“Ultimately, it is why the marine business exists isn’t it? Fun? Owners buy boats to have fun,” explained (Black) Joe Akacich from Blackpond Marine Consultants at GCCM.
For the love of fun Black Joe, Graham (Scooter) Eaton, Mike McLean and Andrew Torte – otherwise known as The Syndicate – have purchased S/Y Bumblebee IV and, with the support of Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard (GCCM), moved her to the facility to resurrect her, pay respects to her racing heritage and have some laughs along the way.
S/Y Bumblebee IV is legendary in Australian yacht racing circles. She was designed by prolific Argentinian Yacht Designer, German Frers, who oversaw her build in 1979 at Kelly & Haugh’s facilities in Mona Vale. She is 79-feet in length, aluminium in construction, built by the dearly departed Graeme (Frizzle) Freeman for the equally dynamic John Kahlbetzer taking line honours in her first attempt at the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Arguably, the best yacht racing pedigree in living memory.
In the time between her launch and The Syndicate taking ownership in July of this year, S/Y Bumblebee IV had five owners including Sid Fisher who named her Ragamuffin. She has sailed in countless Sydney to Hobart races as well as travelled to Newport and Sardinia for the international yacht racing circuit. In 1993, she essentially retired from competitive sailing and was stationed in the Whitsunday Islands conducting sailing and tourism charters.
Scooter from Australian Marine Enterprises (AME), a long-time tenant of GCCM and leading Australian yachtsman, has had a relationship with the yacht for many years. That connection was reignited in 2013 when she underwent a massive refit with the view to complete another Sydney to Hobart, which she did coming 23rd across the line. Scooter stayed in contact with the then owner and when the chance in July of 2017 came up to own her, The Syndicate, somewhat on a folly, took the chance. Now she is in the keel pit at GGCM getting ready for the next chapter.
“We are really excited to support Black, Scooter, Mike and Andrew (from South Pacific Marine Group also based at GCCM) with their plans. Not only is it a chance to get up close and personal with a slice of Australian yachting royalty, the GCCM team is also keen to get back to what we see as the heart of the Australian boating culture – a little bit of competitive fun, honing some sailing and seaman skills at the same time,” stated GCCM CEO, Mr Trenton Gay.
Scooter supported Trenton by saying, “To a certain degree, this plan has been five years in the making for me as I believe the industry needs to get back to some basics – sailing, having fun and just a little bit of healthy competition. So GCCM’s support was timely and very encouraging to the owners as it reinforced we were moving in the right direction.”
Once S/Y Bumblebee IV has completed the required works on the hardstand at GCCM utilising many of the 600+ onsite contractors as well as the considerable skills of the owners themselves, she will be embarking on a relaxed racing campaign.
“She is a solid design and build and once we are ready, her life will be limitless. That said, we are going to pay tribute to heritage not recreate it. You will see her manned by 20-odd crew and on the start line for the Brisbane to Gladstone, Airlie Beach Race Week, Hamilton Island Race Week and maybe even the Noumea race planned by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. There will be some friendly rivalry but mostly a lot of laughs and great sailing,” stated Black Joe. Aside from being a founding tenant of GCCM, Joe has also completed consecutive and very successful Sydney to Hobart campaigns.
GCCM are sponsoring the yacht and, along with The Syndicate, will use her as a facility to inspire their team and clients to get out on the water, unwind and have some fun.
The next chapter for S/Y Bumblebee IV will see her back on the water inspiring the next generation of Australian sailors as well as supporting charities and causes supporting those who are not lucky enough to have such access to the sea.