Oldest Vessel Named for Churchill

Oldest Vessel Named for Churchill

The 15-meter sloop Win­ston Churchill is one of sev­er­al Churchill name­sake ves­sels to have car­ried an hero­ic crew. The ven­er­a­ble sail­boat, the old­est ves­sel named for Sir Win­ston, sank dur­ing the chal­leng­ing Syd­ney to Hobart Yacht Race in 1998, and three of her crew, James Lawler, Michael Ban­nis­ter and John Dean, drowned. The hero­ism of her crew match­es that of the USS Win­ston S. Churchill, the most famous bear­er of the name afloat.

The sto­ry of their sur­vival, writes Paul Kali­na in the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, is part of a new film by Gra­ham McNe­ice on Aus­tralians who defied nar­row brush­es with death. The pro­gram aired Jan­u­ary 5th on Australia’s Fox­tel Bio Chan­nel.

Orig­i­nal­ly a yawl, Win­ston Churchill was built of huon pine by Per­cy Coverdale of Hobart, Tas­ma­nia in 1942. Restored at the cost of A$360,000 by Richard Win­ning, she was sloop-rigged with a new alu­minum main­mast. Mr. Win­ning was not inter­est­ed in win­ning: he sailed for “a bit of recreation–gentleman’s ocean rac­ing,” when he began enter­ing the Churchill in races. We cov­ered his effort in Finest Hour under the title, “We’re Only Here for the Beer.”


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