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Kialoa crew in Metung this week

by Jeanette Severs 16 Feb 2023 14:12 GMT
Kialoa II, after winning in 1971, returned to contest the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1972 © Carlo Borlenghi

They've sailed the Sydney to Hobart race multiple times along with a host of other ocean races, crewing on the Kialoa series of yachts. Now those sailing crews are visiting Metung, on the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria (Australia), this week.

Some are fresh from the Hobart Wooden Boat Festival (in Tasmania), and today sailed Van Diemen - another ocean racing yacht - from Tasmania to tie up at the wharf in Metung.

The crews hold a bi-annual gathering and this is the first time it's occurred in Australia and the second time in the southern hemisphere - it has been held in New Zealand.

Their visit is due to the tenacity of Steve and Wendy Bull, who both grew up in Metung and now divide their time between the lakeside village and Melbourne. The pair are well travelled, supporting Mr Bull's career racing yachts around the world.

Steve Bull was a crew member on Kialoa III and Kailoa IV, competing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in the 1970s. In 1975, he was a member of the crew that set a Sydney to Hobart course record which stood for 21 years.

The late Jim Kilroy commissioned, owned and raced all the Kialoa yachts. The Kialoa is a Sparkman and Stephens design for a string of 78 foot long canoe maxi yachts that dominated ocean racing in the time of Jim Kilroy. Kialoa II continues to do so under the steerage of Robbie Broughton, who has restored it for ocean racing.

Steve Bull has also been on Kialoa as crew to race in the Fastnet Race around Fastnet Rock (in the United Kingdom), the San Francisco Big Boat Series (USA), the Southern Ocean Racing Conference which is a week of competition where many new yachts are tested in oceanic racing conditions, the Round the State race at Hawaii, the 635-mile Newport to Bermuda sailing race, and Hamilton Island Race Week.

Other crew members have added the America's Cup and Antigua Sailing Regatta, competing on other yachts, to their trophy lists.

Many of the crew, like Mr Bull, are employed in the industry, as sail makers, yacht designers, engineers, timber craftsmen, yacht manufacturers, in marine brokerage and as skippers.

Van Diemen, owned by Robbie Vaughan, arrived in Metung this afternoon, along with crewmen Charles Blundell and Neil Harvey. Van Diemen is constructed from Alaskan yellow and western red cedar and was launched in 2005.

Van Diemen has also raced at Hamilton Island Race Week, the Newport Bermuda Race, Fastnet Race and in the Sydney to Hobart Race.

Charles Blundell, also known as Chas from Tas, has lived his life as a professional sailor and boat delivery skipper. He has enough stories to overflow a yard arm.

He's been swept of a fishing boat into a mid-winter sea off the east coast of Tasmania, shot at by pirates off Vietnam, was on a Chinese junk when it was caught in a typhoon, and in the 1985 Fastnet he was on a yacht called Drum that lost its keel and went belly up.

As well as sailing on the Gippsland Lakes this weekend, about 30 members of the Kialoa crew fraternity will join members of the Metung Yacht Club for dinner on Friday night.

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