The Elliott 10.5-meter Squealer comfortably resting back in her slip in Tauranga,
New Zealand after a challenging yet very rewarding delivery from Fiji.
Cool boat, good people, great adventure, nice couple of places. Stoked!
I rolled up my mat after some 8 am yoga and headed over to the coffee shack for a flat white. The air was warm, the conditions were calm and the surf was forecast to be up. A good start to another beautiful day in Fiji. As I walked back to my kayak to paddle back out to MONGO, two young boys chased each other around the dock in an endless display of youth and energy. “Life must never be boring”, I said to the woman walking next to me. She laughed in reply, sparking a conversation in which she casually mentioned that her family needs their 35-foot race boat delivered back to New Zealand.
“I deliver boats”, I replied in a knee-jerk reaction with no thought applied before speaking. In a matter of minutes, i’m down below with the woman and her husband going over the boat. After dismasting while leading the Auckland to Fiji race overall in 2013, she got a brand-new carbon fiber mast, and in 2011 was the benefactor of a massive re-fit overseen by designer Greg Elliott himself. The lime green boat with the big black rig was undeniably cool and seemed, to me at least, to be inherently seaworthy. We talked business.
The Elliott 10.5-meter Squealer had just finished fourth overall in the Auckland to Fiji race, nipping the J/111 Django over the line by an incredible 10 seconds after a week and 1,400 miles of racing. I had read the story months before on Sailing Anarchy. The story I hadn’t heard however, as a result of being at sea while en route to Fiji, was that Django was abandoned in very severe weather on the way home to New Zealand when her rudder shaft failed, leaving the rudder and half it’s post to begin ripping a hole in the bottom. The entire crew was rescued at sea. The delivery skipper that the boat owners had previously arranged backed out and they were in a bind.
“After telling me the story of your boat dismasting in Fiji and then your closest competitors likely sinking on the way home to New Zealand and being rescued at sea, you’re now asking me to deliver your 35-foot tiller boat with no dodger and a 20-year old tiller pilot back to New Zealand in what is admittedly pretty early in the season?”, I asked. “Yeah pretty much”, the man replied.