Anthony D Blake
The 1934 Transtasman race from Auckland to Melbourne
Oil on canvas
40 x 60 cm
Relative Size: The 1934 Transtasman race from Auckland to Melbourne
Relative size

The painting shows Ngataki in the foreground and Te Rapunga to windward slogging past North Head at the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour in a very fresh north east wind. Two of Ngataki's crew are busy at the bow, spray flies over them as they try to hoist the flying jib. Eventually a crewman is hoisted up the mast to clear the jib halyard allowing the flying jib to be hoisted. The launch Luana is the only remaining spectator vessel following the two yachts in these rough conditions.

This was the second Trans-Tasman race, the first being held in 1931, with a course from Auckland to Sydney. Ngataki was owned and skippered by Johnny Wray, Te Rapunga by George Dibbern. They were the only yachts in the race which started from a launch anchored off Mechanics Bay. For both vessels the race proved extremely challenging. Te Rapunga was beached in the Bay of Islands due to extensive leaks, recaulked, floated and continued the race which she won on line and handicap. Ngataki arrived nearly two days later having weathered a horrendous storm as she passed through Bass Strait.

Johnny Wray built Ngataki in Auckland to his own design. Her sails, spars and rigging were all salvaged from the four masted barque Rewa, which had run aground and was being used as a breakwater at a small island 20 miles north of Auckland. Johnny Wray wrote a fascinating book on the building and sailing of Ngataki called South Sea Vagabonds. She has recently been restored and is part of the Tino Rawa Trust and races with the CYANZ (Classic Yacht Association) fleet in Auckland.

George Dibbern built Te Rapunga in Germany and sailed her out to New Zealand. He wrote a book called Dark of the Sun about his time with Te Rapunga. Te Rapunga is presently undergoing a complete restoration in Tasmania, Australia. The plan is for both yachts to take part in the 2024 Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart.