This page has pictures and info on the personalities in Open Boat sailing during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. More pictures and info will be regularly uploaded. If you have pictures or info you think are relevant to the site, including info on family and descendants, get in touch through the Open Boat Facebook page or email email@example.com
Group images first, alphabetical list of personalities below.
The crew of the Idothea, a 24-footer built by Bob Stevens in 1888 and sailed in its later years at the Balmain Amateur Sailing Club. See entry for Idothea on the 24-FOOTERS Page. The BASC was a relatively short-lived club that originated around 1900 and disappeared with the War in 1914. They mainly sailed older boats no longer in the first-class fleets, with limited sails, and crews were restricted to amateurs (it was really a class thing to exclude manual workers). The picture below is of the social side of the Club about the same time. Both pictures were sent to the current Balmain Sailing Club by David Dunkerley whose Grandmother was associated with the Club and is probably in the photo.
This is a crew photo of the Brisbane 18-footer Aberdare getting ready to defend their Australian title in Brisbane 1937-38. They had held the title for four years in a row before this from 1933-34 season. This time however they ended up 3rd to NSW's Billo Hayward in Malvina and fellow Queenslander Chick Ware in Betty II. But it was a great record in a legendary boat. For more details of the boat see Aberdare on the 18-Footers page on the menu. Charlie Swanson, Pat Cotter, Bill Pugh, Bill Keogh Billy Hill, Vic Vaughan (skipper), Fred Hart (owner), Tom Anderson, Arthur Frizelle Roy Kingston, Bert Pride.
A newspaper photo from the previous year sees some of the same men with their trophy. The photos were supplied by the descendants of Pat Cotter, shown in both photos. The family has also retained other memorabilia such as the blazer pocket and a badge shown below.
Queen of the Harbour Day in the 1930's. This photo comes from Christine George whose father Joe Wilkinson is the tallest head looking back. Joe was known to sail on Defiance in the 1930's and Dauntless in the 1940's, but this boat does not appear to be either of those. If it is Defiance, it must have been at a time when the name was not painted on the starboard side of the stern which is shown in other photos. Too many crew to be the later Dauntless. Photos of Defiance plus a brief history are now up on the 18-footers page on this site.
The World Champions in 1948 in Auckland, Billo Hayward and his crew in Crows Nest, built by Norman Wright Snr as Iris in 1946. George Pearce (furthest left) was the regular skipper in Sydney, but suggested Billo as the skipper for Auckland because of his experience there in 1939. More on this event in Robin Elliott's Galloping Ghosts, available at Boat Books. This photo goes with the crew photo a few photos down this page.
Chris Webb, the Donald Bradman (cricketer...for Yanks think Babe Ruth in baseball) of Australian sailing pictured at the tiller of the 18-footer Australian in 1907. This was the second Australian, built by Billy Golding and launched as Arline in 1903. This might be a posed shot as no water is visible, nor is there any other crew who would usually be jammed up on the rail beyond Webb. Eventually full details of Webb's career will appear on this site on his own page such was his influence on the sport. From Australian Town and Country Journal 24 January 1907, found on www.trove.nla.gov.au
This shot in the collection of the Sydney Flying Squadron is at the tail end of the period we cover, but it's interesting in that it shows Top Dog (IV) built by Tom Fisher in 1949 and Donnelly III built by Bill Miller for himself in 1953, still both batten-seam carvel-planked though the new boats by then were being laminated. Both have Bermudan masts which had taken over by then. Eighteens being rigged onshore all around the Harbour was a common sight since the earliest days and only ended when road trailers came in (and waterfront real estate got too expensive for boatsheds!). Joe Pearce was the skipper of Top Dog and is also seen just a few years earlier in the photo below as part of Billo Hayward's crew.
Here's the gentle faces of the crew of Crows Nest, winner of the World 18-Footers Championship in 1948 in Auckland. Top left is the only one unidentified in this print in the AHSSA collection. Someone pointed out that he resembles the Haywards. Next is George "Raw Meat" Pearce, his brother Joe Pearce, Jack Hayward, Len Cantwell (owner of the boat). In front Tom Hayward, Skinny Boland, skipper Billo Hayward, Frank Shepherd and Harry "Thunder" Kerslake. Billo and his sons were Botany Bay oyster farmers. The story goes that Billo walked around the oyster farm barefoot and was told by boat owners to wear shoes on the boat so he didn't scratch the varnish!
Three of the legends of 18 footer sailing in one photo: Mark Foy was a wealthy businessman who started the Sydney Flying Squadron and largely subsided the development of Open Boat sailing. Chris Webb is the Donald Bradman of Australian sailing, the best skipper of all time. George Press was a boat owner and builder, was Webb's sheet hand for many years and later skippered his own boats, all named H.C.Press after his father.
Chris Webb won his eighth Australian Championship in Perth in 1925 in George Press' H.C.Press II with this crew of regulars.He won again in 1926 in Sydney in the same boat. He switched to Keriki for the 1929 and 1930 contests. George Press steered H.C.Press II into second place in the 1930 contest.
Alphabetical List of Personalities Follows: Owners, skippers and officials. Boatbuilders, whom I consider the most important have their own Page (see Menu).
A leading skipper of the 19th Century. More to come.
Billy Duncan and his cousin W.T "Trappy" Duncan were rival skippers in the 1920's and '30's. More info on both men will be posted eventually.
Jim Firth was a skipper, boat owner and club official during a long career from the 1880's to the 1920's. More details can be found under the entry for his 18-footer Onda on the 18-Footers Page.
A well-respected club official and administrator. More to come.
Oswald Hahn was an owner-skipper in the 1920's and '30's. More info to follow.
George Holmes (Fletcher)
George Holmes was a legendary skipper in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. George always maintained he was an amateur as he held down a regular job on Cockatoo Island Dockyard, though he won a lot of prize money. He retired (from work and sailing) in December 1913, moved to the country, and died in October 1918. There will be a lot more information about him posted soon.
Billy Read (sometimes spelt Reid) was a leading skipper and all-round sportsman either side of the turn of the 20th Century. He died young. More info to follow.
Orlando (Lan) Taylor
Lan Taylor ran the Federal Boatsheds in Lavender Bay for many years. He owned and often skippered his 22 footer Keriki built by Sam Williams in 1898 until 1913 by which time it was the last 22-footer regularly sailing. He bought Norman Wright's 1919 eighteen footer Thelma III in 1920 and renamed her Keriki,and sailed her until the 1937-38 season.