A brief history of Celeste

Sixty five years ago this October, Joyce Jordan took aim and swung a bottle of bubbly at the bows of Celeste. The shower of glass and Champagne made sure the boat was well and truly christened. Celeste, now all those sixty five years later, is about to enter her twenty third season of racing with the current owner at Sydney Amateur Sailing Club. This season we will probably take less arduous path of Sunday racing with maybe a casual foray into the Saturday Classics.

Celeste has always raced, one of the early photos show Alan Jordan, the first owner, collecting the silver ware for winning the Adelaide to Port Lincoln and the Holdfast Bay race. Alan, an engineer, built the boat in his backyard at Henty, South Australia. Being an engineer he built the boat to last out of the best material available. The hull is framed in Monel, the keel is held with Monel bolts and the rig is supported on Monel chain-plates with the load carried through to the mast step, again made from Monel. Monel, by the way is 80% nickel and costs a fortune and never corrodes. The planking is all full length Queensland White Beech. The sensuous lines of Celeste were the product of Knud Reimers, a Danish navel architect renowned for his metre boats and small double ended fast cruisers. Celeste below the water is very much a 30 square and above has the sea-keeping lines of a large Tumlaren.

Alan kept and raced Celeste up to the late sixties. He raced in summer and in winter, when the westerly’s blow, he took the yacht back to his shed she was built in to varnish the topsides and antifoul the bottom. The advent of a new and bigger Celeste III saw Celeste II pass through a number of owners till Simon Fraser brought it and trucked it to Sydney in 1993. The present owner acquired Celeste two years later.

Celeste by 1995 needed a complete refit, out came the masthead rig of the seventies to be replaced with a double spreader fractional and diamonds rig more in keeping with its original design. The very unreliable Drofin diesel made way for a 2GM Yanmar. The wiring was replaced and B & G instruments were fitted.  For the next twenty one years Celeste raced with Sydney Amateurs and each of those twenty one years was placed in the relevant divisional point score. The last year has been refit time, the topsides are now black, below the water the old antifoul has been removed and the super smooth hull has returned, the shaft log has been replaced and a feathering prop has replaced the folding one. The rig is recently overhauled and the sails are all excellent. Bring on the new season and long live Celeste.

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