The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is one of the most iconic events on the Australian summer sporting calendar. This year the event celebrates its 75th year milestone with up to 100 boats competing over a 1000km course and is yacht race recognised as one of the most challenging yacht races in the world.
This year, we are excited to announce that Black Hops will be part of the event, and our logo will be held aloft and flown in the breeze over the sails of a refurbished vintage yacht race yacht that first sailed in the race nearly 70 years ago!
Earlier this year, we opened a second, larger brewery in the waters of Bigera at the north end of the Gold Coast. The sprawling factory space we yacht race chose was formerly the site of the landmark Riviera Boat Shed. Our landlord, Bill Barry Cotter,
is one of Australia’s most respected luxury yacht builders, having founded the world-renowned yacht building companies Mariner, Riviera and now Maritimo since the 1960s.
Recently Bill contacted us and pitched us an idea. Since we’re all creative guys, Goffs, Eddie and I went along to see what he was thinking. Bill yacht race gave us the background of his proposal and the exact reason he approached us.
As it turns out, Bill is not only a world-renowned boatbuilder, he and his brother Kendall are also very handy sailors, having won the Sydney to Hobart race in 1975 and later winning the C division of that event. This year, Bill and his brother have once
again assembled a team and will return to compete in this iconic race. With the launch of the sail “estate”, Bill wanted to know if we would be yacht race interested in using the Black Hops logo on the spinnaker (spinnaker) as one of the main sponsors.
Bill then proceeded to tell the story of how the boat came into his possession, and the story behind it. As it turns out, back in the 1960s, Bill’s father and some companions found an old sailboat called “Katwinchar” in Hobart and returned it to Sydney.
Many years later, the whereabouts of the Katwinchar remained unknown, and Bill spent more than a decade searching for the ship’s yacht race location, but in vain. It wasn’t until two years ago that a friend of Bill’s stumbled across it in an ad on Gumtree, where it appeared in a widow’s backyard in Newcastle.
Her late husband had begun restoring the boat, so when Bill promised that he would continue to honor its original legacy and restore it yacht race to its former glory, the widow readily agreed to return it to him.
The “Katwinchar” arrived at Bill’s Hope Island Marina on December 12, 2017. Since then, a team of three full-time employees and a series of contractors have spent more than 10,000 hours over the past 18 months bringing the ship back to life.
And that’s where the backstory gets very serendipitous. As it turns out, the original ship was actually built in England in the early 1900s, and then sailed all the way to Australia. But wait,
the story gets even stranger – it was yacht race originally built by the Coopers at the famous Watney Brewery in England! Launched in 1905, the 32-foot Cage was named “Katwin Char” in honor of Watney’s three children, Catherine, Winifred and Charles.
We were shocked to hear the full history of these boats. Given that the boat was originally built in a brewery, Bill thought it was entirely appropriate that his current tenant and brewery owner
be involved in some way in the first revival voyage of the revamped Katwin Chale. Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity.
A few weeks ago, Katwinchar set sail for Sydney in preparation for the race. She will compete in several heats before the start of the 75th annual Sydney to Hobart race on December 26.
Here, she will be commandeered by a yacht race crew of six, including skipper Michael Spies and brothers Bill and Kendall Barry Cotter, to sail from CYC in Rushcutter Bay to Constitution Bay in Hobart.