A growing album of pictures of fleets of 18-footers and other Open Boats
All right, I know its not a fleet shot, but this photo of an unidentified West Australian 18-footer illustrates some of the difficulties of sailing these boats downwind in a strong breeze. Taken on the Swan River off Resolution Point in the early 1900's, the photo was supplied by WA Olympic veteran Andy White from a copy he has of the original in the Swan Yacht Club. They appear to be going dead downwind or a little by-the-lee, and not able to hoist a spinnaker (perhaps it is after a race). The third guy from the front appears to be holding the topping lift which is hauled on a bit to raise the boom, a technique often used in 18's to depower the sail in light stuff, but I've never tried it or seen it done in a strong breeze. It would make the boat even more unstable when running square. The forward-most guy seems to be holding a halyard, probably the peak halyard controlling the angle of the gaff, and the second guy is holding both ends of the peak head spinnaker halyards, probably in a vain attempt to stop the gaff from going too far forward which is also inherently unstable. They have put both lee-cloths up, which I have not seen before. If they survived this run they were very lucky.
Two unidentified 18-footers heading up Harbour on a light Sou'Easterly with squares'ls and ringtails in the 1890's. I'm guessing 18's because they don't look big enough to be 22's, and they're too big with too many crew to be 14's. And I'm saying 1890's because although the postcard was sent in 1907, squares'ls had died out before the end of the 1890's. Wouldn't it be nice if the Harbour was this empty today. From a postcard donated to the AHSSA by Peter Howes. The circle is not the Sun or the Moon, it's a pinhole in the card.
Caption on photo in the collection of the Sydney Flying Squadron tells it all. Cliff Monkhouse really has her going! One boat far left is having bit of trouble, and there is a crew in the water beyond the stern of Crows Nest. Can't tell you at this point if they survived, but hard Westerlies usually take their toll.
This photo from Dick Notley's collection shows Kismet with the Australian flag over to the left, and probably Life Saver in the centre. Launched as Golding in 1910, she became Life Saver in 1923. The spectator boat in the foreground is interesting. it has an engine but also a mast tabernacle and chainplates and a plumb stem and stern, and is batten-seam carvel-planked. I suggest it may be a retired 24-footer or 22-footer with its side decks removed, but it is possible it was a purpose-built motor launch.
Twenty-two-footer Esmerelda winning the Intercolonial Championship race in 1895 with Billy Read at the helm. Built in 1889 by James Hayes, Esmerelda showed occasional form but was superseded in the next few seasons by newer boats. The Intercolonial Championships ran from 1894 to 1899 alternately in Sydney and Brisbane, and involved not only the 22's which were the dominant class at the time, but also the up and coming eighteens, as well as in some years the fourteens and the ten-footers. After the Queenslanders were resoundingly beaten in 1899, they lost heart, the series lapsed, and the 22-footers began to die out, being replaced by the 18's. Esmerelda was laid up in October 1901. Brisbane was to come back in the sixteen foot skiffs and then in the eighteen-footers with a vengeance in the 1920's and '30's.
Twenty-two footers Figtree built by Robert Stephens in Pyrmont and Vigilant built by Billy Golding in Balmain, both in 1896 for the 1897 Intercolonial 22-footers Championship from which it is probable this picture was taken.
A fleet of 24-footers dousing squares'ls off Farm Cove. They may be getting ready to gybe around Fort Denison, or perhaps this is just after the finish line in an Anniversary Regatta in the mid-1890's. The central boat is Volunteer, built by Hubbards in Glebe Point in 1889, and the one to the left is Lady Duff built by Donnelly in 1893, who was at that time working in Woolloomooloo Bay, and was one of, or possibly the last racing 24 built. By 1889 the twenty-four footers had evolved the hull shapes and rigs that we would recognise in the eighteen-footers which began to appear about then. Intercolonial competition in the twenty-two foot class in the 1890's led to the demise of the twenty-four footers as the dominant class, and by the late 1890's they were mostly only appearing in races for boats with limited sails and crews. This picture may be one of the last images of the 24's with unrestricted sails and crews.
This example of a framed presentation is from the collection of the Sydney Flying Squadron and can be seen in their entrance hall. It shows the North Sydney Dingey Club's fleet of six foot dingies (some of them twice). The North Sydney Dingey Club held its first race in November 1899 for the newly invented six footers and ran well for a few years, faded a bit in 1905 but was revived in 1909. Surviving the sale of 6 boats (half its fleet) to the Solomon Islands in 1911 by building new boats, they also began to hold races for ten footers. The last six footer handicap mentioned was in February 1914, and the last ten footer handicap was in November 1914. They were young men's boats and unfortunately most of the young men were engaged elsewhere for the next few years. More in the Six-footers section.
Twenty-two footers Wonga (1896) and Vuna racing downwind. Vuna, owned by AC Roberts who later became the NSW Solicitor-General and had Charlie Dunn build him the 18-footer Desdemona in 1912 which he sailed until the early 1930's, is carrying a squares'l, Wonga is carrying a new-fangled spinnaker with a short yard at the head. This is before 1900 as Wonga was renamed Kelpie in that year.
Two of the greatest 22-footers racing with yard-headed spinnakers. Keriki was built by Sam Williams of Pyrmont in 1898 for Lan Taylor who sailed it up until 1913 by which time all the other 22's had stopped racing. Effie was built by Joe Donnelly of Glebe in 1896 and was the Intercolonial Champion in 1898 and 1899 and considered by many to be the best 22 footer ever. I can't find a record of her racing after 1904.
This shot of a fleet of six-footers is believed to be from the 1913-14 season or just before that, as it is from the North Sydney Dingey Club presentation frame pictured above. The Balmain Dingy Club and the North Sydney Dingy Club catered for these boats. The only one I can identify is Livonia in the middle, from the name on the tuck. Livonia is first mentioned in 1911 in a North Sydney Dingy Club race steered by A.Appleton. The group of six-footer photographs in the Six-Footer page on the Menu (look under More on the Menu bar) mostly came from a collection given to the AHSSA by the late Alf Appleton Junior one of the Association's early members. A.Appleton Snr had sold Livonia by the time this photograph was taken and sailed another named Rene. He was famous for being the only finisher in a hard blow in a Balmain DSC race in January 1919 when all of the other ten starters capsized. Rene's bumpkin snapped in the middle, and Appleton re-lashed the jib to the stub and finished the race.
The leading boat is Waratah, steered by W. Keddie who won the race (and the Championship..only one heat in those days). The others are hard to identify as there is a paucity of records of the sail insignias for the ten footers. The boat with the dark triangle with a white ball is probably Planet. Commonwealth represented Queensland, and Britannia (probably the boat on the far right) represented Western Australia. Neither was placed. See more in the page on Ten Footers (in the More section on the Menu above).
This crap photo shows Britannia and Planet possibly in the same race. Britannia was built in NSW in or before 1900 and spent most of its time racing in Newcastle where there was a fair fleet of ten footers in the first decade of the 20th Century. She travelled to Perth to represent NSW in 1911, was sold there and came back to Sydney to represent W.A. in 1912. She raced again in Newcastle later that same season and may have been sold back to NSW. Planet had a long career. Built probably by Charlie Dunn for Tom Cuneo in 1895, she was still racing in 1929.
When I first posted this photo I assumed wrongly that it was of the Balmain Dingy Sailing Club. In fact it is of the Brisbane Dingy Sailing Club, which was formed in the late 1890's and raced fleets of ten footers similar to the Sydney tens, and other dinghies of 12, 14 and 16 feet. The club broke up during the First World War. This photo appears to be mostly of ten footers, but perhaps there are some larger boats there.
A fleet of 18 footers in 1900, Stella(II) by Golding, Ira by W.Holmes, Australian by Sam Williams, Kyeewa by Edgar Dearing, Thalia by Golding and Donnelly by Donnelly. Just a couple of years after this the eighteens were the dominant class of Open Boat on the Harbour.
Kismet (Aus flag) and Hero (crescent) are approaching the Shark Island gybe mark in an 18 footers race about 1912-1914. The distant boat to the right is just striking her ringtail in preparation for the gybe, and Hero has lost the wind in her ringtail so is probably doing the same. Kismet has either already stowed hers or perhaps did not carry one on this run. You can see ringtails set on the replica fleet every Summer Saturday.
This programme photo is from 1924. Avalon was built by Charlie Dunn in Berry's Bay in 1922 for the King brothers and raced into the Second World War years. Mississippi was built as Admiral by Fred "Podge" Newton in 1913, became Mississippi in 1914, and after a long racing career survived as a launch into the 1980's but was unfortunately cut up without being measured. Furious was built by Tom Phillips in Balmain for Bob Gourlay in 1924 with a relatively narrow beam for the time of 7'3" and had no heel, being one of the experimental skiff-type boats that appeared occasionally during the big-beam era culminating in the huge changes that took place after the arrival of Aberdare in 1932.
This photo turned up on a garbage tip in Canada. The original Britannia is on the right, the next left is Mascotte, then I think Mississippi. Sometime in the early 1920's they are nearing the finish North of Clark Island, and won't it be a close one!
A great shot, if this was the final run it must have been a close finish, no info found yet on what day it was, must be early 1920's. Note the spinnakers set from the tops'l yards, and ringtails on two of the boats.
This is the third Australian, built by Golding in 1912. Kismet was also built in 1912, by Charlie and Billy Dunn. Both boats were still competitive in 1925. Kismet raced until 1940, and was owned by Dave Ravell, one of the men on the SFS Honour Roll from the First World War and features in the excellent book by Adrienne Jackson, Steve Scully and Veronica Scully Setting Sail for the Great War, available through the Sydney Flying Squadron.
These are 16 ft skiffs with their distinctive high-peaked gaffs. The rigs were restricted and so were almost identical, with little change from a little after 1901 when the class was established until the early 1950's. The hulls however had just stopped being built with a heel in the early 1920's, and both hulls and rigs here would not have been out of place for the next 25 years. Full details in the Open Boat book.
Arline and Australian about 1910-12.
Swastika leads from Kismet and Sydney. Star symbol is on Caledonia, the first 18 to try a skiff-type rig. Early 1920's.
Enid leads Advance and Moyana, says the pencil on the back of the postcard, 1914.
Mavis at right, then Desdemona and Enid, 1912-14. Looks like a second-rig day. New horizontal-cut main on Mavis was uncommon in 18's at the time.
Sydney (red anchor) leads the start of the SFS Championship race in 1923 from Lifesaver (ex-Golding 1910). Mavis is closest to the camera. Britannia (Red Duster) who eventually finished second is beyond Mavis. One of the boats with a diamond symbol is Arline, the eventual winner.
The start of the Mark Foy Challenge Cup race, Saturday 18 January 1913, the de facto Australian 18' Championship. Westana (W.A.) who finished second leads Kismet (NSW) the eventual winner. Pastime (NSW)displays the horseshoe, Colonial (Qld) far left. All eight entries are in the shot. Only four boats finished in a freshening Nor'Easter, the other four all suffering gear damage including a snapped mast (Vanity, Qld). The hull lines of Norman Wright Snr-built Vanity are reproduced in The Open Boat book.
Left to right, Advance, Nimrod and Sydney, 1914 or just after. Close finish coming up!
This photograph would have been take in the late 1890's and shows a race between some of the twenty-two footers that were the dominant class then.. The contrast between the old and the new downwind extras is striking, the Donnelly-built Effie (Crescent insignia) and Vigilant further back holding on to the old Squares'l with raffee above, and the unidentified leadersetting a jib-headed spinnaker which was the latest thing. There are other photos of an intermediate type that some boats carried, a spinnaker with a short curved spar at the head. Notice both the raffle and the spinnaker are hauled to the peak of the tops'l jackyard well higher than the mast. The halyard was taken aft and belayed at the tuck.
Most of the above programmes and postcards were collected by the late Graeme (Fergie) Ferguson who is greatly missed.