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Plum Crazy
Plum Crazy
Plum Crazy

CountryAustralia
Boat TypeHalf Tonner
Sail Number1137
ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
RigBermuda
LOA9.22m, 30.25f
LWL7.69m, 25.25f
Beam3.25m, 10.67f
Draught1.52m, 5f
DisplacementNot known
Year Build1971 (age 47)
WebNone
Owner (s)Steve White
Former OwnersGilbert Thomas
John Howard
Mel Jones
Sponsor Name(s)None
Other Boat NamesMorgan White
The Plum
Designer (s)Bob Miller
Joe Adams
Builder(s)Douglas Brooker
Current CrewSteve White
Former CrewBob Beesley
Colin Beashel
John ("Joe") Hooton
Kevin Shephard
Martin ("Ferdie") Leschkau
Robert Hart
Robert Ogilvie
Roland Bull
Ted Thomas
Emailjghodder@bigpond.net.au
FacebookNone

Plum Crazy

Plum Crazy was built in Sydney in l97l by Douglas Brooker Custom Yachts Gilbert Thomas "Tig" and Max Bowen. Affectionately known as "The Plum", she was launched just l0 days before the Hobart Race, and caused a sensation by leading American J. B. Kilroy's maxi yacht "Kialoa ll" in the race to Sydney Heads. She went on to win division 2 in that race, in what was an auspicious beginning to a distinguished racing career.

"Plum Crazy" currently holds the Sydney-Hobart race record for the fastest yacht less than 9.5m: 4 days,1 hour, 18 minutes and 16 seconds. She has held this record since 1975.

Credit for the design of Plum Crazy is shared by Bob Miller, as he then was, and Joe Adams, two of Australia's most creative naval architects. Adams was a talented assistant to Miller, and probably drew her lines, but perhaps the genius came from Miller. At that time he had also created "Apollo" for Alan Bond and "Gingko" for Gary Bogard. Of course, Bob Miller became Ben Lexcen, and was immortalised in 1983, as the designer of "Australia ll", winner of the America's Cup.

Joe Adams went on to develop the design, creating the Adams 31 based on similar lines, which further established Joe's reputation for fast sea-kindly yachts which continues to this day.

Douglas Brooker is famous for his series of cold moulded timber yachts of strong yet light construction. These were the half-tonners Plum Crazy and Deviance; Hobart winning one-tonner Ceil III; three-quarter tonners Impeccable, Pazazz & Dancing Mouse: the 36ft Baden Design cruising yacht Pericles, Australian champion quarter-tonner Jiminy Cricket and his own design 42ft cruising yacht Touchwood.

Plum Crazy bears testament to the quality of the work achieved by Douglas Brooker's yard. Without exaggeration it may be said that she is unique; a handmade record-setting timber yacht designed by Bob Miller and Joe Adams.

Plum Crazy

Plum was Tig's pride and joy. These are some of the photos and stories from his scrapbook

Pictures of Plum Crazy

Racing

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 1971

Plum Crazy  was completed just 10 days before competing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 1971

Plum Crazy won second division and Division 2B and was 16th out of 79 starters in the 1971 Sydney-Hobart race, the first Hobart for Thomas. "A bit of an easterly was blowing and we put up our brand new reacher. We got a gun start and led the fleet up the harbour for the first 20 minutes.

"Then the breeze kicked around to the north-east and we had to do a sail change, to a number one headsail." Back in those days you had to unhank one sail before the next sail could be hoisted so in the process of changing Plum Crazy lost the lead. But Thomas has always remembered having the line honours winner, American Jim Kilroy's 73ft ketch Kialoa, crossing Plum Crazy's stern halfway up the harbour. "We led the fleet for 20 minutes of glory. And apart from having a line squall off Wollongong, it was pretty much an easy run."

The official Program Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
The official Program Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Sydney to Hobart Race Results 1971
Sydney to Hobart Race Results 1971
Plum Crazy in the 1971 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Plum Crazy in the 1971 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Australian Sea Spray 7th Jan 1972
Australian Sea Spray 7th Jan 1972
Plum Crazy crosses line honors yacht Kialoa II
Plum Crazy crosses line honors yacht Kialoa II
Gilbert Thomas (Tig) Collecting trophy in Hobart
Gilbert Thomas (Tig) Collecting trophy in Hobart
Joe Adams Can take all the credit - Plum Crazy Daily Mirror 19th Jan 1972. By Boy Messenger
Joe Adams Can take all the credit - Plum Crazy Daily Mirror 19th Jan 1972. By Boy Messenger
Wagga Apexian Jan 1972 Modern Boating
Wagga Apexian Jan 1972 Modern Boating
Wagga Apexian Jan 1972
Wagga Apexian Jan 1972
Scouts in Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 1971
Scouts in Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 1971
Plum Crazy winning Crayfish Dervy Triabunna
Plum Crazy winning Crayfish Dervy Triabunna
Plum Crazy Best Small Yacht - Herald 1 Jan 1972
Plum Crazy Best Small Yacht - Herald 1 Jan 1972
Plum Crazy the star yacht by Robert Mundle
Plum Crazy the star yacht by Robert Mundle
Val and Doug Brooker The Mercury 31st Dec 1991
Val and Doug Brooker The Mercury 31st Dec 1991
Hobart Hopefuls - Modern boating Jan 72
Hobart Hopefuls - Modern boating Jan 72
Plum Crazy - Telegraph Ian Mainsbridge 27th Dec 1971
Plum Crazy - Telegraph Ian Mainsbridge 27th Dec 1971
Plum Crazy - Telegraph Ian Mainsbridge 27th Dec 1971
Plum Crazy - Telegraph Ian Mainsbridge 27th Dec 1971
Plum Crazy - Vaious Articles
Plum Crazy - Vaious Articles
Plum Crazy 31st Dec 1971
Plum Crazy 31st Dec 1971

Plum1971/2

Extract from SAILING LEGENDS:TIG THOMAS By Bob Ross: 2 April 2007

www.paintandpanel.com.au/article/831789E0-EE82-11DD-B0B10050568C22C9

Half Tonner racing took off in Sydney over the next few seasons with new one-off designs plus Peter Joubert's Currawong and Peter Cole's East Coast 31 production boats providing affordable, close offshore racing.

Plum Crazy won the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron's Dunhill Trophy Half Ton championship in December 1972, comfortably with three wins, a second and a fourth in the five races, from Jack Savage's self-designed Pajen with Pretender (Peter Willcox), a Cavalier 32 production boat from Auckland, third. Three New Zealand yachts, chosen from selection trials in Auckland, were in the fleet of 14.

The Australian Yachting Federation, on the strength of that showing, endorsed Plum Crazy to represent Australia at the 1973 Half Ton Cup in Denmark. Meantime, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia decided to raise money to send the best Australian Half Tonner crew to Denmark and charter a boat for it there. Seven boats including Plum Crazy entered the selection trials. Plum Crazy won, to collect the CYCA's air fare sponsorship while Thomas elected to ship his own boat to Denmark.

Soon afterwards, Plum Crazy won the 500 mile Sydney-South Solitary Island-Pittwater race, a new event conducted over the Christmas-New Year holiday period and won it again in 1973.

Plum Crazy - Add for Dulux Marine
Plum Crazy - Add for Dulux Marine
Half Tonner
Half Tonner's excite boat builder Offshore Dec 1971
Plum Crazy
Plum Crazy's Test - Daily Mirror 27th Jan 1972
Plum Crazy 31st Dec 1971
Plum Crazy 31st Dec 1971
Various Plum Crazy Dec 1971
Various Plum Crazy Dec 1971
Plum Crazy - The Sun 27th Jan 1972
Plum Crazy - The Sun 27th Jan 1972
Clean Sweep in JOG Challenge - Daily Telegraph 4th Feb 1972
Clean Sweep in JOG Challenge - Daily Telegraph 4th Feb 1972
Millers Madness Plum Crazy
Millers Madness Plum Crazy
First Win no Mere Fluke - Plum Crazy
First Win no Mere Fluke - Plum Crazy
Plum Crazy Modern Boating Feb 1972
Plum Crazy Modern Boating Feb 1972
Plum Crazy Top Half Tonner
Plum Crazy Top Half Tonner
Purple is Beautiful Modern Boating 1972
Purple is Beautiful Modern Boating 1972
Purple is Beautiful Modern Boating 1972
Purple is Beautiful Modern Boating 1972
Yachts Double
Yachts Double

1972 International Half Ton Cup

Dunhill Trophy for international Competition goes to Plum Crazy - Gilbert Thomas (Tig) and Max Bowen. They also won the teams event. His crew for this series was Roland Bull (Sailing Master), Ted Thomas(Navigator), Keven Shephard and Bob Hart.

Extract from SAILING LEGENDS:TIG THOMAS By Bob Ross: 2 April 2007

 www.paintandpanel.com.au/article/831789E0-EE82-11DD-B0B10050568C22C9

She suffered mishaps before the series at Hundested. First, she hit a rock in the dark, while sailing at six knots, in the 150-mile invitation race a week before the series. Then, while being lifted from the water by mobile crane for an examination of the damage, the five-ton crane overbalanced with the boat in mid air.

Plum Crazy plummeted back into the water and the crane jib fell on top of her, crushing the coachhouse. The damage took a long time to repair and Thomas's crew lost five days of valuable tuning and training time.

Frenchman Michel Briand, sailing the Andre Mauric design Impensable won. Plum was tenth. She looked beamier and flatter than most of the other boats and while she was well sailed, she was badly beaten downwind by the more slender and lighter European designs. "We were the heaviest boat there by a long way and that was the difference," Thomas says. "We would have been about 8000lb and the next heaviest would have been around 6000 lb."

Plum Crazy also had problems upwind when the breeze was light and there was a small chop. Thomas felt she lacked the power to punch through it. "She is a beautiful boat in flat water."

1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup
1972 International Half Ton Cup

1972 South Solitary/ Tasman Sea Trophy

Plum Crazy wins the inaugural 1972 South Solitary Island race. This was a race from Sydney to South Solitary Island, back to Pittwater (500nm). Barbarian (Adrian Alle) won on handicap.

In the last photo, Plum Crazy wins 1974 South Solitary Island Race again

Tasman Sea Trophy 1972/3
Tasman Sea Trophy 1972/3
Start of the Inaugural South Solitary Island Race 27 Dec 1972
Start of the Inaugural South Solitary Island Race 27 Dec 1972
1972 South Solitary Island Race
1972 South Solitary Island Race
1972 South Solitary Island Race
1972 South Solitary Island Race
1972 South Solitary Island Race
1972 South Solitary Island Race
Various Articles on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Various Articles on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Article on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Article on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Article on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Article on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Article on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race
Article on the 1972 South Solitary Island Race

1973 South Solitary

1973 South Solitary Island Race
1973 South Solitary Island Race
1973 South Solitary Island Race
1973 South Solitary Island Race

1975 Hobart

Extract from SAILING LEGENDS:TIG THOMAS By Bob Ross: 2 April 2007

www.paintandpanel.com.au/article/831789E0-EE82-11DD-B0B10050568C22C9

Record Hobart

Two of Thomas's crew in Plum Crazy's reborn sailing program, Bob Beesley and Rob Ogilvie, were with him on the 1975 Hobart race. The other crew members were John ("Joe") Hooton and Martin ("Ferdie") Leschkau.

Beesley and Ogilvie sat in on this interview and contributed their recollections of the 1975 record run, before heading out with Thomas on a Thursday twilight.

Conditions were ideal for record breaking in the 1975 Hobart race. The light easterly at the start backed through north-east to north and freshened to 25-30 knots on December 27, the day after the start. This remained until the evening of the 28th when, for a few hours, it shifted to west-northwest at 15-25 knots. Off the Tasmanian coast, it freshened to 40 knots from the north for the leading and mid-fleet boats, giving a frightening ride to Tasman Island with many spinnakers blown out.

Jim Kilroy's new Kialoa III, a 75ft S&S ketch, set a race record of two days 14hr 36min 56sec that was to stand for the next 21 years and the first nine yachts finished inside the old record. Plum Crazy's time was four days 1hr 18min 16sec. Bowen and Thomas donated a half model of Plum Crazy as a perpetual trophy for the first yacht under 9.5m LOA across the finishing line, won in 2006 by Sean Langman's Maluka in the time of 04:14:17:39.

Plum Crazy, in setting her long-standing record, faced 75-knot sou'-westerly from Maria Island, 120 miles from the finish. Even nowadays her crew is still not sure how she did it, although she did cover 197 miles in one 24-hour period.

Thomas says: "At one stage I said I would buy a beer for anyone who had the speedo hit the top of the scale, 12 knots. It looked like being a very expensive offer because the needle stuck there and we must have been doing 15 knots.

"We were flying off every third or fourth wave with the boat so well-drilled, you could take your hand off the tiller. And the waves of that nor'-easter were perfectly formed. From the top of the wave, you could look left and right for a quarter of a mile and see these beautiful regular waves. It was just incredible.

"The bow wave started at the mast and I had to stand up tall to see over the top of it when I was steering.

"We started with the half ounce kite from out of the heads. We were up to about 25 knots apparent when we put the three-quarter up. And at 35 apparent, we put the one-and a-half up.

"Then we were down off the Tassie coast, Beeso was about to take it off. Then I heard a plane overhead so we must have been fairly well down the coast and I said, 'Hold it Beeso, we're going to have our photos taken."

Bob Beesley

Thomas continues: "We then poled out a headsail until we got the 75-knot sou'-westerly off Maria Island. All the big boats had gone around the corner by then."

Ogilvie: "I can't work out how we set a race record when we got 75 knots of headwind."

Beesley: "We were in the lee there, hard on the wind but fairly close in. When we wrapped the kite, the forestay spun around and popped the bottom section off the twin C-stay, which meant we couldn't put the headsail up easily. We had to feed the tape up the forestay half an inch at a time."

Ogilvie: "Next morning it was freezing cold."

Beesley: "There was snow on the mountain as we went up the river."

Later Photos

Sailing up Middle Harbour
Being lazy on Plum Crazy 😎 - with Morgan White at Castle Rock Beach
Being lazy on Plum Crazy 😎 - with Morgan White at Castle Rock Beach
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