|SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-(2-12-2006) Following a ten and a half month restoration involving up to 12 shipwrights working at one time and 15,500 man hours, Maluka, the oldest and smallest boat contesting the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart was today launched at Woolwich Dock, Sydney.
The 7.1 tonne, 9.1 metre gaff-rigged Ranger has been brought back to her former glory as part of “an extreme boat building challenge” says owner Sean Langman who oversaw the restoration at his Woolwich boatyard. Coincidentally there is only a week’s difference in the time it took to build the original Maluka back in the 1930s and the time it has taken Langman and his team to re-build the boat.
Being a timber boat with a heavy Australian red cedar and Huon pine interior, Maluka weighs only 500 kilos less than owner Langman’s better known modified Open 66 Xena, which is 36 feet longer. Even the bow sprit weighs too much to be carried and therefore has to be craned onto the “heavy little brute” as Langman affectionately calls his floating antique.
Extra structure has been added to satisfy entry requirements but the interior as well as the exterior is almost an exact replica of the original built in 1932 for Sydney brothers George and William Clarke. Only the timber floor has been lowered slightly to allow the crew to stand up inside with these boards recycled and used to build furniture for the boat.
Maluka has to complete her entry requirements, including an offshore overnight qualifying passage, before joining the 83 strong fleet for the Boxing Day start of the bluewater classic at 1.00pm on Tuesday December 26. Langman plans to complete this requirement on the evening of Friday 8 December.
In terms of performance, Langman thinks the boat will surprise a few people, comparing it to the speeds achieved by an S & S 36. He’s optimistic they won’t be taking the wooden spoon award away from the Canberra entry Gillawa, which has finished last in the fleet for two years running, and is hoping to complete the 628 nautical mile passage by New Year’s Eve.
Langman’s Rolex Sydney Hobart mixed crew of five joined him for the traditional pouring of the champagne over the bow, as did everyone involved in the historic project including the many apprentice shipwrights who learnt boat building techniques of a by-gone era including steam bending frames and copper roving.
So has it all been worth it? According to Sean this project gave him the heart to enter another Rolex Sydney Hobart.
“I’m glad I’ve gone back to ‘sailing’ sailing,” said Langman.
“Also having a deadline to meet in order to re-enact the Clark brothers’ successful cruise to Hobart 70 years ago gave me a challenge to get to the start line this year - otherwise it could have been a five year restoration”. - Lisa Ratcliff