Gretel

One outstanding classic yacht of America’s Cup fame is now available for restoration in our yard. The 12-metre “Gretel” was challenger to the Cup in 1962 and, at the same time, the first Australian 12-metre ever. Designed by Alan Payne, this boat was quicker than the defender, the Philip Rhodes design “Weatherly”. It was in this regatta that the Americans lost a Cup race for the first time since the races between “Endeavour” and “Rainbow” in 1934. This challenge proved to become serious and quite thrilling, but in the end the Americans successfully defended the Cup due to the superior performance of “Weatherly’s” crew and skipper Emil “Bus” Mosbacher. “The wizard” Mosbacher was quite rightly famous as being one of the best helmsmen of his time; 1967 he defended the Cup a second time, now with the 12-metre “Intrepid” against “Dame Pattie” from Australia.

After the America’s Cup regatta of 1962, the fast “Gretel” served as trial horse for several following Cup challenges. Later she was sold to Europe and sailed many years in Italy. It was here that she was found by “Robbe & Berking Classics” and transported to Flensburg Germany, for a complete restoration. “We aim to bring this historic yacht back to the original condition of 1962”, said Oliver Berking, proprietor of the boatyard “Robbe & Berking Classics”. “This is a unique piece of yachting history that must be kept alive!”

About the boat: Length over all 69.4 ft / 21,16 m; beam 11.7 ft / 3,58 m; draft 8.76 ft / 2,67 m; displacement 26,7 tons; sail area 1796.5 sq-ft / 166,9 qm; designed by Alan Payne, built from wood on steel frames.

The America’s Cup challenge of 1962 was well prepared and came very close to being successful. Sir Frank Packer, the Australian publisher, announced his plans for the America’s Cup as early as 1958. He then went on to charter “Vim”, the fastest 12-metre at the time for four years for his crew to train on her. “Vim”, designed by Olin Stephens, had already served as the trial horse for the Cup defender of 1958, “Columbia”. Packer then let his designer Alan Payne do extensive research for the new 12-metre design at the Stevens Institute in New York, where Payne also already used tank testing.

Payne’s 12-metre design was full of new ideas. One significant innovation was the grinder system, where the main winches were linked together and driven by foot pedals. This increased the efficiency when tacking enormously.

The fist Australian 12-metre ever was launched on 19th February 1962, seven months before the Cup races were scheduled. Nine days later, the boat was christened “Gretel” in honour of Frank Packer’s deceased wife. Even the first few test runs against “Vim” suggested that “Gretel” was a very fast boat. In late May, both yachts were shipped to the US where “Gretel” later delivered a hard and worthy fight for the Cup, much closer in fact than the overall results (4-1) may imply. The races were very close, the Australians won once.

In the end, the Americans prevailed once more, due to the superior performance of “Weatherly’s” crew and skipper, Emil “Bus” Mosbacher. He was justifiably regarded as one of the best helmsmen of his time, in 1967 he defended the Cup once more, this time in the 12-metre “Intrepid” against “Dame Pattie” from Australia.


As the Australians clearly had the better boat in 1962, the Americans changed the rules so that all future challengers were barred from American design or built technology.

After the Cup races, “Gretel” served as trial horse for several challenges to come: 1967 for “Dame Pattie” and in 1970 for “Gretel II” which was Frank Packers second challenge. In the end she even sailed in the first “Southern Cross” team in 1975.

From 1973 to 1974 she belonged to “Yanchep Estates Pty. Ltd.“, her home port was given as Perth and Yanchep. In 1975, the “Southern Cross America’s Cup Challenge Association, Ltd.“ owned her, from 1976 to 1979 she belonged once more to the “Gretel Syndicate” and in 1980, she was taken out of Lloyd’s Register. From 1982 to 1994 she worked as a charter yacht in the Whitsundays, later she was sold to Europe where she spent many years in Italy. It was here that she was found by “Robbe & Berking Classics” and transported to Flensburg Germany, for a complete restoration. “We aim to bring this historic yacht back to the original condition of 1962”, said Oliver Berking, proprietor of the boatyard “Robbe & Berking Classics”. “This is a unique piece of yachting history that must be kept alive!”

Alan Payne (1921-1995) was a brilliant naval architect who designed “Gretel” and “Gretel II”. He had studied naval architecture at Sydney Technical College and the University of New South Wales, and in 1945 was the only Australian naval architect to devote all of his business to yacht building, both sail and power. His 55 foot “Solo” won the Sydney Hobart race in 1955. Having created fast lines for numerous racing craft, he set to work on a four year project in which he analysed the lines of “Vim”, America’s best trial horse brought to Australia by Sir Frank Packer. Payne proceeded to test a total of 30 models towards developing “Gretel’s” design. “Gretel” was hugely admired for her superiority in fast downwind sailing. This quality won a race for Australia and nearly a second in a very tight series. In 1970, Payne designed “Gretel II” for Packer and skipper James Hardy. The new design proved to be an even more dangerous challenger. For his tremendous dedication to America’s Cup designs Alan Payne is selected for membership in the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.

Alexander “Jock” Sturrock was born in Melbourne on May 14 in 1915 and died on July 11 in 1997. He was 47 when he steered “Gretel” in the 1962 races. In that year he was Australian of the year, Australian Yachtsman of the year and Australian Sportsperson of the year. In 1975 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to yachting. In 1985, he was elected one of the five inaugural “Legends of Australian Sports” on the establishment of the Sports Australia Hall Of Fame. Jock won over four hundred national and state championship yachting races. He won his first Australian yachting championship in the 12 foot Cadet dinghy “Monsoon” in 1932 at the age of 12. At 18, he helped pioneer the introduction of the International Star Class into Australia, and won the first eight Australian Championships in that class (between 1935 and 1947). He was three time Australian 6-Metre class champion (1946, 1947 and 1949), three time Australian Dragon Class Champion (1953/1954, 1954/1955 and 1955/1956) and two time Australian 5.5-Metre class championship (1956 and 1959). He represented Australia in the Olympic Games 1948 in London (Star Class), 1952 in Helsinki (Dragon Class), 1956 Melbourne (Bronze Medal, 5.5-Metre Class) and 1960 in Rome (5.5-Metre Class). He was the Australian flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Rome Olympic Games.

He achieved international recognition when he skippered Australia’s first challenge for the Americas Cup in 1962. Although defeated 4 to 1 by “Weatherly”, “Gretel’s” victory in the second race was the first by challenger since 1934, and is widely recognised as the first of the events that resurrected the America’s Cup as an international sporting competition. He also skippered “Dame Pattie”, Australia’s second America’s Cup challenger in 1967, which was beaten 4 to 0 by the highly controversial defender “Intrepid”. Later, he represented Australia multiple times as an ocean racing skipper in the Admiral’s Cup and the Kenwood Cup, and managed two successful Australian campaigns for the “Little America’s Cup” (International C-Class Catamaran Challenge). Between 1972 and 1980 he was a member of the Olympic Fund Raising Committee.

Frank Packer (Sir Douglas Frank Hewson Packer, 3.12.1906 - 1.5.1974) was an Australian media proprietor who controlled Australian Consolidated Press and the Nine Network .In 1923, Packer became a cadet journalist on his father’s paper, “The Daily Guardian”. Only four years later he was a director of the company. In 1933 Packer started the Australian “Women’s Weekly” and then transformed “The Daily Telegraph” into one of Australia’s leading newspapers. When television was introduced to Australia in 1956, Packer became a significant television network shareholder. In 1972 Packer sold his newspaper flagship to Rupert Murdoch, a decision he reportedly regretted. Packer was boxer, golfer, polo player and a keen yachtsman.

 
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