A humble handmade boat that helped launched the yachting career of Sir Peter Blake has a new home at the New Zealand Maritime Museum after gathering dust in a Warkworth shed for decades.

Sir Peter, with his brother Tony, built the 7-metre keel yacht named Bandit in the backyard of their Bayswater family home in 1966, when he was just 17.

Bandit was one of the vessels Sir Peter learnt his craft on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf as a teenager, winning several Auckland sailing competitions in the summer of 1968 when they eventually got it out on the water.

The 7-metre keel yacht named Bandit was built by Sir Peter in 1966 when he was just 17, along with his brother Tony, in the backyard of their Auckland family home in Bayswater.
The 7-metre keel yacht named Bandit was built by Sir Peter in 1966 when he was just 17, along with his brother Tony, in the backyard of their Auckland family home in Bayswater.

He went on to have one of the most celebrated sailing careers in New Zealand's history -including winning the America's Cup in 1995 and successfully defending it in 2000, and circumnavigating the globe six times.

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But in 2001, Sir Peter was shot and killed by pirates who boarded his vessel Seamaster near the mouth of the Amazon river. He was 53 years old.

The small yacht was discovered by Bruce Tantrum of the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust in a Warkworth shed in 2013.

Bruce Tantrum from the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust discovered Bandit in a Warkworth shed in 2013.
Bruce Tantrum from the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust discovered Bandit in a Warkworth shed in 2013.

He says it is fitting Bandit now sits on permanent display in the Maritime Museum's Blue Water Black Magic gallery, alongside the NZL 32 "Black Magic" yacht Sir Peter sailed to victory at the 1995 America's Cup.

"Having Blake's first keel boat next to Black Magic, which represents one of the greatest achievements of his career, it's like a little duckling alongside its mother duck," says Tantrum.

Yachting Developments in Hobsonville has been restoring Bandit over two years, using as much of the original rigging, fittings and sails as possible.

Tantrum started the restoration process after meeting Viv Wyatt who acquired Bandit in the late 90s and kept the boat in Warkworth.

Wyatt gifted Bandit to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust which paid a token sum of 20 cents to complete the transfer.

Bandit on display at New Zealand Maritime Museum.
Bandit on display at New Zealand Maritime Museum.

Sir Peter's wife, Lady Pippa Blake, who saw the restored boat last year when she was visiting New Zealand for the Volvo Ocean Race, said she was excited for boating enthusiasts to see the vessel for the first time.

"Although Bandit was before my time, she always seemed to be there. Peter often talked about her and looked back very fondly on those days. That boat meant a lot to him," she said.

The process of Sir Peter actually building Bandit was a trial in itself for the aspiring teenage sailor.

At one stage during the two-year build molten lead leaked all over the Blake family lawn, after the iron bathtub being used to melt the keel cracked.

After sitting for 14 years in storage in Warkworth, the superyacht builder who helped restore Bandit, Ian Cook, says the craftsmanship was remarkable given it was built at home.

"Some of the apprentices involved in the restoration were amazed they were able to achieve what they did in their parents' backyard," Cook says.

"It represents the beginning of a journey which shows that if you dream you can achieve great things."

Along with donations from Sir Peter's friends, family and associates, the $42,000 restoration was made possible thanks to an arrangement between Tantrum and Cook.