A blast from the past

A yacht that is cemented deep within Australian sailing history is about to make a modern mark on the seas.


Photography by Gold Coast City Marina

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Andrew Torte, Graham (Scooter) Eaton, Mike Mclean and (Black) Joe Akacich – infamously known as ‘The Syndicate’, have purchased the historic SY Bumblebee IV.

With the support of Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard (GCCM) they have moved the yacht to the facility to resurrect it, and pay respects to its heritage.

S/Y Bumblebee IV is legendary in Australian yacht racing circles. It was designed by renowned Argentinian Yacht Designer, German Frers, who oversaw its build in 1979 at Kelly & Haugh’s facilities in Mona Vale. SY Bumblebee IV is 79-feet in length, aluminium in construction, and was project managed by the late Graeme (Frizzle) Freeman. John Kahlbetzer commissioned her and took the helm in the yacht’s first attempt at the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, in 1979, in which the then brand-new state of the art example of ocean racing technology took line honours.

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Bumblebee IV has had five owners in the time from its launch, to The Syndicate taking ownership in July. Of the five owners, it was businessman and offshore sailor, Syd Fischer who renamed the yacht Maxi Ragamuffin.

Currently, the name still stands, however, The Syndicate are in the process of reclaiming the yacht’s heritage by officially reinstating its original name. Bumblebee has sailed in numerous Sydney to Hobart races, and has travelled to Newport and Sardinia for the international yacht racing circuit. In 1993, Bumblebee essentially retired from competitive sailing and was stationed in the Whitsunday Islands. There the yacht was used for sailing and tourism charters.

Scooter, from Australian Marine Enterprises (AME), is a long-time tenant of GCCM and a leading Australian yachtsman. He has had a relationship with Bumblebee for many years and that nexus was reignited in 2013 when the yacht underwent an enormous refit with the intention to complete another Sydney Hobart, which she did coming 23rd overall. Scooter remained in contact with the then-owner and when the chance appeared in July 2017, The Syndicate, somewhat spontaneously, leaped at the opportunity.

Presently, Bumblebee is in the keel pit at GCCM preparing for the next chapter.

“We are really excited to support Black, Scooter, Mike and Andrew (from South Pacific Marine Group, also based at GCCM) with their plans,” stated GCCM CEO, Mr Trenton Gay.

“Not only is it a chance to get up close and personal with a slice of Australian yachting royalty, the GCCM team is also keen to get back to what we see as the heart of the Australian boating culture, a little bit of competitive fun, while honing some sailing and seamanship skills at the same time.”

Scooter said “To a certain degree, this plan has been five years in the making for me as I believe the industry needs to get back to some basics of sailing, having fun and just a little bit of healthy competition. So GCCM’s support was timely and very encouraging to the owners as it reinforced we were moving in the right direction.”

Once Bumblebee IV has completed the required works on the hardstand at GCCM, utilising many of the 600 plus onsite contractors as well as the considerable skills of the owners themselves, it will embark on a relaxed racing campaign.

“She is a solid design and build and once we are ready, her life will be limitless,” stated Black Joe.

“That said, we are going to pay tribute to heritage not recreate it. You will see her manned by 20-odd crew and on the start line for the Brisbane to Gladstone, Airlie Beach Race Week, Hamilton Island Race Week and maybe even the Noumea race planned by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

“There will be some friendly rivalry but mostly a lot of laughs and great sailing,” he said.

Aside from being a founding tenant of GCCM, Joe has also completed consecutive and very successful Sydney to Hobart campaigns.

GCCM are sponsoring the yacht and, along with The Syndicate, will use it as a facility to inspire their team and clients to get out on the water, unwind and have some fun.

The next chapter for Bumblebee IV will see it back on the water inspiring a new generation of Australian sailors as well as supporting charities that help those who are unable to have such access to the sea.

gccm.com

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