Matt Cole might be a relatively new name on Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour and the new kid on the block, but his family’s love of sailing stems back to Matt’s Grandfather who was one of the founding members of the Glendowie Boating Club in the early 1940s. Matt’s Grandfather also became a stalwart of the Zephyr Sailing Association when he built Zephyr #65 which launched in 1952 but with less time for sailing as his young family began to grow the yacht was sold. Matt and his family recently located his Grandfather’s old Zephyr underneath a house and set upon completely refurbishing it for his father’s 60th birthday. The Zephyr now sits proudly in the entranceway of the family home, in a purpose-built glass case that features the high gloss mahogany topsides and mahogany mast in all of their glory.
Matt Cole grew up around the Auckland waterfront, learning to sail in a wooden optimist and spending time with his family on their 18-foot trailer sailer before progressing to a Young 88, Dufour Cruising Yacht and various launches but it was rowing that became the sport of choice for Matt, which saw him row at a number of regatta’s for New Zealand before returning to sailing at 22, in his first yacht, a Pied Piper.
Fast forward a few years and Matt Cole is now the man behind the purchase and extensive refurbishment of the Ker40 Zephyrus (previously Ice Breaker and named after his Grandfather) after a conversation with a family friend and America’s Cup sailor Craig Monk who is now Matt’s mentor and sailing coach.
After the purchase of the yacht, Matt and his crew began to pull the 2011 boat apart, very quickly, they realized it had been sailed hard for its years and might need a little more attention than expected and with a bulkhead structure needing replacement, Matt took the opportunity to re-work the yacht entirely. Although purchasing the Ker40 wasn’t Matt’s first choice, his cost to benefit analysis coupled with availability in New Zealand saw him buy a yacht that matched his young crew’s ability. The rebuild process of Zephyrus was a baptism of fire for Matt and his crew, however, perhaps a blessing in disguise as they are now all in tune with the intricacies of the yacht.
When asked about how he chose his crew, Matt replied “It was the simplest part of the whole process. I’ve chosen who I want onboard based on personality, character, what they can bring to our team with their sailing CV being the final piece of the puzzle”. Ultimately, it seems their team has been selected on a basis of commitment to the greater picture.
Matt’s ambition with Zephyrus is simple. He wants to form the best core team he can, that will support him as much as he supports them, work with him on building a solid foundation and use the Ker40 as a stepping stone into bigger yachts. With an average crew age of 23 years, they will build their crew and skills together – some people onboard already boast significant keelboat experience and are graduates of the RNZYS Youth Training Programme – but the focus remains on the atmosphere, loyalty and crew development.
The Zephyrus made her new debut this week on a brilliantly, sunny Auckland day but the Zephyrus will look a little different than previous seasons. The yacht has been fitted with a new rig and working through the Class 40 SLED, Matt has sourced some prefab carbon componentry which they have used to install a new, longer prod, new rudder and made a change from wheels to a tiller for ease around the windward/leeward race tracks.
Zephyrus will also showcase a complete Doyle Stratis inventory in an eye-catching colourway of black and bright green speed stripes. Doyle Sails Structured Luff technology is onboard with jib tack cunningham systems and jib locks installed to work with the sails. The Zephyrus’ Stratis sails are built from Doyle’s premier product Stratis 1100 CT. Carbon and Technora fibres are used in conjunction with specific resins which have been selected for their long term durability and resistance to high humidity and wet conditions, while also being lighter, faster and stronger.
Matt has had significant involvement throughout the entire Doyle Sails process, working with Grand Prix sail designers (and sailors) Daniel Fong and Stefano Nava to design and develop the optimal sail inventory based on the experience and budget. The technical side of Structured Luff technology has meant that this could be applied to all headsails easily by retrofitting some mast fittings. The complete inventory includes a Stratis Mainsail, Structured Luff J1, Structured Luff J2, Structured Luff J3, Cableless Code Zero, A1.5 and A2.
With the yacht now in the water and going through the final sea trials, Matt Cole is focused on the Bay of Islands Sailing Week which will see his new yacht line up against the well established and very competitive forty-foot fleet. It is a goal Matt has been working towards since the purchase “this regatta is the deadline and we have made all of our modifications around the windward/leeward style racing of the regatta” he said. However, he doesn’t plan on being here for long and is set on the Ker40 becoming a stepping stone towards bigger things for his team – his long term vision for the Zephyrus brand is to be onboard a TP52.
With a passion for yachting, Matt Cole is set to do things differently, he is on the water to learn and seek enjoyment and share memories and experiences with his friends and family – if they win, that will simply be a by-product of their commitment as a crew.
ABOUT DOYLE SAILS // As sailors, our obsession with sailing connects us to the water. The water is our playground, a sanctuary where we seek enjoyment, a competitive playing field where we race; it’s sometimes our home, and always a place that unlocks our sense of adventure wherever that adventure might take us.
Our obsession with sailing takes us to every corner of the world and onboard every yacht. We become part of teams, share in the adventures of friends and families, sharing our knowledge and experience with those who have the same passion for sailing as we do. Sailing is in our DNA, where the water unlocks our sense of adventure. We are the custodians of a legacy that has been supporting sailors for close to four decades and while our world changes around us, our commitment to sailors who seek the same enjoyment and adventure as we do hasn’t. From our sailors to yours, we are your experts in sailing. Your adventure starts with Doyle.