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Chrys Alice Anderson stands in front of the two hulls of her 20m catamaran. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Health halts catamaran dream

Chrys Alice Anderson always had the vision of cruising to Seattle on her 20-metre, six sail catamaran.
She also pictured it winning the Coastal Classic yacht race, which takes place each Labour Weekend between Auckland to Russell.
But the boat hasn’t been able to live up to any of its builder’s expectations, and will be put on the market after a series of health set-backs has stopped Chrys Alice from seeing it finished.
Chrys Alice, who is non-binary and prefers to go by she/her, started sailing in Christchurch in her early teens.
She began building boats at age 14, and from 16 to 23, she built four ‘A Class’ 5.5m catamarans.
The passion took her around the world, from racing under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, to travelling from French Polynesia to the Bay of Islands on a 38ft fast-sailing trimaran.
While living in Auckland, she started constructing a 20m catamaran known affectionately as ‘Ah!’ – which now sits in a purpose-built Turua shed, but in 2003, she suffered her first stroke.
“It paralysed the right side of my body; all I could move was my thumb,” she said. “But I was back at work after four weeks.”
After the boat spent two years at Sylvia Park in Auckland, two years at Ōtāhuhu, and 11 years at Eureka, in the Waikato, it was transported to the site in Turua at Easter, 2017.
Less than four years later, Chrys Alice suffered a second stroke while she was attending the Pleasant Point Yacht Club’s 100-year jubilee as a guest speaker.
“I cut the cake, gave the speech, went for a sail, and the next day I was watching races, just sitting there, and had another stroke,” she said. “I am deep in debt with carbon… [Waikato Hospital] flew a twin engine jet with a pilot, co-pilot, and medical officer down to pick me up from Christchurch.”
Chrys Alice spent almost four weeks recovering in Thames Hospital, and the stroke has left her with dizziness, as well as problems with her balance and strength. To top it off, she had a heart valve replacement in August this year.
“My sister said: ‘Chrys, you’ve got to get your affairs in order’, and I said: ‘You’re right, but it’s hard, and it’s going to take a while’.”
So, after two decades of working on Ah!, Chrys Alice, now 73, has decided to list the fast-sailing catamaran for sale, but the goodbye will be bittersweet, she said.
“It was my sanity pill. I’d leave work, walk home, and be thinking and planning and designing the boat,” she said.
“I want it to go to someone somewhere who can take advantage of the work that I’ve done. The genesis, the evolution of my thinking… has all led to this.”