The following information was provided by David M. regarding his yacht Akala:
She is an Arthur Robb design, built in Sydney, launched in 1963. LOA is 37′ with LWL 25′ and she was Robb’s Princess class, which I think was less common than the slightly shorter Lion class. The beam is 9’7″, draft 5’7″ and there is external lead ballast attached to the keel weighing 5500lbs.
David is pictured at the helm in the yellow hat
Robb’s specifications stated “None but experienced and skilled yacht building craftsmen are to be employed in the building and completing of the yacht and any part or item not executed to the required high yacht standard shall without extra charge be removed and made good or remade.” Obviously he had suspicions about Sydney yacht builders. (Perhaps he would not be so suspicious today!) Robb was a New Zealander, but at the time of designing Akala he had moved to London and worked from his office under the name Arthur C Robb, Yacht Architect, 39 Vandon Court, Petty France, Westminster, London.
A few years ago I was in Westminster and walked down Vandon Court to number 39 and simply enjoyed the proximity to Robb, separated by nothing other than time, and still linked through Akala.
As far as I know, she was owned by John Bleakley through the 1960s. John went on to become the Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in 1972. Akala entered and completed most of the Sydney Hobart races from 1963 through 1970. I still have the log book from some of those races. You can see her results on the official website from those years.
Sometime in 1970s she moved to Port Phillip and was on the RBYC register. In 1990 my father bought her and moved her to Portland Yacht Club. Since 2003 she has been back in Port Phillip under my care. She has been on the RMYS register since 2003. She participated in one of the Adelaide Port Lincoln races in the mid 90s. She has done the Melbourne Portland trip several times, but none since 2003. In 1994 or thereabouts, she hit a reef off Apollo Bay and spent a long time in the care of a Williamstown yacht builder repairing her broken ribs.
This year I have just installed a new Yanmar 30hp engine to replace the old Volvo Penta that had gradually come to the realisation that its time at sea was not probably over, but definitely over. It had really struggled in its last years and the strength of the new Yanmar and new Gori prop is amazing in comparison. A long keeled heavy displacement boat is not easy to push around in a seaway and as marinas become more and more confined, the new engine is a real blessing.
I have been racing her in the Classic Yacht Association of Australia Victorian division. The Victorian division is incredibly well run and supported by a large fleet. I’m sure you would know some of the famous yachts that race here. But in the last two years, maintenance has kept me out of the races so casual sailing has been the way.
Thanks David for providing us with this story about your yacht Akala.
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