Past commodore Wesley (Wes) Vance, 1963 – 1965 was one of the early commodores once the club had shifted over to Coffee Point. As a committed sailor in his own right, he ordered an H28 from Stuart Ward over in Cottesloe in early 1958, as he saw them as a great family boat for Rottnest and racing them in a class was part of his plan.

She was one of the first H28’s built with an iron keel as lead was becoming expensive and she was built with Karri frames and planked in Jarrah. Truly a WA built boat. She was originally rigged with a shaped Oregon mast and galvanised wire rigging, an Oregon boom and spinnaker pole.

Wes was also one of the foundation members of the H28 fleet in 1963, while rear commodore regatta. He and a number of the ‘cruising’ fleet H28 owners decided that they should sail as a fleet in their own right and so they have for the last 60 years.

Ah, the name you ask.

He had three children Kaye, Ross and Lynn. Take the first two letters from each name and you have Ka-ro-ly.  Add the traditional “a” that the H28s append to their boat names and Karolya was born. Of course, his son Ross continued to sail at the club with an H28 known as Suzanna and kept the affiliation with the fleet alive.

Recently, Gary Shugg, one of his sons in law very kindly offered the archives some small items of the past commodore’s gear and the brass name plate that Karolya wore has been presented to the archives with the H28 division duly notified as they may have plans for it.

She sailed in two of the Fremantle to Mandurah offshore races and featured very well under several owners with one spectacular account during an ocean race under the ownership of Dr Malcolm Blair. “With a full rig and spinnaker set, the old wooden mast succumbed to a stiff sea breeze and exploded in a shower of Oregon spears as many years of service came to an end”.

As the years rolled by, her name was changed to a more manageable Karoleeya and she was retired from ocean racing when legislation changed, but she could still cruise offshore and did attend racing in Cockburn Sound which were sheltered waters. Briefly, she has been owned by Owen Howells; Ernie Little in the 1980’s; then to Errol Atkins; Jay Lawry (who restored her) in 2014 and then into Graeme Lewis’s hands (or they may have shared the ownership) till Jay left to go to Tasmania. Then she has sailed consistently with Steve Hill helming till 2020 when she had a collision at Cockburn Sound and barely made it back to her pen at SoPYC. She was repaired but now sits in her pen, a shadow of herself.

She was named Karolya for the three very much-loved children of P.C. Wes Vance.

Would anyone like to save her?

For the archives.

Rick Steuart