Sunday, February 7, 2021

Header Photo: The New Zealand "Zeddie"

Buchanan Collection Auckland Library

The previous header photo was of the New Zealand Z class, affectionately known as the "Zeddie". This photo was part of a collection of New Zealand dinghy photos taken by Arthur Victor Buchanan during the 1950's and put online by the Auckland Libraries. This is Z-27 "Dawn" ripping it under the shy kite; the header photo is a cropped version of id 6D-007 in the Auckland Library collection.

New Zealand yachtig historian, Neil Kennedy, alerted me to the photo archive online at the Auckland Library and tells the story of the Zeddie below.

"Zeddies... this Dawn Z 27. [The] only known sailing reference [to her] was in the 1953 Auckland Anniversary Regatta sailed on the last Monday in January each year (public holiday to celebrate the founding of the Auckland Province) which certainly was the biggest one day regatta in the world of its type. Everyone who had a yacht sailed on that day; for many it was the only race they competed in every season. Dawn was sailed by a J D McKay and crew and was only giving time to the scratch boats (1%) time allowance in the A division Z class fleet...

"The photo is taken off Devonport on the North Shore side of Auckland harbour and she is heading down towards North Head,... broad reaching in 12 to 15kn south westerly, with gusts up to 18 to 20 kts, which are a feature of Auckland Harbour. She has clearly caught one, screaming, hike-out and hang-on rides in these typical Auckland conditions. The road in the background is the Waterfront drive that goes to the Eastern Suburbs. Incidentally setting and gybing the spinnaker, could be pretty exciting in a fresh breeze as once the nose [of a Zeddie] went down they could be a real handful. (Hence the large "splashboards" running back from bow to aft of the side stays, which saved many a crew from a spectacular capsize.)...

"The dimensions of a Zeddie> Length 12ft 6 in., Beam 5ft 0 in., Depth 1ft 4in., Sail area (originally a gunter main) 110sqft, Spin 60 sq ft single luff, spars solid oregon Mast 11ft 3in Gaff 10ft boom 12ft 3in spinnaker pole 9ft 3in , Hull construction planked Kauri or Kahikatea (white pine) seam batten with sawn frames and canvas covered decks. The Zeddie would have been close to 300lbs hull weight at launching, so to get her up and planing like that shows the power of the rig. Crew two, under 19yrs. Yes girls did sail on them in small numbers too at club level. How many were actually built in Auckland is hard to know but sail numbers reached 200 on the Auckland register, and given number reissues (a common practice) and the fact they were sailed all over NZ, a probable estimate is around 500 NZ wide so they were one of the biggest small boat classes in NZ , until the arrival of the Cherub and the NZ Moth ( MK II) .

"While they were adequate to windward, they were essentially a "down-wind" boat and the stories of John Spencer (who started in Zeddies) of slogging for miles to windward just so they could enjoy a wild ride down wind are legendary. This is part of the heritage that made NZ yachties such great downwind heavy weather sailors.

"Note a couple of things: The skipper has no tiller extension, although they started to appear from 53 onwards, so good skippers developed long arms... The hiking straps were made from rubberised machine belts (discarded or 'borrowed" from machinery factories) and were quiet common.(Canvas ones had a tendency to rot and suddenly give way.) At the bow chain plate what looks like a "horn" sticking out is in fact a piece of folded 'hose" designed to catch wayward spinnaker sheets or even spinnaker pole braces from getting under the boat during setting/dousing or gybing, particularly with the single luff spinnakers... There were separate guys (port and starboard) which were shackled to the sidestay at the deck then run through a snaphook at the end of the spinnaker and back to a horn cleat on the deck aft. Some boats just had cleats others had bullseyes in front of the cleat as well. Spinnaker work was deemed a premium skill for a forward hand and the best could set and gybe a spinnaker in 15secs or less. Bailing out excess water was done with a large tin can and shirts, football shorts, lifejackets (sometimes an oilskin jacket) were the standard crew attire all year round... You had to be fit, hard and tough or you soon learnt to be.

The Zeddie was designed in the 1920's; among a group of flattie dinghy designs born of the Great Depression; including, in the U.S.A; Comet, Lightning, Geary 18, the Australian VeeJay, the French 9m2 Sharpie, in New Zealand alongside the Zeddy, the Idle Along. A modern rendition of the Zeddie with Dacron sails and an aluminum mast is shown below. In searching the Net, it looks like the Zeddie was racing a class championship up to the year 2013.

Wikipedia entry for the Zeddie

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