Boating NZ : FREE TO READ March 2014
vessels being built overseas, particularly in the USA. With typical Kiwi pragmatism he phoned a few of these US companies – the leaders in their game. He was interested in building fibreglass boats and asked if he might, you know, come over and take a look to see how they did things? In the modern age of global marketing and international competitiveness, it’s hard to see this happening, but the Americans were delighted and invited him over: “Sure thang – y’all come over now and take a look.” Marks spent two weeks in the US, mainly with Larson Boats, and returned to New Zealand armed with plenty of ideas. A steady stream of fibreglass boats, including large launches, emerged from his shop, and Marksply inevitably captured the market’s attention. In 1982 Marks sold the business to Martin Jones, who dropped the “s” and changed the name to Markline. Its 900 and 1100 launches went on to become two of New Zealand’s most popular family cruisers. That pioneering experimentation with fibreglass and an innate inventiveness stood Marks in good stead. Even in his retirement, at the age of 75, he was commissioned to build the Wind Wand sculptures. Designed by artist Len Lye, these 45m-high, kinetic sculptures are composite fibreglass and carbon fibre creations. They weigh about 900kg and, with a diameter of 200mm, are strong enough to stand upright – but flexible enough to gently bend and sway in the breeze. One is mounted on New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway; another, at Alan Gibbs’ art farm at Kaipara. Now that Marks has had his cataract operations and can see properly again, he is still designing boats the old-fashioned way; he doesn’t know how to turn on a computer. SARA POORE “For me, Scintilla is not only a treasured memory of my father but also represents a small time-capsule of New Zealand’s maritime history. I think it’s important to preserve these vessels, and when I discovered that Dave lived nearby I thought it would be neat to reunite him with Scintilla. I didn’t realise she was the first boat he ever built.” DAVE MARKS “Scintilla has changed very little over the decades. Where her hull was entirely varnished, she now has blue sides. But all the fittings and the spars are the originals that I hand-crafted nearly 70 years ago.” While Sara’s dad swapped the gunter for a Marconi rig, he kept the former. “Remarkably,” says Marks, “her sails are the Japara Cotton originals I bought from Westhaven’s Sail and Covers Ltd for the boat’s launching. I’m flabbergasted that she’s still around – and in such good nick. Must’ve been a bloody good builder.” Scintilla? “I saw the word somewhere. Didn’t have a clue what it meant or if it was even a real word, but I liked it.” Dictionaries define a scintilla as a “minute amount, a small trace, an iota”. But it also has a secondary meaning which is perhaps more apt: “a spark, a flash”. Scintilla certainly sparked Marks’s career, and the X-Class was definitely a spark that helped to ignite New Zealand’s fledging racing industry. Builder and boat were reunited in an emotional but satisfying meeting on Buckland’s Beach on a windy day in October. Were it not for his cataract operation, says Marks, he’d have been keen to take her out again and see how she’d respond to a firm hand on the tiller. And then, just when everyone thought the circle had closed, Fate had one more card to play. When Marks did his apprenticeship, Shipbuilders Ltd was located in Poore Street. You won’t find it on the map; it was renamed Westhaven Drive, and remains so. The original name was an honour bestowed on Vice-Admiral Richard Poore, the commander of the Australian fleet who visited here in 1908 on his vessel HMS Powerful. And yes, you’ve guessed – the genealogy records show the vice- admiral is one of Sara’s distant, great uncles. Designed in 1918 by Gladwyn Bailey, son of Chas Bailey Jnr, the one-design became popular quickly. The class’ real significance is its role in the establishment of one of New Zealand’s oldest sailing trophies, the Sanders Cup. The following extract, penned by Gordon Douglas, is from the June 1986 copy of the Traditional Boats newsletter: “...it was not onIy in Auckland that the little boats had made an impression. A number were sailing on the Otago Harbour and a local yacht club challenged Auckland to race. The challenge coincided with the presentation of a sterling silver trophy for inter-provincial competition in the X-Class. It was named the Sanders Memorial Cup to honour Lt-Commander W E Sanders, VC, DSO, RNR, a New Zealander who had shown great skill and courage in command of the Q-ship Prize during WWl. “The inaugural Sanders Cup series was sailed in Auckland in March 1921, with just Auckland and Otago taking part. Otago was represented by W J P McCulloch’s Heather which beat Lord Jellicoe’s Iron Duke, three races to two.” The X-Class 14-footers The late Phillip Poore loved the X-Class Scintilla so much he went to his grave in a coffin comissioned to look like her and named Coffintilla. 92 Boating New Zealand March 2014 feature_Scintilla_old friends_Feb14.indd 92 18/02/2014 5:48:04 p.m.
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