It all started when...
In 1975 having sailed his Noelex 22 very successfully for some years, Alex Trethewey began to think about a larger and faster design which would retain all the fine sailing characteristics of the earlier designs.
The oil crisis had brought Trailer Yacht demand to a peak and at one stage 80 different designs were in production in New Zealand. The original Noelex 25 design was of very light displacement and had much finer lines than most 25 footers at that time.
A prototype was built over a male mould using Airex foam as the core material. Whilst the hull was almost identical to the production version, the cabin top more closely resembled the later 22's built in Christchurch. The yacht had a swinging plate rather than a dagger board which was deep and narrow to keep the centre case low resulting in a draft of 5 feet 6 inches.
It introduced a self tacker system and had a taller rig with inners and a backstay. It proved to be very fast with no vices and won its division in the South Island Championships. Two vessels were built to this design, Cynosure the prototype and Dor Bloyz built by Wally Burroughs in Canterbury.
Having decided that the yacht should go into production Alex made an approach to Steve Martin who was building very nice Noelex 22's and world beating 470s.
After Cynosure had a win in the 1976 Nationals Steve became interested and a deal was struck with Marten Marine to produce moulds on a fifty-fifty basis with Noelex Yachts with a set to go to Christchurch. This did not eventuate in the long run although it was agreed that a proportion of hulls would be sent to the Christchurch factory for finishing.
Steve made a major re-design of the cabin top and the interior and changed the keel to a dagger board and raised the top to give more headroom. Decreasing the mast height by a metre was a particularly important change which gave the 25 it's legendary ability in heavy weather.
The backstay disappeared and not long after production commenced in 1978 it was found that the inners were of no advantage in tuning the rig. By 1980 they disappeared completely.
The plugs were made and the first Noelex 25 was produced using the hull plug and a moulded top. This was "Grumpys Toy" which is still racing every weekend with the Canterbury Trailer Yacht Squadron after spending some years in Rotorua and Queenstown. Keith Atkinson, a former N22 skipper is the present owner. The first full production yacht was "Orange Roughy" shortly followed by "Mrs Binns."
The Noelex 25 quickly became the fastest production Trailer Yacht in New Zealand and was first and second in the 1980 Trailer Yacht Nationals. Later on that year the N25 became a national class sharing this distinction with the Hartley 16 and Noelex 22.
Production could not keep up with demand in the early days, the pre Boat Tax price of about $8000 was partly the reason but this cost quickly inflated to $20,000 by mid 1980. This however did not decrease its popularity and there was a waiting list for many years.
Newer designs such as the Ross 780 quickly took over the 25's crown but by then class racing was in full swing in Auckland and Taupo. Owners were keen to compete and the first Nationals had 35 entrants at the line. Easter was selected as the most appropriate time and the nationals have been raced at this time ever since.
The class was enthusiastically encouraged by Marten Marine and a regular newsletter kept owners throughout the country in touch with news and developments. The first moulds soon wore out and two more were eventually produced. The final version saw a general tidy up of the interior which had always been fairly basic. The introduction of the pop top was an overdue enhancement as well as the interior liner copied from the larger N30 design. A competition was held for a name for the newsletter and "Self Tacker" was chosen from the many entries. To help coordinate activities Fleet Captains were appointed in each major area and their reports were given at the AGM each year. Imagine the surprise in August 1987 when Marten Marine announced out of the blue that they had suspended production and sold the moulds to an Australian Company!
Gone was the support for the Owners Association and the information that the new manufacturer was Mau Mau Marine of Adelaide was met with some misgivings. It turned out, however, that the build quality was at least equal to the New Zealand product and production continued apace. Unfortunately production eventually ceased in Australia and the moulds lie unused in South Australia.
The yacht continued to be immensely popular due to its good handling and ability to be sailed shorthanded or by family crews. Strict class rules prevented owners with the biggest cheque books from gaining an advantage as well as keeping the sail wardrobe to the bare minimum. Whilst the N25 was no slug in the light, it was in the heavy that it really came into its own and often in mixed class racing it was the only design to finish when the going got really rough.
One of the early achievements of the Noelex 25 was the amazingly fast trip to the Bay of Islands by Steve Marten. Leaving Auckland on Boxing Day with the family he made the trip in 17 hours, planing a good deal of the way.
One of the most unusual cruises undertaken by a 25 was that of "TURNABOUT" sailed by Bob Turner of Marton. After trailing 1000KM and sailing across Cook Strait they lashed the trailer to the hull at Lake Manapouri and slowly motor sailed at two knots to West Arm. After 9 hours plus they arrived at West Arm.
From there they were towed by an old Bedford truck over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove to start a 3 week cruise going right down to Dusky Sound. The only problem they had was preventing the sandfly squadrons from sinking the boat!
The longest recorded off shore cruise was on "STILL WATERS" from Westport in 1993. Ron and Gary Pearson left Westport at 2145 14 December and arrived Kawhia at 2120 16 December 1993. They ran a total of 329 nautical motor sailing most of the way due to light winds. During the trip they used 66 litres of fuel at an average speed of 6.9 knots using a 15hp Honda.
The Noelex 25 also became very popular in Australia where its cruising potential was quickly recognized. Victoria with its Gippsland lakes had a great culture of trailer yachts and it was from this interest that the Interdominions were instigated. This bienniel event has been contested since 1980. To the dismay of New Zealand owners the upstart Aussies have more wins to their credit than the local experts and there is some unfinished business in this regard.
In spite of the profile that racing gives a class it is in the anchorages of the Hauraki Gulf, the bays of the Marlborough Sounds or the golden beaches of Tasman Bay that the Noelex 25 comes into its own. Easily handled by husband and wife and offering comfortable accommodation for the family it is a wonderful cruising machine which has stood the test of time.