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Half hull model of 12-metre yacht GRETEL II

Date: 1991
Overall: 141 x 682 mm, 0.85 kg
Medium: Jelutong wood coated with sanding sealer, primer, automotive lacquer
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Half block model
Object No: 00015621
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    This builder's half block model was made by Frank Allen after the 12-metre yacht, GRETEL II.
    SignificanceThis model is a record of the innovations in 12-metre yacht design during the late 1960s, when Australia produced a series of yachts as challengers to the America's Cup. GRETEL II was led by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron for the Cup in 1970. The yacht was Australia's second challenger and the last wooden 12-metre built anywhere in the world. It remains the only surviving wooden 12-metre yacht still sailing in Australia. It is a lasting tribute to the 12-metre class before it became outmoded in 1987 and, it represents an important episode in Australia's yacht building history.
    HistoryGRETEL II was built for a syndicate headed by Sydney based media owner Sir Frank Packer who had challenged for the America's Cup with GRETEL in 1962. Packer retained designer Alan Payne who had shown with GRETEL that he could produce a different and competitive design. GRETEL II continued his innovative approach with a very different hull shape to other contemporary 12 metres, and it carried many unusual custom designed fittings.

    The yacht was launched in March 1970, behind schedule, but immediately drew praise from commentators for its bold approach and striking appearance. It was shipped to the USA and rigged with the new racing spar for the first time. Whilst the first race of the America's Cup series was an embarrassment for the Australians, losing by a wide margin when a crew member fell overboard, the second race has legendary status in Australian yachting and sporting history. A collision at the start stalled GRETEL II and INTREPID got away to hold a lead of around one minute for the first four legs. On the fifth leg GRETEL II sailed through INTREPID under spinnaker to lead by 50 seconds into the last beat to windward, and held on to win by just over a minute. Unfortunately, the win was short lived, the race committee ruled that GRETEL II had infringed INTREPID at the start and awarded the race to INTREPID. Packer created headlines when he stated that having the protest heard by the holders of the trophy, the New York Yacht Club was akin to complaining 'to your mother-in-law about your wife'.

    Despite this setback it was now apparent that GRETEL II was a fast yacht, and showed over the next three races that it had the speed to match the American yacht. The experienced American skipper Bill Ficker managed to stay ahead with better tactics on the race course, except for the fourth race where GRETEL II used its superior light weather speed to break through the American cover on the last leg. The close series rattled the Americans who could see that they no longer held a technological advantage in terms of boat construction.

    Packer considered a third challenge after his narrow loss, but passed away before making any commitment, by which time Alan Bond had announced his intentions to take on the mantle of Australian challenger. Bond's syndicate acquired the two GRETEL yachts which were used for crew training. GRETEL II went back to Rhode Island as part of the team but only acted as a sparring partner. After the unsuccessful challenge it came back to WA and was later sold in 1976 to Sydney engineer and yachtsman Gordon Ingate.

    GRETEL II returned to Australia and the syndicate plans to build a new design did not eventuate. GRETEL II continued to sail on Sydney Harbour and raced in the 12 metre World Championships in WA in 1986. In 1987, it was donated to the Sydney Heritage Fleet, in full sailing condition, and for a period they were able to use it as an operational vessel. However the demands of maintaining its customized fittings and parts of the structure that was not expected to be in use after 20 years eventually caught up with the boat and it was withdrawn from sailing.

    In 2008 it was sent to New Zealand for a major rebuilding project so that it could be raced again. GRETEL II continues to sail to this day, a testament to the bygone era of the 12-metre class yacht.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: HALF BLOCK MODEL OF "GRETEL II"

    Web title: Half hull model of 12-metre yacht GRETEL II

    Related People
    Model Maker: Frank Allen

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