“We turned and twisted her all ways and she was a delight” ……”it is very hard to fault a cruiser of this calibre”…….”Westerly have not produced a dud boat yet and they certainly won’t spoil their record with Centaur” yachting monthly, July 1969.
Little did the author of those words 51 yrs ago know how true they would turn out to be! And no doubt little did the designer realise how great a boat he designed when at the drawing board, yes a drawing board! No Apple macs or Intel laptops with number crunching algorithms in those days, pure intelligence, skill, a sharp pencil and sliding rule! Genius!
I can tell you something else the designer knew little about too, whilst he was at his drawing board designing Centaur in 1967-68 a baby boy born in Cardiff would one day be writing about his boat 53yrs later; on a device with a glass screen called a tablet during a lock down of UK society during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic! How life has twists and turns that are unforeseen hey!
For me one of those twists came about when after being caretaker of Centaur CR1 for 2yrs I was offered the proposition of buying her? But here is an ironic twist, I didn’t know until after I bought her she was the first Centaur built! The previous owner had bought her and due to illness never ever set foot on her in the water!
For me I’ve never been that familiar with the Centaur, I’ve always loved the LM27 and Nauticat 33 but although the Centaur had been below my radar I must say I’ve fallen in love with her and one reason is because I have a technical background in that I spent over 12yrs as a North Sea Saturation Diver and being very used to small confined spaces I can see how well designed she is, and designed to not only be spacious and extremely versatile but easily affordable and adaptable for thousands of owners. The accommodation and storage, the feeling of space despite many features, a deck easy to walk around, a dry deep cockpit, standing headroom, and once you spend a few hours in one to get a feel you cannot help but be very impressed that this vessel capable of crossing an Ocean only has a waterline of 21ft!!!! They are a masterclass in design!
So where has CR1 been all these years? Well among the documents I received after the previous owner deceased was a ‘Brief history of Janina II’ to paraphrase:
She was the pre production prototype boat show model and originally equipped with the Volvo MD1 and later upgraded to the MDII. The original owner was a BOAC pilot who sold her in 1977 to the Burns family. She was moored for a further 6yrs at Hythe Yacht Club and cruised the Solent, South West England, the Scillies, France and the Channel Islands. ‘She was a family sailing boat used by two generations from ages 1 to 60 yrs of age’. ‘She proved to be a capable sailing vessel sailing in wind strengths F1 to F8 and her shallow draught and bilge keels allowed access to many harbours and creeks with hours spent dried out with children digging sand castles around her’.
In 1983 she was brought around from Southampton in “a 3 week epic journey to Swansea”. Based out of South Wales she spent the next 15yrs there and cruised the Bristol Channel, West Coat of Devon, Cornwall and Ireland. (An experienced international sailor once said to me ‘if you can sail around Wales, Bristol Channel, Irish Sea, Lands End, The Scillies; with their variation of tidal heights, weather and strong currents ….you can sail anywhere in the world!!).
In the 1980s she was “stripped back and epoxied as a preventative measure”. In the mid 1990s Janina II featured in an article in the Practical Boat Owner (as anyone got a copy?). 1999 she was sold ‘to purchase a sail training vessel’.
In 2011 (maybe before) she went to Ilfracombe and had various electronic upgrades, new upholstery and in 2014 a new set of sails. Her keels were ‘professionally rebedded’ in 2015.
In 2017 she was bought by John Clarke and transported from Ilfracombe to Lower Town Harbour, Fishguard West Wales. She was moored up and occasionally motored during summer months and winter stored in the boat yard.
In 2019 current owners Ray and Sarah Loveless bought her and she is currently undergoing a full refit, comprising of Engine rebuild, new cutless bearing and stern gear overhaul, electrical rewire, rudder rebuild/protection modification. New upholstery and more. She will remain based out of Lower Town Fishguard for the foreseeable future and after the current refit she will embark on her next chapter of adventure, future destinations planned are the Islands off West Wales, The Scillies, West Coast of Ireland, St Kilda, Rockall and the Faroe Isles. In 2011 it was estimated she had done around 20,000 miles and now in 2020 she is 51 yrs and still going strong! ‘Jack’ Laurent Giles? well done that man! Thank you!