Custodian: Peter ‘Pete’ Sullivan; 2006 – 2010
Zephyr was commissioned by Peter ‘Pete’ Sullivan in 2005 and launched in 2006. During his custodianship of Zephyr, Pete was also a significant Hon. Secretary of the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC). The Autumn 2007 edition of the Wooden Boat Shop’s Newsletter ‘Grommet’, recorded that Tim Phillips wrote to Peter in April 2005 confirming the order of the yet-to-be-named Couta Boat, and said that he expected Peter would find having a boat built an exciting and memorable experience.
Tim’s prediction proved to be exactly the case – and more. The keel was laid early the following year and Zephyr was launched just before Christmas. Peter recalled that they loved following the construction throughout 2006 and looked forward to their weekly meetings with Tim and Vaughan McGillivery, who built Zephyr.
It was a terrific experience to see this beautiful boat take shape in the bottom shed and to be involved and included along the way.
After sailing her for four years, Peter reflected:
The experience of owning Zephyr has exceeded our expectations in so many ways; not only is the boat a work of art, she sails so beautifully. Getting started with the boat could have been a daunting experience, but we have been helped along the way by so many people at the Wooden Boat Shop (WBS) in Sorrento, many of whom we now count amongst our friends. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat! Thanks to Tim, Sally, Vaughan and all of the team at the WBS.
Custodian: Max Chester; 2010 – 2020
Max Chester purchased the boat and mooring from Peter Sullivan in 2010, with the boat always being kept at the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC). Max, also, to later become the Vice Commodore of the Club, has been a meticulous owner of Zephyr keeping her in pristine condition. Under his guidance, the boat has enjoyed significant club racing success since 2010, winning the Club Aggregate Championship twice. Over the years her crew has included: Peter Buckingham, Nick Caine, Peter Dempster, Adrian Lamb, Richard Martin, Rod Martin, Ian McDonald, Hamish Richardson and Tom Snowball.
Rod Martin asserts:
The boat was of such a significant design that other boats have used Zephyr as a template to replicate. The Sisters which was commissioned and owned by Mark Liemant, now known and sailed as The Barra and owned by Howard Critchley and his syndicate, is pretty much a carbon copy of the boat. The timbers used in Zephyr were so well prepared that the Huon Pine planking has never leaked a drop even after months of drying out in the yard over winter.
Max Chester has not forgotten a journey when he and Rod Martin sailed Zephyr back from the ISAF Couta Exhibition Race Series off Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC), Port Phillip. Max found Rod’s counsel and companionship on the voyage to be invaluable.
On returning from the 2014 ISAF Couta exhibition race series off Sandringham Yacht Club, the weather turned particularly nasty with 40 knot northerly winds and four metre waves looming over our stern quarter. As we both were due back in Sorrento on the next day, there was no alternative but to set out and trust that Zephyr would deliver us safely back home.
On that particular day Tim Phillips had left earlier on Muriel, but he returned to SYC with two exhausted fishermen whom he had rescued from an upturned ‘tinny’, out in the middle of the bay. And after they were delivered to the authorities, Tim was ready to set out, again, on the homeward journey.
Given the testy conditions, we decided to set out in convoy with Tim on Muriel, along with Jennifer which was sailed by Mark Waterworth and Craig Cumberledge. However, the convoy plan was soon abandoned, as not long into the journey Jennifer broke her mast and headed for Martha Cove to seek shelter in a friend’s berth.
But onwards we sailed with Muriel until we realised that Tim was soon out of sight as he sailed further into the middle of the bay, heading for the Pinnace Channel.
Now, for those who have not traversed the shallows surrounding the Pinnace Channel and the nearby mussel farms, navigating through these seas can be fraught with danger. Wisely, we decided to go it alone and continue down the eastern side of the main shipping channel, making for the South Channel Pile.
In almost gale force wind conditions we sailed under the storm jib, climbing and shooting down the waves, while our faithful Yanmar, ticking over at around 750 RPM, drove the boat in the troughs; we kept our nerve and Zephyr kept her course, delivering us safely back to Sorrento.
From a voyage like that in such challenging conditions, one learns a lot about the strength and resilience of these fantastically seaworthy boats and, how to handle them. Zephyr and her two crew arrived back at Sorrento undamaged, thrilled to have had the experience and eager to do it again. Not for the faint hearted tho’!
Custodian: Max Chester, Richard Martin and Michael Paynter; 2020 – Present
In 2020, Max made a momentous decision to sell his syndicated ownership of Zephyr to Richard Martin and Michael Paynter, while he still retained a share. Richard, who had sailed on the boat for over eight years, declared that the joy he has experienced while sailing on Zephyr left him in no doubt that he wanted to continue his relationship as an owner with this beautiful boat that is a treat to sail and race.