Boating NZ : FREE TO READ April 2014
78 Boating New Zealand April 2014 Boatbuilder Peter Brookes specialises in restoring and building classic boats. His Waimauku shed contains the full classic spectrum, from dinghies through to a traditional 15.4m pilot cutter. This is his story. RETROS AND CLASSICS JOHN MACFARLANE 78 F rom his accent you might think Peter Brookes is English, but he was born in Auckland in 1963. His father Colin Brookes is from the United Kingdom and met his mother, the late Nanette, while she was working in England as a ballet dancer. Colin and Nanette married and settled in New Zealand, moving back to the UK when Brookes was two. They settled in Heybridge Basin, a small village on the River Blackwater on England’s east coast, where Colin bought a Robert Tucker Silhouette for family cruising while the young Brookes played about in clinker dinghies. The Brookes moved back to New Zealand in 1972 and Colin began building a Richard Hartley 13.1m ferro cement Fijian. They intended sailing the Fijian to the UK but Colin sold the yacht shortly after it was finished, and the Brookes returned to the UK by air. They re-settled in Heybridge Basin. After buying another clinker dinghy, Brookes then restored two traditional small yachts, the 5.48m Thames Estuary One Design Teod followed by the Winkle Brig Wanderer. The Winklebrig is a 4.88m gaff-rigged, shallow draft yacht and Brookes raced his successfully for some years. “I was always passionate about classic boats and in my last year at school I became friendly with local boatbuilder Steve Partridge who offered me an apprenticeship,” he says. Over the next four years Steve gave Brookes an excellent grounding in traditional English boatbuilding. Meantime, Colin had bought Hartley’s plan business, selling boat plans to home builders, and founded a business building ferro yachts. Brookes finished the last year of his apprenticeship helping his father. Brookes didn’t particularly enjoy working in ferro; he found it hard, repetitive work. However, he kept his hand in after hours with classic boats. He built rowing and sailing dinghies in GRP and restored several Sprite-class dinghies. He raced one with his sister Christine who later came second in the UK trials in the Europe class dinghy for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In 1984, in what turned out to be a career-defining moment, Colin accepted an International Six-metre yacht as deposit on a new ferro yacht. The International Six-metre yacht, originally named Asti V, had been designed by Morgan Giles for the Spanish royal family in 1932 but by 1984 she’d been renamed Saxon, converted into a cruising yacht and fallen into disrepair. Brookes restored the yacht to her original configuration and name and, with a new gaff rig designed by Colin, was soon racing Asti V in local events with his new wife Mary as crew. “Although Asti Photos by Peter Brookes and John Macfarlane Peter The Stor y Brookes Peter Brookes helming the 33.7m classic Moonbeam, CYA Regatta 2000 Racing Asti V in a force 9 gale. REGULAR_Retros & Classics_April14.indd 78 18/03/2014 4:20:33 p.m.
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