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40 Years, 40 Faces opens at Voyager Museum



It’s not surprising that sailors from Aotearoa feature in the photographic exhibition “40 Years, 40 Faces” which opens at the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum on Auckland’s Hobson Wharf on Saturday 17 January.


The exhibition, sponsored by Volvo to celebrate the first 40 years of the Race, will continue throughout the Auckland Stopover and run until the fleet departs on 15 March.


There’s been a Kiwi imprimatur on racing around the world in crewed yachts ever since New Zealander Peter Blake, then 25 years old, shipped out as watch captain aboard the British 80-foot ketch Burton Cutter in 1973.


Blake was the forerunner of a vanguard of New Zealand sailors who distinguished themselves over the next 40 years in the epic long-distance challenge that started as the Whitbread Race and is known worldwide today as the Volvo Ocean Race.


Blake went on to become the only sailor to compete in the first five editions of the ocean epic, three times as a skipper. He won outright in 1989-90 when his big red ketch Steinlager swept up line, handicap and overall trophies for each of the six legs.


Sailing is one of those unique sports where participants serve up some of the best and most memorable images. While the focus in this photo exhibit is always on people, the subject matter ranges from calms to calamity, from family and friends to fearsome waves.


With a wealth of America’s Cup and round the world race experience, Auckland’s Tony Rae is equally at home grinding a winch, manhandling and mending stiff and soaking wet sails below decks or ministering at sea to the sick and wounded. He’s featured in this exhibition with a shot from the last race, forsaking his sailmaker’s palm and needle as he switches to finer tools to repair the torn lip of team mate Mike Pammenter aboard the Emirates Team New Zealand entry Camper during the last Volvo Race.


New Zealand photographer Hamish Hooper was on hand as the Camper photographer and communications expert to capture Pammenter’s below-decks operation in stormy weather. Hooper also recorded what must be the defining heavy weather on-deck shot as Kiwi helmsman Stu Bannatyne pushes Camper hard in monster waves in the Southern Ocean not long before the boat diverted to Chile with a disintegrating bow section. Framed by a welter of milky blue and white ocean rollers, Bannatyne is almost up to his waist in white water as crew mate Adam Minoprio ducks to avoid the worst of the wave.


In another heavy weather shot Peter Blake is seated with fellow crew members aboard the British maxi Heath’s Condor during the second Whitbread in 1977-78.


There’s a different take on weather in Guy Salter’s photo of Brad Jackson aboard the Ericsson 4 in the Indian Ocean between Cochin and Singapore in 2008. The New Zealander, who sailed on three winning boats, is warily eyeing the advancing distinctive black clouds of a weather front across an almost calm but menacing sea.


Champagne toasts at Cape Horn, dockside hugs and kisses from loved ones, intimate glimpses of life below decks and heart-stopping views from aloft – Simon Le Bon, lead singer of Duran Duran features in the rigging of his maxi Drum in 1985 – all inspire viewers to pull on their sea boots or hunker down in their armchairs.


Entry to the Museum and “40 Years, 40 Faces” is free for all Aucklanders.