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Olympic 12 Square Metre Champion, 1956. Sailed by P.G. Mander and J.V. Cropp


Olympic 12 Square Metre Champion, 1956. Sailed by P.G. Mander and J.V. Cropp

Canterbury's "Sharpie" campaign began during the winter of 1955, at 3 Quarry Road (now number 5) Christchurch, when Peter and Graham Mander, Jack Cropp and Graeme Wilson started construction on "Jest" and "Quest". The kauri used in their construction came from recycled beams, which Jack Cropp had acquired. About the same time Brian Wall, and a team of helpers, were building "Impudence". Brian supplied the materials and built the hull and Christchurch Yacht Club members supplied the sails, spars and centreboard.

These three new boats joined Canterbury's fourth Sharpie, "Kestrel", built pre-war by Bob Christie of the Pleasant Point Yacht Club and owned post-war by Bob Scott. All four boats were used by local yachtsmen in elimination trials to select two crews for the National Trials which were held at Lyttelton over Easter, 1956.

Canterbury's two crews, Peter Mander and Jack Cropp and Graham Mander and Graeme Wilson, joined Aucklanders Geoff Smale and Lloyd Brookbanks, who had built their own Sharpie, and Wellington representatives Graeme Hargreaves and Wally Paterson, who had never sailed a Sharpie before, at the National Trials. "Jest", "Quest", "Impudence" and the Auckland boat were used, and crews swapped boats throughout the racing to nullify any advantage a particular boat may have had. Peter Mander and Jack Cropp, with two wins and two seconds, were the winners and went on to represent New Zealand at the Olympics in Melbourne later that year. Graham Mander and Graeme Wilson were runners-up, with two wins, a second and a third.

History, of course, records Peter and Jack winning New Zealand's first gold medal in what was yachting's first attempt, and in a class of boat totally new to our yachtsmen. A significant factor in that success was the team effort involved. As Graham Mander points out, "the achievements of the time were largely due to the attitude of those involved at a local level. It made local yachting stronger. We should encourage people to think that way now ? yachting would be the stronger for it. It was a great era for Canterbury yachting ? truly golden!".

"Jest" was raffled locally after the Olympics, with the proceeds forming the basis for an international travel fund. She is now at Mapua, owned by Peter Walker. "Quest" was retained by Jack Cropp, who took out the centrecase and installed a small ballasted keel, which in true Jack Cropp innovative style, could be swung sideways for launching and retrieving. "Impudence" had it's hull shortened at the stern to take an outboard. "Kestrel" was last seen derelict at Pohara Beach.

Contributed by Lindsay Richards - CYA Handbook Convenor 1999-2000

see also the NZ Olympic Sailing Site