This section will contain images and info related to the features and peculiarities of Australian Open Boat rigs 1850-1950.
Even the 10-footers carried watersails. Postcard in AHSSA collection.
Eighteen footer Ariel, built by Joe Donnelly in 1894 (his first 18 footer) which makes her one of the earliest of the class that was emerging in the early 1890's. She was built for owner Mr C.H.Gorrick from Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney and did most of her racing in general fleets there, but regularly came down to Sydney for special events,and in most of those events was steered by the legendary boatbuilder and skipper George Ellis (see under Boatbuilders). This photo appears to be from the Balmain Regatta, which Ariel is reported as entering in 1894, 1895 and 1899. A light westerly is blowing her along the Balmain/Birchgrove shore under squares'l and a balloon jib (not clearly seen but the working jib is down, stowed on the bumpkin, bowsprit for anybody other than skiffies), so this has to be 1894. Notice on the squares'l yard is a stopped raffee. See Aztec under alphabetical list of Eighteen Footers and the photo below of 22 footer Vigilant for shots of a raffee, a sort of square tops'l set from the jackyard of the jackyard tops'l and sheeted on the windward half of the squares'l yard. When we started the Australian Historical Sailing Skiff Association in the early 1990's there were blokes still alive who had sailed gaff-rigged open boats, but nobody left who had set a squares'l or raffee. So its interesting to see that they sometimes sent them up in stops. Whether they went up with the squares'l yard or could be hoisted independently is something we have to puzzle over. Both squares'l and raffees were discontinued when spinnakers came into use in the late 1890's. Incidentally Ariel won the race, the first of many in a shortish career which seems to end in 1899.
The 22 footer Vigilant, built in 1896 by Billy Golding in Balmain for a "syndicate of 20 young fellows". On a very light day she is carrying a squares'l with raffee above set from the jackyard tops'l, a ringtail set from the peak of the gaff and the end of the boom extending the sail area of the main out from the leech, and a very large balloon jib set from the end of the bumpkin (the spar that others might call a bowsprit). For the full story of these sails and why we call it a bumpkin and not a bowsprit, you'll have to read the Open Boat book, out soon!