Wooden Boat Festival - Vanity returns to Hobart in her 100th year

MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2011.

The Tasmanian One Design yacht Vanity, built in Hobart in 1911, has returned to sail on the River Derwent in her centenary year and be one of the major attractions at the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.


Vanity, which has been lovingly restored in Queensland by her current owner, now Hobart-based Robert Virtue, is moored in her new berth at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Sandy Bay.

From February 12-14 she will on public display at the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart’s Sullivan Cove, along with other stunning feature vessels, including Gretel II, Princess Iluka, Tacoma, Hurrica V and the Yaizu Horocho boat.

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For owner Virtue, a hydrogeologist with a passion for old wooden boats, this is the end of a five year restoration of Vanity, one of seven wooden Tasmanian One Design class yacht built in Tasmania between 1910 and 1912. Two others were built in New Zealand in 1914 and one was built in Bombay, India, some time before 1916.

Remarkably, all seven of the One Designers built in Tasmania, six in Hobart by Charles Lucas and one in Launceston by E A Jack, are still afloat.

The first to be launched, Weene, last week raced in the Classic Yachts division of the 175th Australia Day Regatta on Sydney Harbour.

The Tasmanian One Design class was based on plans published in the USA magazine The Rudder in 1910 for a ‘knockabout’ yacht designed by William Hand Jr.

Hobart naval architect Arthur Blore modified Hand’s design to suit local sailing conditions, and by 1910 had persuaded several prominent yachtsmen to build these identical boats, for the sum of about £200.

They became known simply as ‘One Designers’, and they went on to dominate racing on the River Derwent until the late 1920s.

Vanity was the fourth One Designer launched, on November 3, 1911, for W F Darling, G S Crisp and Dr E J Ireland, who races her successfully for several seasons, including three times placing second (to other One Designers, Pandora, Curlew and Weene) in the 89 nautical mile Bruny Island Race and winning the North v South Cup on the Tamar River at Launceston – after being taken there by train.’’

Several Tasmanian One Designers were lengthened in the 1930s to make them more competitive against the new and larger A class yachts racing in Hobart.

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Vanity was extended from 32ft 8in (9.96m) to 40ft (12.0m) under the direction of naval architect Blore and continued racing with success, including winning the RYCT’s Dewar Shield Challenge four times in the 1930s. She was still racing on the Derwent in the 1970s.

Sold to a Sydney owner, Vanity fell into disrepair over the next 15 years and when Virtue bought her on E-bay in 2005 'for the price of the lead in her keel', she was 'held together by the algae in the water at Pittwater' and headed for the tip.

Virtue then set about a five year restoration program in Brisbane, aimed at bringing her back home to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Hobart.

'The Huon pine planking was still good, but the deck, the deck beams and ribs in the hull had just about disintegrated,' Virtue said today. 'Her original gaff rig had gone, too.'

The Tasmanian One Designer Vanity has been re-born as a magnificent looking gaff-rigged cutter, rearing to go sailing again on the River Derwent for the first time in about 25 years and almost one hundred years since she first ‘took the water’ in Hobart.

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