Australian family doing what Aussie families have always done. It was reassuring to me at least, that in the midst of so much social change, some things stay the same. But then, just when everything seemed so blissfully perfect, along came the killer blow.
We were attaching the cover on Tenacity when Justus suffered a massive heart attack. He died in my arms on the foredeck. I cannot imagine a more fitting end for any sailor. Justus Veeneklaas was farewelled in a private ceremony and according to his wishes, his ashes were scattered at sea just north of Barrenjoey Head.’