“There was a birds’ nest in the galley when I went to see it.”
At the 2014 Rolex Sydney to Hobart the Komatsu Azzurro became the media darling of the event, leaving the maxis in her small but neat shadow. It’s hard to believe that only a few months before she was a 33 year old wreck on the verge of sinking.
Kearns was unable to dismiss the classic and evocative Olin Stephens lines, bought the boat on his credit card for $23K and kicked off a major resurrection project, restoring pride and respect to this feisty little S&S 34.
“I was looking for a racing S&S 34 and flew up to Mooloolaba after they sent me some very skilful photos,” laughs proud owner Shane Kearns.
Now with her rich blue hull, sparkling white deck and faultless stainless steel fittings she’s a sight to behold and a serious contender in races across the country.
The path to Rolex Sydney to Hobart
The restoration is now legendary. Not so well known is the story behind the formation of the crew for the 2014 Hobart.
Shane was attending the funeral of his old friend and sailing companion John Walker . The crew from John’s beloved Impeccable were all there swapping stories about the gentle old man who was so deeply loved by the whole Australian yachting community.
“I mentioned I had this boat and was doing the Hobart,” Shane says. “No-one said anything, we all just started looking at each other until Michael Doherty said ‘how many crew do you need?’ I said the boat was the same size as Impeccable…
“Later I told (my wife) Lorraine that the funeral was sad but the good news is I got a crew.
“Our secret weapon is we’ll have John sailing with us, because we all have our memories of him: John would say this, would tell us to do that.
“John never did much of the sailing; he’d sit and tell stories and navigate. Sometimes we’d get him to steer but you had to give him plenty of notice to tack. He’ll be our seventh man.”
With a great crew from the late John Walker’s Petersen 34 Impeccable this boat was ready to go hard!
With the restoration still underway the day before the 2014 S2HYR, she made a spectacular debut leading in all handicap divisons for around two days, before finishing 3rd in her division and setting a new S2HYR S&S 34 race record of under four days for the race.
In July 2015, Azzurro continued to improve and impress by winning the Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race in both IRC and ORCI overall.
Azzurro had a great race in the 2015 S2HYR finishing 3rd overall in IRC and winning both ORCI overall and the Corinthian division, as well as 2nd in her IRC division and first in her ORCI division.
Now sponsored by multinational Komatsu, Azzurro won divisions won both her IRC and ORCI divisions in the slowest Sydney to Gold Coast yacht race in memory.
For the second time in three years the ‘giant slayer’ Komatsu Azzurro powered to overall victory in the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. Finishing the 2017 event in a corrected time of 3 days 1 hour 40 mins 25 seconds, 2 hours 36 mins and 23 seconds ahead of Ian Creak’s Beneteau 47.7 Ausreo in second.
In June, Komatsu Azzurro competed in the Sydney to Noumea Yacht Race and placed 3rd in division.
In mid-June we placed 1st in division in the Groupama Yacht Race (one lap of New Caledonia).
Then in July, Komatsu Azzurro won ORC overall in the Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race and 1st in division in both IRC and ORCI class.
With her sights set firmly on winning this year’s Hobart race, Komatsu Azzurro will continue to be “the little boat that could!”
Boat Name: KOMATSU AZZURRO
Launch Year: 1981
Design: S & S 34
Hull Material: GRP
Hull Colour: Flag Blue
2017 IRC Rating: 0.929
IRC Cert and IRC Date: 5876 10/7/2017
Born in 1980
After the hull was built in Perth by Swarbricks, the hull was shipped to southern yacht spars in Melbourne to be fitted out by David Gough. “These photos show the boat leaving the factory at Tarnard Drive Braeside, and one attaching the keel at SYC yard prior to launch,” said David. “The deck must have been off the Seaulater/Black Magic mould, 2 Dubois 40 footers I built around then. The boat was modified to take advantage of any changes that could be made under the IOR rule without affecting the age allowance. The rudder post is further aft, and the engine installation is different to most.”
The original owners were Ron Langman and Doug Russell, Ron was CEO of Containers Ltd and Commodore of the ORCV. They named her Evergreen and registered her on 28 November 1980.
1983 – 2013
Owner Former Commodore of Sandringham Yacht Club Ron White. Boat name Shenandoah 11
Azzurro was raced with extreme success in the mid 80s and early 90s by Ron White and his family out of Sandringham Yacht Club, when the boat was called Shenandoah 2.
Among their numerous successes was a divisional win in the 1994 S2HYR.
Find out more about our boat the S&S 34 »