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Deryn Glas
Deryn Glas owned by Keith Jones
Deryn Glas owned by Keith Jones

Boat TypeBluebird
Sail NumberMH143
ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
LOA6.7m, 22f
Beam2.24m, 7.34f
Draught1.17m, 3.83f
Year Build1961 (age 61)
Former OwnersKeith Jones
Designer (s)Ken Watts
Former CrewAlan Keirle
Alan Ponton
Alan Underwood
Bev Bashford
Nick Gervay
Peter Polman
Vic Halloran

Deryn Glas

Deryn Glas article by Keith Jones

In 1961 I bought a 22-foot wooden Bluebird-class yacht. It was purchased as a fibreglass shell and delivered using a truck from Firefighting Equipment 'commandeered' by Alan Keirle to 22 Lavoni Street. Ateam of friends carried the shell up the front lawn where it was set up on a concrete patio built for the purpose. I named it Deryn Glas, which is Welsh for bluebird.

Timber interior fittings, bulkheads and so on were built over a two-year period. My late cousin, Les Atkins, a carpenter and cabinet maker, was of great assistance. Others who were to form the crew - Bev Bashford, Alan Keirle, Alan Ponton, Alan Underwood, Peter Polman and Vic Halloran -contributed time and labour.

In late 1963, having missed the start of the season, Deryn Glas was taken to Clontarf where John Jeffress fitted the cast-iron keel. When collected from the foundry the keel was over 100 pounds too light. To compensate for this, the lead ballast, put in the bilge for compliance with the waterline measurement, was removed. Plaster of Paris moulds in boxes of sand were made. John MacCallum assisted Alan Ponton melting the lead and making 'plugs' in the moulds. These fitted the appropriate areas very well and added to the yacht's stability.

The aim of reducing windage was taken into account when building the cabin hatch and other deck fittings. The main sheet hawse was designed with a curve to encourage the mainsheet to be more central when on a wind, but to run out towards the gunwales when running.

There had been stories of Bluebirds having trouble rounding up on spinnaker shy runs. For that reason I took the plan's rudder design and enlarged it significantly in all directions. It also had a beautiful aerofoil cross-section and a square, non-breakaway edge along its bottom.

The mast and rigging were made by Peter Cole, then in Marrickville. He also made us a beautiful suit of sails.

Deryn Glas was launched on 16 November 1963 (the day on which in the President Kennedy's assassination was reported in Australia). From the first moment putting the yacht hard on the wind, it was evident to me that we had something exceptional. She was beautifully balanced, responsive to the helm and a sheer delight to sail. This was proven subsequently when a number of other skippers won races in the yacht, on occasions when I was unavailable. The first start was a Wednesday afternoon race (in days when a larger fleet turned out than today). Deryn Glas won on handicap. The first start in the Bluebird Division resulted in a third place in the scratch start event. She went on to win the Autumn Point Score of 1963/64.

The Bluebird Division of those days provided great racing. The little boat could be used for racing, day sailing and even holidays aboard. Accommodation aboard was cramped and on Deryn Glas we used a boom cover which allowed greater use of the cockpit and even allowed that area to be used as the galley when anchored. We customarily spent a week or more aboard at Cowan Creek just before Christmas each year - two adults, three children and a dog!

Bluebird Division racing was great, with Ron Ewen (Karalee II) being champion in the early 60's. Tim Wilson was very competitive but departed for greater things in mid-1960. Toni Redstone (Mandy) was always to the fore. He went on to win a World Title in the Thunderbird class in California. Albert Byrom (Erps Kwerps) was great in light Weather. Doug Brooker built a timber Bluebird with a lead keel in the mid-1960s, and although he acquitted himself very well, the craft could not always pace the fibreglass version.

Other famous Bluebird names were Bill Liddell, David Noakes and Hewan Greenwood, who was exceptionally good. There are several still racing with MHYC - Keith Poole and Ben Nossiter for example.

John Conroy Snr commenced sailing at an advanced age and went through some traumas in his early learning period, but tenaciously honed his skills to become the best Bluebird sailor in the Division in Lotchen III in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the aid of his son, John Conroy Jnr, who still sails with MHYC.

About 1964 there was a Saturday afternoon race held in Sydney Harbour in a north westerly which was recorded at the Sydney Observatory Weather Bureau at 84 knots! Only two divisions of MHYC completed the course. One was the Offshore Division. The other was the Bluebirds. Deryn Glas won from Mandy after having to cover Mandy (in atrocious conditions) on one work up to Fort Denison. Coming up Middle Harbour towards the finish, Deryn Glas was flattened by a gust which put the spreaders in the water and forced in the coach house windows. Alan Keirle fell vertically from the weather gunwale into the water to leeward, without hitting any part of the boat on the Way. The cockpit ropes then fell onto him, and as the boat righted itself, he could not get his head above water. Alan Ponton, with great presence of mind, reached over and pulled him head and shoulders above the water surface. Deryn Glas took a lot of water, but finished without further trouble. More robust coach-house windows were fitted.

Deryn Glas won only one state title, in 1966, though she was placed in five. (Difficulty beating Gerry Garrett of RPAYC was the problem.) She won a total of 234 races. 1972 was the last state title in which she competed, coming third.

Key Crew

Deryn Glas on Sydney Harbour in 1966
Deryn Glas (Keith Jones) on Sydney Harbour in 1966

Key crew in the beginning were:

Nick Gervay - great forehand

Bev Bashford - who sailed with me on various boats

Alan Keirle

Alan Ponton

Alan Underwood

Vic Halloran


Yachting by Lou d'Alpuget - 16th Nov1967

Deryn Glas Collision
Deryn Glas Collision
Deryn Glas Collision
Deryn Glas Collision

Deryn Glas Collision

Over the years there have been some fancy yacht race collisions in Sydney but last Saturday's in Middle Harbour was a beaut.

Without emphasis, let me give you the unvarnished facts, in their proper sequence.

Last Saturday week Bert Oakes' handsome 30ft sloop Stella Mia rolled during a wild spinnaker run near South Reef buoy in the eastern channel, filled and sank.

Unless the tide has carried her around the corner and out to sea this fine Dragon-type racing machine is still on the bottom in about 50' of water. Until yesterday divers, repeatedly searching the sea floor in the area, had not been able to locate her.

As she went down, nearby clubmates in other yachts abandoned their races and quickly rescued Oakes and his two-man crew.

First on the scene was Dr Keith Jones, in his former State champion Bluebird, Deryn Glas, which was leading her fleet. Jones had one of Stella Mia's men aboard within half a minute. Don Flanders in Jillitha, got the other two, one of whom couldn't swim. Hewen Greenwood, in Samantha and club', commodore, Dr Doug Sturrock, in Eudoria, also stood by to help.

Since all had been robbed of winning chances, the club decided to abandon the races for divisions 1 and 3 and Bluebirds in which they had been competing and to resail them last Saturday; unfortunately without Stella Mia.

Jones and his crew - Alan Ponton, Bev. Bashford, Vic. Halloran and Peter Polman - got to the start in Deryn Glas hoping for less drama this time. As they crossed the line close-hauled on a starboard tack with their wind clear and lee-bowing most of their opponents, John Bush, in his Bluebird, Kahala, came upon the scene.

He was travelling; full bore on a port stretch and, apparently blinded by the sun, failed to see the white hull of Deryn Glas right in front of him. Kahala's bow went straight through Deryn Glas' fibreglass topsides, splitting the boat for 18 inches from deck to waterline and shattering her own bows.

As the yachts were prised apart Deryn Glas' crew at first believed the hole in her port side would cause her to sink. But they found that most of Kahala's bow had broken off and had remained stuck in the hole. They packed towels around it to stop the leaks and sailed on in the race, pumping furiously.

They were third in the hot shot fleet at Manly mark, second at Neilsen Park and in the lead at the last mark. And they scrambled home the winners with Carlo II, sailed by Dr Julian Hreglich, breathing down their necks.

Unfortunately, Kahala, without her bow, was unable to compete but Bush got her ashore without wetting his feet.

Who says yacht racing is dull?

Yacht Races Close - 30th Jan 1969

Yacht Races Close - Bluebirds and Endeavours
Yacht Races Close - Bluebirds and Endeavours


Pittwater and Lake Macquarie crews, skilled in light breezes, dominated the first two heats of the State Bluebird class championships sailed from Middle Harbour Yacht Club yesterday.

In the first heat, sailed in the morning, the first three boats almost crossed the line together. Revel (Philip Martyn, Lake Macquarie) won from Impromptu (Bruce Jeffreys, Pittwater) and Deryn Glas (Keith Jones, Middle Harbour).

Allegro got away to win the second heat in the afternoon by a good margin from Revel with Impromptu third and Charade (Tony Mossiter, Middle Harbour) fourth.

A protest has been lodged by Revel against Impromptu alleging a port-and-starboard rule breach.

The Endeavour class State championship on the same course also produced close racing,


Valderee (Alec Nicholson, Middle Harbour) won the first heat Opus One (Trevor Jones, Middle Harbour) was second and Beeswing (Tim Park, Middle Harbour) third. "

The afternoon race followed much the same pattern, with Endeavour II, skippered by the class builder Reg Gardner from Botany, getting away to win well from the current champion Laross (Bill Sherman, Pittwater) and Ronica (Bob Booth, Middle Harbour). 

Bluebird Yacht records 100 Wins - 6th March 1969

Bluebird Yacht records 100 Wins
Bluebird Yacht records 100 Wins - Deryn Glas

By  Our Yachting Writer

Middle Harbour Bluebird class yacht Deryn Glas scored her 100th Win last Saturday--a difficult record to compile in today's highly competitive Sydney Harbour racing fleets.

The century, comprising handicap and scratch wins, was put together in five and a half years.

Owner - skipper Keith Jones, said Deryn Glas was launched about the same time -as Sydney-Hobart winners Freya and Cadence and that 1968 must have been a "vintage year" for good yachts.

But the real secret of her success is crew combination.

Jones and most of his crew, Vic Halloran, Bev Bashford, Alan Ponton and Alan Underwood, have been sailing together since the late 1940s.

They began in VJs, then 16-footers with Middle Harbour Skiff Club before joining the Middle Harbour Yacht Club's Bluebird fleet.

Deryn Glas has been State champion and with her record Jones could be excused ambitions of sailing in a faster type of yacht.

But he says he will stick with the 22ft Bluebirds which are easy to maintain and offer good family cruising as well as racing.

Footnote: Deryn Glas is Welsh for Bluebird. The name was suggested by Jones' father, who was born in Wales.

Bluebird State Titles 1969

Yachting by Lou d
Yachting by Lou d'Alpuget

Bluebird State Championships 1969

STATE champion Bluebird - class skipper Gerry Garrett changes boats like some people change socks.

He pops up like a pantomime demon -in open skiffs, ocean racers and keelboats in Australian and international title races, at different times sailing as helmsman, navigator, tactician, for'ard hand or on the mainsheet.


On Sunday, he won't be defending his 22ft Bluebird-class title, which he won in a borrowed boat last year, but will be crewing aboard Bruce Jeffery's Impromptu in the first two heats of the five-race series to be sailed on the Harbour.

Jeffery's will also have in his crew the hot-shot 16 and 18-footer star, Ken Beashel and, when his brother, Brian Jefferys, is not available, the king of the boat-tuners, sailmaker-yacht designer-helmsman  for'ard hand, Bob Miller.

But they'll get plenty of opposition from Dr Keith Jones and his seasoned team in former State champion, Deryn Glas, which has now scored almost 100 wins in Bluebird scratch races,

There'll be 33 starters in the Bluebird series, which will continue on Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9.

In conjunction with these events and sailing over the same 11 1/2 mile courses (but starting 15 minutes earlier) will be 26 Endeavour class 24 footers, racing for their State Championship.

There have been 96 of these lively fibreglass racing-cruisers built in the past few years and they are coming from as far as Lake Burrendong (near Wellington) to compete.

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