LION NEW ZEALAND
Sir Peter Blake had a very specific idea of the boat that he wanted to build for the 1985/86 Whitbread Around the World Race. After discussions with a number of top New Zealand yacht designers the design was awarded to New Zealander Ron Holland, based in Ireland.
The boat had to have the following criteria:
31 tons actual displacement weight (light but stiff)
It needed to excel to windward
It had to be very fast when reaching under two sails
It had to be fully controllable downwind with a spinnaker up
It had to be a masthead rig
The result was one of the finest International Ocean Racing (I.O.R). maxi sloops ever built.
Construction of Lion NZ began in 1983, with a launch date set for November 1984. This was to coincide with the Sydney to Hobart Race beginning on Boxing Day - her first real test.
Unfortunately, on completion Lion NZ came in 8 tons heavier that the original design draft and to make matters worse all the weight was in the wrong places, her hull and fittings. It became apparent that the extra weight was going to slow the boat down in lighter conditions.
Lion's first race - the 1984 Sydney to Hobart Race - was a true test. After 3 days, 11 hours, 31 minutes, 21 seconds Lion NZ crossed the finish Lion in First Place. She had proven her strength and gained the nickname, "The Urban Assault Vehicle".
Lion NZ went on to finish a commendable 2nd Place in the Whitbread Around the World Race.
NZ SAILING HEROES - THE LION NZ CREW
Andrew Taylor - Aran Hansen - Bob Graham - Cole Sheehan - Ed Danby - Fraser Maxwell - Glen Sowry - Godfrey Cray - Graeme Handley - Grant Dalton - Grant Spanhake - Kevin Shoebridge - Martin Ford - Mike Quilter - Paul MacDonald - Paul von Zalinski - Peter Blake - Ralph Lucas - Ross Guiniven - Roy Mason - Simon Gundry - Tony Rae