1951 Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race TV1 tonight

The Peninsula Cruising Club’s Canterbury centennial race from Wellington to Lyttelton is the subject of Descent from Disaster, on TV1 at 8:30 this evening.

Only one of the 20 starters finished the race and two yachts, Argo and Husky, were lost with all their crew.

Another race entrant, Astral, was dismasted. A trawler, Tawera, took the yacht in tow but as the weather worsened the tow rope chafed through.

My father was one of the crew on the Caplin. A newspaper report in his journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

A newspaper report in Dad’s journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

“Astral was carrying a light and all we could do was to stand by alongside her and keep her in view. This was a tremendous task as it was blowing a full gale and a light was only visible when she topped the seas. My crew were tried to their utmost that night and did a wonderful job i n trying to keep the Astral in sight. Visibility was very bad. We only picked up land once after leaving Lyttelton.

“About midnight on Friday the crew of the Astral signalled us to put oil on the water. We did as requested until daylight when we started to take the crew off by means of a line dragging each member through the water. Luckily the rescue was carried out successfully. I felt proud of my crew. The rescue was carried out at the height of the gale. . . “

 I posted on the race on its anniversary. Several people with memories of it or connections to it left comments.

4 Responses to 1951 Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race TV1 tonight

  1. Captain Fantastic says:

    Hey, is this the same Mr. George Brassell that Brassell Point is named after at Deep Cove? Also, there is maybe a couple of paintings in the school hostel at Deep Cove by George Brassell. One I think is of the Wanganella moored at D.C., another a D.C. scene. One at least donated by the Hutchins family who founded Fiordland travel aka Real Journey’s.
    I am sure that this is the same man ? Any thoughts anyone?


  2. Captain Fantastic says:

    Might have put an extra “s” in Brasell.


  3. Quintin Hogg says:

    An excellent program.
    My late father was of the same generation of the Christchurch sailors who participated in the race and I think he knew George Brassell as he told stories about him when minded to do so.
    As a reasonably senior race officer in a major yacht club what astonished me was the laissez faire attitude to the weather forcast that advised of a storm warning. I am surprised that the organising authority didn’t get prosecuted for their actions.
    I know that if I get a forcast that contains a storm warning for an event I run serious discussions are had with the organising authority about delaying the start till conditions improve or the storm blows through. And I have done that too.
    If we were to start a race in those conditions with subsequent loss of life these days then I as a race officer would be prosecuted.


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