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.”