Veteran Elliott-designed yacht Elliphunk Resurrected as Restoration Project by former Skipper

 In Member Interest, News

Former Coastal Classic division winner ‘Elliphunk’ saw her first Friday Rum Race in over a year on the 18th of February after she was sunk during a start line incident in August 2020. After being salvaged from the Waitemata Harbour, former skipper James ‘Rusty’ Russell and Brian ‘Trubi’ Trubovich took on the resurrection and purchased the salvaged boat.  

She spent the next 15 months in Trubi’s shed at Waimauku, where with Ned Dalbeth-Hudson’s expert help and the odd sociable working bee, she emerged late in 2021 and returned to Westhaven Marina to take on the world once again.

 Russell acknowledged the amazing work ethic that Trubi has had in the repair of Elliphunk. “He basically worked on the boat 6 to 7 days a week in his spare time – it’s really been a superhuman effort”.

Elliphunk on her first Rum Race return – William Woodworth

“I first sailed against Elliphunk in the mid 90’s, and then went on to sail on her when it was sponsored by Northcote Tavern and owned by Ian ‘Dusty’ Millar”, said Russell. “We have one very memorable win in its division in the coastal classic in 2004 where we won line in Division 3 and managed to be the 21st finisher out of 236 boats that year”

Elliphunk was originally built in 1989 in a backyard in Beachhaven, by Colin Frankham and his father. “The story goes that they had a mullet boat mast and commissioned Greg Elliott to design a 30 foot yacht to suit that 12 metre high mast” says Trubi. According to her old owners ‘Elliphunk’ began life as a difficult boat to sail; “maybe she ended up more like a mullet boat than intended” said Trubi.

She was sold on to Millar, who campaigned the Northcote Tavern sponsored boat for over ten years with Russell aboard. They won another Coastal Classic Division title in 2007 to join their 2004 title, alongside titles and podium finishes in RNZYS Club Series while the crew “responded with generous patronage of said drinking establishment”, at least according to Trubi.

Smiling faces, waves and thumbs up from the new Elliphunk crew – William Woodworth

Elliphunk was then sold to Steve Kennedy who kept the boat in her Northcote spiritual home, while also having success throughout the C and E divisions with James Russell as the skipper. “Under the squadron rules the skipper must be a member of the club” says Rusty. ”At that stage there was a long process to become a member and although I had started the process I wasn’t a member.”

“Through the season we had won the Commodore’s Cup and Club Championship but the old owner Ian Millar, who now had a Ross 930 named Recreation, protested Elliphunk due to me at that stage not being a member”, recalls Russell. The Elliphunk crew went on to win the protest, and subsequently many trophies from that point throughout C and E Division racing in club racing and larger regatta’s like the Coastal Classic. “Back in those day Elliphunk was the 2nd most raced boat in New Zealand only behind Fast Company”, claims Russell

The damage that caused Elliphunk to sink in 2020.
Brian ‘Trubi’ Trubovich and his Granddaughter Mila aboard a still under construction Elliphunk

The pre-Rum Race collision and subsequent sinking left a hole in the port side of Elliphunk’s hull – however since being salvaged and revived by Trubi and Rusty, with more than a few helping hands on the way, Elliphunk is back involved in RNZYS racing. 

After their first sail on the 18th of February Trubi remarked “the first sail was encouraging but just like a pre-season footy game, there’s not a lot to report”. 

“We’re just looking at rum racing to tune her, then we will think about what else to aim for. A brainwave from Megan Thomson led to the team branding of Trusty Racing, so under that 4th ownership the next 10 years of her life could be worth watching!”

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