REG GARDNER AND THE ENDEAVOUR YACHT HISTORY
Reg Gardner began his working life as an electrician, and later with his brother formed R & A Gardner Electrical Contractors. Reg was born, educated and still lives in San Souci, Sydney. At school he was a fine athlete and sportsman. Reg began his sailing career when he was 20 years old, sailing his homemade VJ with the Georges River Sailing Club. Reg won the club championship in his first year.
In 1963, Reg had become concerned with the deteriorating state of the woodwork in the hull of his plywood yacht after only a short period of time, so he began to look around for a replacement that he could build in fibreglass. In those days the Botany Bay Yacht Club had only a handful of yacht owners. Reg had decided that fibreglass was the future and wanted a 24' boat suitable for cruising and racing with offshore capability. At about this time, boat builder John Bott, was developing a round bilge 24' hull. This design had good potential J.O.G. racing characteristics.
Reg leased the hull plug and began to make a hull and deck mould, enlisting the assistance of Naval Architect Len Hedges to design the keel and sail plan. Before long Reg had aroused the interest of his sailing friends and before he had finished, six of his mates had paid their deposit. During this time Reg was still in the electrical contracting business, he did not move into boat building full time until the late 1960's.
In 1965 Reg decided to display the 24' Endeavour in the Sydney Boat and Caravan Show, this was the turning point as orders flowed in. It was Reg's plan to sell the yacht in "Kit form" and this made up the majority of sales. In 1968, Reg was invited to enter the 24' Endeavour in the prestigious Capt. James Cook trophy for J.O.G. yachts in England. Reg and his brother Bert, together with factory foreman Ron Cox, Joe Ward and Eric Bradley, decided to make the trip and to participate in the 1/4 ton series, held in Holland.
The transport of the yacht to England via the Cape and the subsequent drama of wanting the yacht offloaded in England but having the cradle continue to Holland for the trip home was a saga in itself.
Although not very successful in the James Cook Trophy, Reg was second out of twenty starters in the single-handed race around the Isle of Wight and they were fourth in the world 1/4 ton series. On return to Australia, the 24' Endeavour was sold to an enthusiast in Guam. Subsequently quite a few more 24's (and later 26's) were shipped to Guam.
In 1960, Reg visited America to study boat-building trends, on his way to England for the J.O.G. series. On return he decided the future lay in enlarging the range up to 30'. He began to plan for the 26'. It was decided to extend the plan of the 24' and Kerry Gibson of Sailflite Sails was responsible for the sail plan. A prototype was launch at Botany Bay creating much interest amongst friends and local yachtsmen. The first production 26' was launched in 1969, Reg also, on request, produced a second model for buyers wanting an extra 3" of headroom.
Over the years 328 24's and 194 26's were built with the majority sold in kit form. Reg began building at Kogarah and at one stage had factories at Carlton, Penshurst and Hurstville. In the early days, Reg subcontracted and eventually, in the mid sixties, was doing fibreglassing as well as the assembly. Reg moved to the present factory at Warragamba in 1971. Yachts were shipped to New Guinea and Guam and to all states of Australia Thirty footers being very popular in Tasmania.
In the late sixties a 24' Endeavour was sailed via Torres Strait to South Africa and then to England. The Australian Navy bought 4 Endeavour 24's to train Navy Cadets at Jervis Bay. With changes to the I.O.R rule in 1972, and the development within the "Half Ton" class, Reg decided to produce a 30'. This was a totally new design. Graham Tilley, a Naval architect with Marine Research Contractors, was the designer and a yacht with a wide maximum beam and a narrow waterline width was designed.
The 30' proved popular and one was raced by Ron Cox (Reg's foreman) in a Sydney to Hobart, for most of the race they looked Handicap winners, but fickle winds off Tasman Island and in the Derwent were their undoing.
Reg built a one off I.O.R. 1/4 ton yacht to test the market, but this was not very successful. In the late seventies a motor sailer Viking 23 was made at Gosford and a cruising version of the 26' with a distinctive long cabin, was produced, this was known as Endeavour 27'.
In the late eighties, Reg began building catamarans, seventeen versions in all were constructed ranging from 23' to 47'. At the height of production at Warragamba, employed 12 staff and could produce 23' Trailer Sailers, 23' Viking, Catamarans, canoes, Endeavours 19', 24', 26', 27', 28' and 30' and an Endeavour 32' centre cockpit. In all, over 600 yachts were built including some Adams 8m and 11.1m and fibreglass Dragons.
These days Reg leads a quieter life. He is still occasionally sails with Botany Bay Yacht Club and derives great satisfaction watching Endeavour 24 and 26's racing competitively with 28 and 30 footers. Reg has won Endeavour 26 Title many times. Those privileged to sail with and against him know him to be the "Gentleman Sailor". Those who sail his yachts are grateful for all his efforts.
Although sailing was a big absorber of his time, Reg somehow found time to be active in community affairs with 31 years in Rotary and delights in spending time with his understanding and supportive wife Norma, three daughters Roslyn, Marlene and Diane, and seven grandchildren.
Reg was the Foundation Commodore of the Botany Bay Yacht Club, and has served continuously on the board. He is a life member. Reg is only too happy to provide information and advice, tuning tips and so on. Contact him on 02 9529 647
The EYAV office bearers for 2008/2009 are:
President Frank Rendell HBYC
Secretary/ Treasurer Mark Sheahan HBYC
Further Information can be obtained from the President Frank Rendell
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