Australian born Kevin Fleming spent his child hood in the small South Australian fishing town of Port Lincoln, learning to sail and developing early respect for the sea during the early fifties. It was during the early sixties when the cruising bug saw him sail his little thirty two footer to the Great Barrier Reef and back to Sydney, testing his first wind vane system on the 10,000 kilometre voyage, thus starting a life long relationship with these fascinating devises. The short stay in Sydney to top up cruising funds became an eleven year stopover when he started a marine engineering business at the Cruising Yacht Club.
This business designed and built Australia’s first stainless steel stoves, ovens, cabin heaters (eutectic), owner installed refrigeration systems and general marine repair, which often included seized, corroded and broken aluminium self steering systems. Kevin’s past vane experience enabled him to design and build his first stainless steel servo vane eliminating these problems.
The cast stainless steel concept pioneered new building techniques and gained worldwide respect with its no breakdown durability in the inaugural single handed around the world BOC race, along with winning the prestigious AUSTRALIAN DESIGN AWARD. The units quickly became a worldwide success selling in the thousands. Kevin sold this general Marine Engineering business and licensed the vane manufacture to a NZ company, who successfully produced those models for some years. Kevin went cruising in his Swanson 42 landing in San Diego, California. He ended up staying in the area for twenty years, building another Marine Engineering business including a licensed vane manufacturer. In 2001, he sold up and returned to Port Lincoln South Australia, where the Fleming product continued to be further developed and manufactured, selling world wide – factory direct, until November 2007, when all the Fleming self steer designs, rights and tooling were sold to Phil George.
Phil had originally visited Port Lincoln with a view to purchase a 501 unit for his Van De Stadt steel yacht that he was sailing from Falmouth UK to Melbourne Australia. Having had engine failure and poor weather much of the Atlantic crossing, a wind vane became a must have! Phil, having spent thirty years in Mechanical Engineering, running his own design and manufacturing company and several world patents to his name, found these units of great interest. The timing was also good, as Kevin contemplated retirement, along came Phil, a new Australian looking to set up a business in the marine industry. An agreement reached, Fleming was sold, Phil built several units at the Port Lincoln facility then moved the business to the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia. Some design improvements have been made and production methods changed, with new concepts also being developed to integrate with some of the latest yacht steering systems. So here we are – FLEMING continues to be manufactured with new enthusiasm and some new exciting developments by an ocean sailor, yacht builder, engineer, inventor, artist, metal sculptor and Aussie! Phil, having come from a precision machine tool and fabrication design background, will introduce carefully an improved manufacturing process in line with ISO standards and general business ethic.
Over 40 Years in the making.