On the 40th anniversary of Australia’s 1979 Admiral’s Cup victory, the standout yacht in that three-boat team is being offered for sale on a local internet auction site for just $7,500 ($5,000US).
Police Car, the Ed Dubois-designed 42-footer that revolutionized IOR thinking, is languishing at Port Macquarie in northern NSW mid-way through an abandoned restoration. It is a sad low-point in the life of a yacht that, in its prime, set the standard for offshore racing, much as Imp had done two years before.
Commissioned by the chain-smoking West Australian businessman Peter Cantwell, Police Car was the design that brought the young Ed Dubois to international prominence. A fractional sloop with low freeboard, extreme aft sections, tall rig and ‘ratings bumps’ below the waterline, the boat was an unabashed attempt to squeeze every advantage out of the IOR rule.
Dubois, who passed away three years ago, wrote an affectionate account of the design thinking that helped create Police Car for a crew reunion in 2002. “I felt that with the understanding in Australia of more dinghy-inspired rigs that giving a boat a fractional configuration was a good bet. I also gave Police Car less freeboard, marginally less beam and a broader stern than was currently seen on the form boats being produced by Doug Petersen and Ron Holland.
“The risk to this approach was light air speed but I felt that with the extra sail area from the fractional rig this potential risk would be minimal. What I was trying to do was to create an easily driven hull with a full after body but which would not have two high a rated length because of the pronounced kink through the two after girth stations.”
The boat was built in aluminium by Steve Ward in Perth in an incredible eight weeks. After its Admiral’s Cup triumph the ‘The Car’ was bought by Sir James Hardy who campaigned her with great success in offshore events, including four Sydney-Hobart races and the 1982 Clipper Cup in Hawaii (where it was dismasted off Diamond Head but the crew rebuilt the spar, missing just one race in the regatta.)
More than 30 years later this historically significant offshore racer is now looking for someone to bring her back from the brink of extinction. The sales pitch by the current owner is refreshingly honest, saying “There’s plenty to do. This project (and boat) isn’t for the faint-hearted.
“There are plenty of old sails. They’re not great but OK for cruising. There isn’t a whole lot in terms of electronics. The sailing gear (winches etc) are old but good quality. I think anybody who’s sailed the boat will tell you, she’s a whole lot of serious fun on the water!”