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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Orlando (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.