Melita, an L-Class mullet boat built in 1935 and skippered by Nick Atkinson won the Ponsonby Cruising Club race to Taikata on corrected time. Nine 22′ L-class centre-boarders raced around Auckland harbour before gybing up the tidal Te Atatu River finishing within seven minutes of each other after a two hour charge. Tight racing is the norm for this traditional class that evolved from local shoal-draft fishing boats. Their big race is the Lipton Cup in March. The trophy was donated by Sir Thomas Lipton of America’s Cup fame 95 years ago. Many of the more modern mullet boats are bermudan, but there is a resurgence of gaff-rigged ‘Mulleties’ (as they are affectionately known) like Melita which is 22′ LOD and a staggering 39′ LOA. Melita is carvel which predominated until the 1960s when cold-moulding became common.
Over 100 L-class mullet boats have been built over the last 120 years in Auckland and they’re a very affordable way to race with a strong traditional class.