Early Racing
Peter Blake history
March 17, 2020

“I liked the look of him. He was cheerful and obviously fit and strong and came on board and he was just wonderful .”
– Les Williams, Burton Cutter skipper

Bandit was often the smallest boat in the offshore racing fleets and Tony recalls one race in winds of 30.35 knots. The first leg was on the wind and Bandit was feeling its lack of waterline, slogging away at the back of the fleet. But, at last they reached the turning mark and headed off downwind. Lessons learned from those wild rides across the harbour on their Z-class dinghies were put to good use as they popped the orange and black spinnaker and surfed through the fleet.. Tony: “By the time we reached the next mark, we were two miles ahead of the nearest boat. It was pretty wild in big seas, but we must have averaged something like 15 knots on that leg.”

On the local scene, Peter’s sailing prowess was gaining wider recognition and he was invited to crew on a number of yachts in major events, including Ton Cup races and the Round North Island race. In one of the offshore races up into the Pacific Islands, Peter was asked to join the crew of Doug Hazard’s boat, Red Feather. It was his first offshore ocean race.

“He was always very serious about racing,” says Tony. “He was very competitive and he was out to win. He got very frustrated on that race, because they were becalmed and the crew got bored. The doctor on board injected some oranges with rum and a party developed. One of the crew fell down the forehatch (luckily escaping injury) and the others got pretty drunk, while Peter kept trying to get the boat moving and stay in the race.”

Even though professional yachting was still unheard of, Peter’s interest in racing at a higher and higher level continued to grow. He sold Bandit and was busy building a replacement, a 26ft Holman & Pye design called Oliver Twist when he decided it was time to wider his horizons.