It didn’t get in the water, but its presence alone was enough for Aurora to win the top prize at the NZ Antique and Classic Boat Show at Lake Rotoiti over the weekend.
There was perfect weather and an air of celebration for the 20th anniversary of the popular event, with over 130 clinkers, steam launches, classic motorboats and sailing dinghies attracting a record crowd of over three thousand boating fans.
Event director Pete Rainey says the Aurora captured the essence of the boat show as a boat with classic lines and a story to tell.
“Over the past 20 years the Jens Hansen trophy for best vessel overall has gone to all sorts of boats – from perfectly restored craft to real workhorses of the sea,” he says.
Aurora, a 1934 clinker, was built by Martin Monopoly and used to carry explosives from the powder magazine on the Boulder Bank for the construction of Rocks Road.
“Aurora is a great winner for our 20th year and will be familiar to older Nelsonians – when her work as an explosives tender was done she became an excursion boat for trips to Haulashore Island and the Lighthouse and was then handed over to the sea scouts,” says Pete.
Aurora has undergone an extensive restoration after being bought by Nelson man Dave Gallop in 2011.
“When I found her she was in a sorry state in an old shed in Hope but I didn’t even have to get out of the car [to know I wanted it] …this was exactly what I was looking for as a restoration project,” he says.
“Everything was there – I just had to source a motor suited to the period and make a rudder to what I thought would be the original shape from old photos.”
Despite the win, Aurora has yet to get wet since her restoration and was on display only at the weekend. Dave says it isn’t far away from being ready for the water. “I live in Redwood Valley so was out of our house for 15 days because of the fire, that put me behind a little bit and I didn’t want the first time on the water to be here – too many cameras,” he joked.
He says he was shocked by the win.
“I was a bit embarrassed actually because we had a 70th birthday party to attend in Nelson so missed the awards ceremony but I was very surprised.”
Pete says both days over the weekend had seen bigger crowds than usual at the Lake.
“We’ve sailed on through some pretty poor weather in the past without ever cancelling so it was great for us to have two perfect days,” he says.
“There’s no doubt we have a winning formula with displays on the land in the morning and the opportunity to chat to boat owners, then races on the lake in the afternoon.”