Boating NZ : FREE TO READ April 2014
subscribe online at www.mags4gifts.co.nz/boating-nz 79 V’s restoration was pretty bodgy compared to the sort of work I do nowadays, that project stimulated my passion for restoring classic yachts,” he says. He owned Asti V for five years. Brookes went out on his own as a traditional boat restorer in 1989. His first projects were partial restorations of two more International Six-metre yachts: the William Fife-designed Piccolo and the Olin Stephens-designed Nancy, both built in 1932 during the heyday of six-metre yacht racing. His next major job was the restoration of the West Solent One Design (WSOD) Mischief. H G May of the Berthon Boat Company had designed the WSOD as a low-budget cruiser/racer in 1924 and Berthon built about 30 of them. By 1990 most had been converted into cruisers and were in varying states of disrepair. Some of that could be traced to short cuts in their original construction, specifically the use of wrought-iron floors and fastenings and a weak scarf joint under the maststep. Brookes carried out a major restoration on Mischief, splining her planking, replacing the wrought-iron floors with oak and returning the boat to her original configuration. When relaunched, Mischief created renewed interest in the WSOD as a class and other owners asked Brookes to restore their yachts. Over the next seven years Brookes restored eight of them, including one for himself, Linette. Most required major surgery, often needing to be taken back to a bare, empty hull. His skills and reputation grew with each project, and he became synonymous with the WSOD. By 1998 Brookes’ life revolved almost totally around the WSOD fleet. Besides restoring them, he was responsible for the winter storage and maintenance of the fleet of eight, and it was all becoming too much. “I felt I’d achieved what I’d set out to do, which was to get a fleet of WSOD racing, but I felt burnt out,” he says. The birth of daughter Sara in 1998 was the catalyst for a change in lifestyle. While visiting Colin in New Zealand in early 1999, the Brookes decided their daughter’s quality of life was more important than working seven days a week on WSODs, so they wound up their UK business, sold their house and moved to New Zealand later that year. Brookes wanted a break from restoring boats, so initially he worked as a builder. However, John and Sandra Gorter soon had him helping with the restoration of their Arch Logan-designed Iorangi, which exposed Brookes to the newly founded Classic Yacht Association (CYA). He was fascinated with New Zealand’s classic yachts and bought the Logan-designed Ladye Wilma which had been in storage for many years. But, before he could start on her restoration, he was contracted to restore the 30-square-metre class yacht Vivi which was shipped here from the UK. Following this project, one of Brookes former WSOD clients approached him to design and build a traditional 15.4m pilot cutter. These traditional engineless boats were used off the Welsh and English coasts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to provide pilots for square-rigged sailing ships. Seaworthiness, speed and an ability to be sailed shorthanded were essential. Building a 30-ton pilot cutter is a mammoth undertaking, let alone doing it single-handed. The Brookes’ Kumeu boatbuilding shed wasn’t big enough, so the couple bought a lifestyle block at Waimauku where Brookes erected a 300m2 shed he’d bought secondhand on TradeMe. Counting its lean-to additions, the shed Peter Brookes racing the WSOD Natica. Peter Brookes with his daughter Sara, his WSOD Linette and trophies, 2000. A fleet of Winklebrigs waiting for the wind. REGULAR_Retros & Classics_April14.indd 79 18/03/2014 4:21:10 p.m.
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