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ATHENA in 2013 on relaunching day


Vessel Number: HV000703
Date: 1961
Vessel Dimensions: 9.75 m × 8.15 m × 3.08 m × 1.75 m (32 ft × 26.75 ft × 10.1 ft × 5.75 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
ATHENA is a steel ocean racing yacht built in 1961 in Victoria. The 10 metre vessel is an example of an amateur designed and built craft that demonstrated it was possible to acquire an ocean racing yacht in an economical way. The do-it-yourself approach as against getting something professionally made is not uncommon throughout Australia, and there are a number of yachts and launches that have taken this path as well. They represent an alternative way of achieving what the owner wanted. Sometimes the incentive is to test out an idea or design feature they cannot find in a professionally designed craft. Often, the driving force is the quest for a less costly boat. ATHENA had a number of well thought out design and construction features and came out at significantly reduced cost. It had a successful sailing career including competing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race five times.
DescriptionOwner John Jarrett conceived the idea for ATHENA in the late 1950s. He felt that with attention to detail and keeping to a simple concept a steel hulled yacht could be built that would be significantly less expensive than a new wooden hull, and it would still be competitive and good looking.

He worked closely with the builder Henry Blake and his son George Blake. Henry Blake was former commodore of the Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club and well known for racing his wooden yacht VASHTI. The trio produced an innovative yacht, and many of the details were noted in the following report from The Age, Friday December 22 1961.

“ John Jarrett’s new 32 ft Steel sloop Athena, launched in November uses a type of construction which has cut the cost of a hull for an ocean racer to as little as 800 pounds. This week ATHENA took second place in the Queenscliff to Sydney race and is entered for the Sydney to Hobart, starting Boxing Day).

The great reduction in hull costs- about one third that of wood- has been achieved by laying plate steel in manner that follows its natural unstressed shape. Only four plates are used. To accommodate this a ‘square bilge’ is introduced in the design. However the clean run of the underwater lines will surprise critics of this type of construction in such a craft.

As well as saving on materials, construction time is cut. Athena in fact set a new record of 11 weeks from the time building started until a crane swung her out into the waters of the Yarra.

In Athena the deck and cabin has been built of wood and fibreglass with the idea of further reducing the centre of gravity. However weight has not been a troublesome factor. The unstressed plate has permitted the use of 1/8” thickness, not usually achieved in a steel craft this size. “

John Jarett recalls being told by a passer-by as they launched ATHENA in October 1961 that “it will be all rusted out in 6 months”. The prediction was well off target, it has remained in fine condition for over six decades, and the current owner feels one of the reason is that the frames and stringers do not attached directly to the hull, they are bracketed onto the plate with small gussets and this allows water to drain straight into the bilge where it can be easily removed. It was probably well painted too, an aspect the new owner has kept up using new systems that provide excellent protection. In 1996-1998 he gave the craft a complete overhaul including removing the lead and sandblasting the hull back to bare surfaces before repainting, and repairing the deck and cabin where needed.

It has an extensive racing record, including Sydney to Hobart races in 1961,62,64,65 and 68, three Queenscliff to Sydney races in 61,62 and 68, coming second in 1961 its first race ever, then winning the race the following year. In addition it has sailed many times in a number of regular coastal races that start from Queenscliff. In 1969-70 it was winner of the Dorothy Cup.

The yacht is sloop rigged with a short bowsprit. ATHENA continues to be sailed regularly but not raced and in 2015 it was cruising the Queensland coast.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:wood/fibreglass
Current status:floating
Current status:operational
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:wood/fibreglass
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:steel
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Motor propulsion:inboard
Related materials:news clippings
Rig type:sloop
Sail cloth:synthetic
Spar material:aluminium
Alternate Numbers

Vessel Registration Number: NS685Q

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