It’s a Shaw Thing

Glancing down the ‘design’ column of the Bay of Islands Sailing Week entry list, there are several names that feature heavily. There are the ones you’d expect to see, like Elliott, Ross and Farr. But there’s another name that appears almost as frequently too – Shaw.

With a total of seven entries by the ex-Bay of Islands based designer Rob Shaw, it’s clear these boats have a solid racing pedigree and reputation.

That’s even clearer when you see who owns them – the likes of former ISAF World Sailor of the Year Mike Sanderson, who recently bought Rehab – a Shaw 10.6m that was launched in the Bay of Islands in 2008.

Having previously owned the Shaw 10m Orbit, Mike bought Rehab without even taking her for a sail, based on his past experience of Shaw’s boats.

“I just loved the Orbit,” he says. “It always impressed me how fast it was, but also how well mannered it was. For me that’s a sign of a really nicely drawn boat. It’s possible to make fast boats but sometimes fast boats can be angry boats, and Rob’s boats aren’t angry.”

Mike bought Rehab primarily as a way for his kids to progress from skiffs to keelboat racing. He says he first showed them the likes of the Pied Piper and the Elliott 7.9, but the symmetrical kites and spinnaker poles were completely foreign to them. Rehab, on the other hand, is basically a big skiff – albeit with a cabin to make it a bit more practical.

Mike will be sailing in the Island Racing division at Bay of Islands Sailing Week with a crew that includes two of his children – Millie and Merrick – along with two of their teenage friends.

“We’re very much doing it for the experience as opposed to the result,” he says. “It’s all about making sure we have fun, and we just want to do cool harbour courses around the Bay of Islands.”

Another Shaw keeler was also recently snapped up by ex-RNZYS Commodore Steve Mair. The Shaw 12m previously known as Blink and now – like the Melges 40 it replaces – renamed Clockwork, will be contesting the highly competitive B Division.

But Steve’s acquisition was so recent, he has barely had a chance to take her out for a sail yet.

“I’m frantically trying to figure out what goes where and what’s what,” he says. “We pulled the prod out for the first time yesterday, and the next time will probably be on Tuesday when we’re up there for a little sail.”

Designed for offshore racing with a canting keel and twin daggerboards, the Shaw 12 is a very different proposition to the Melges 40. And having never really sailed the boat, Steve has no idea how he’ll fare against the other well-practised entrants.

“We might be last, we might be ok,” he says. “If we’re not last I’ll be happy!”

Another sailor who’s definitely not going to be happy with last place is Bay of Islands local Chris Hornell, who also recently acquired a Shaw keeler. Deep Throttle, previously based in Kerikeri, has been renamed Blue Dude, which Chris’s daughter and crew Rebecca Gmuer-Hornell says is a throwback to a Young Rocket that Chris built before she was born.

In true Shaw form, Blue Dude is basically a big skiff, with a canting keel. Rebecca describes it as a “really cool little boat” and says she’s “excited to go for a send on it” at Bay of Islands Sailing Week.

“It’s pretty much a sports boat, but it’s a keelboat, if that makes sense,” says Rebecca. “It’s super fun and lights up real easy.”

Having previously owned a TP52, the Shaw 9m which can be sailed with a crew of four makes it easier for Chris to get out racing more often. And the fact that it fits in a container makes racing in Australia a real possibility too.

Aside from Rebecca, Chris will also have Rob Shaw on board for Bay of Islands Sailing Week. Will the designer be his secret weapon? Only the results will tell. One thing is for sure though – anyone sailing a Shaw at Bay of Islands Sailing Week is going to have a whole lot of fun.

Other Shaw designs competing this year are Animal Biscuits, Daisy Duke and Magic Trick in the Sports Boats division, and Deep Purple in the Island Racing division.

Racing at Bay of Islands Sailing Week takes place from Wednesday 24 to Friday 26 January, with Prizegiving on Friday evening at Regatta HQ in Opua. The entry list currently numbers 93, with late entries accepted until the end of Registration at 5pm this Tuesday.

© PIC Coastal Classic / LiveSailDie