A great shot of Blue Peter, a ten-footer owned and steered by Laurie Blake for several seasons in the mid- to late-1930's. The boat was generally a long marker in the handicaps, and they seem to have their work cut out for them here. They may or may not have survived this nose dive. If the bow had popped out, the man standing on the rudder would have had to leap back into the boat or they would have capsized by the stern. How do I know? We've done it on the replica tens!
The ten footers first appeared at the Balmain Regatta in 1887, when they were canvas boats, that is, canvas stretched over a wooden framework and painted for waterproofing, and the crews were restricted to youths. The age limit disappeared in the late 1890's, and all-wooden boats began to appear by then. By the turn of the century the competitive boats were all of batten-seam carvel construction like all the other classes discussed here. They became established in the mid 1890's in Brisbane and the early 1900's in Newcastle and Perth, and the first National Championship was held as far as I can tell in 1905-06 but interstate competition between Queensland and NSW had been happening annually since the mid-1890's. They stopped racing with the outbreak of the First World War, and though numbers fluctuated they resumed in the early 1920's and continued through the 1920's and 1930's and into the 1940's. I haven't yet determined the last race, but it was sometime before the end of the war. The ten-footers had a crew of four or five and carried every sail the bigger boats carried, including tops'l, balloon jibs, spinnakers, ringtails and watersails. They were difficult to sail and were considered a great training ground for the larger classes. The Australian Historical Sailing Skiff Association built and raced a number of ten footer replicas from the early 1990's and the fleet still races in Sydney, Lake Macquarie and Brisbane.
Ada is first seen in coming second to Iduna (see below) in the December 1905 Interstate 10 footer Championship. She was owned and sailed by G.Crouch who won the Interstates again in 1907 and in 1909. She was occasionally steered by Norman Wright. Crouch raced Ada until 1914, after which the ten footers folded in Brisbane.
Builder: Norman Wright Senior, Bulimba, Brisbane Known dimensions:Length 10', beam 6', depth 2'.The original half-model still exists in the care of the Wright family, and a lines plan was drawn off the model by Norm Wright Jnr and a copy is in the archives of the AHSSA. Robert Tearne and Graeme Ferguson built a replica in the early 1990's which still occasionally sails. Sails: Main hoist 13'9", gaff 11'10",foot 19'6", leech 24'6", area about 280 sq ft. Jib luff 22", foot 14'10", leech 15'5", about 110 sq ft. Commonwealth was built in 1906 from a cedar log that floated past the Wright's Bulimba shed in a flood. She was a winner straight away, winning a Championship according to Norm Wright Jnr on the day she was launched, and was Queensland Champion for most of the next few years. She visited Sydney in 1912 for the Australian Championship but was unplaced. She continued to race successfully in Brisbane and was the Australian Champion in 1914, but the Brisbane 10 footers ceased racing in the First World War. Commonwealth was sold to G.Conway in Sydney in 1924. She won the Balmain Regatta that year, won the Australia Day Regatta early in 1925, and was the Port Jackson Champion 1925-26. She continued to race successfully until the early 1930's. The photograph above shows her with crew of 5 charging upwind past Ball's Head off Balmain in the mid-1920's.
Builder: Ken Morrow for himself. New in October 1930 Eileen was often the scratch boat at the Balmain Dinghy Club and was State Champion in the 1931-32 season. Ken Morrow sold her to E.Ellis in the 1934-35 season and sailed other ten footers including the Robinson-built Jean and another he built himself named Unique. Ellis was quite successful in her also. She appears to have sailed last in the 1940-41 season. Ken Morrow went on to be big in 12-footers and 16-footers.
Builder: Waterhouse Insignia: AUSN flag (Red upper and lower, blue left and right, white cross). Horrie worked as a sailmaker for the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company. Steered by Horrie Balkwell, later a legend in 18 footers, Gerard was a very successful boat from 1928 until the late 1930's, racing with the Balmain Dingy Sailing Club. Horrie won the Balmain Club's Championship in 1928-29 and the State Championship in 1929-30 and 1934-35. She was taken over by T.Young Jnr before the 1937-38 season. In this photo they have just picked up a Championship ribbon from the spectator ferry. Horrie's son Ron Balkwell, also an 18 footer legend was convinced that his father never smoked, but hey!
Iduna appears to have been built in Brisbane in 1899 or 1900 and came to Sydney to compete in the 1901 Interstates and appears to have stayed, as she was the Balmain Dingy Sailing Club's Champion in 1901-02 under skipper G.Klaassen. Often seen racing also in Newcastle she was also the Balmain Champion in 1904-05, and Australian Champion in 1905-06. She was still racing in 1907 but I haven't yet traced her after that. Photo on the right shows her with ringtail and watersail.
Not much is yet known about Irene other than that she was the Brisbane Dingy Sailing Club Champion in 1912-13 and 1913-14. An Irene is heard of racing in Sydney under Harry McGoogan in 1936-37 but this may be a different boat.
Builder: Wee Georgie Robinson Wee Georgie built Jean for a Mr McFarlane and occasionally sailed it for him, including winning the NSW title in February 1930. It was often the scratch boat of the Balmain Dinghy Club fleet. McFarlane got others to sail it as well including another Balmain footballer Tony Russell and an H.Price. Ken Morrow sailed it in the 1936-37 season and may have owned it, and Horrie Balkwell sailed it in the 1937-38 and 1938-39 seasons. Its last season appears to be that of 1940-41, the last season of the Balmain club.
Builder:Mr Gilroy, said to have built several other dinghies. She was owned by Billy Ahern, but sailed until at least 1913 by P.Harry, known as "Chiddy". Sail Insignia: Square divided into two blue and two red triangles. Myra is first reported starting off scratch in a fleet of 12 with the Prince Alfred Yacht club in October 1908 skippered by P.Harry. She raced with the Lane Cove 10-footers and the Balmain Dingy Club also in those years, and was Interstate Champion in 1909 (against Queensland and Western Australia. Irene and Commonwealth (see entries alphabetically were second and third). She continued to race until the ten-footers paused for the War, and several other skippers appear from 1913, including G.Drysdale and R.Glennon. She may have gone to Perth in 1916 but that is probably a different Myra. The original owner Billy Ahern was killed at Gallipoli in 1915. Racing resumed after the war, and Myra was the NSW State Champion in 1920. She travelled to Perth for the Australian titles in 1922 and was burnt in the same fire that destroyed local 18-Footer Mele Bilo (see Page on WA 18-Footers on Menu), along with 6 other ten footers including several Sydney and Brisbane boats. Another ten foot Myra raced with Balmain 10 Foot Dinghy Sailing Club 1938-38 but this is a different boat. The photo is from a framed presentation piece preserved by the Sydney Flying Squadron and purchased at a de-accession auction by the moderator of this site.
Builder: believed to be Edgar Dearing (or possibly Charlie Dunn) for Tom Cuneo. Known Measurements: 5' beam, 23" deep, nearly 6" spring in keel. Sail Insignia: Red triangle, white ball. Tom Cuneo raced Planet until about 1901-02 and probably then sold her as in the next few seasons there were a number of different skippers including A Maurice who had her as the scratch boat at the Sydney Dinghy Club in 1905, and L.Clarke. She is seen racing in Newcastle under W.Keddie about 1912. Sold in 1917 to R.Bartley for 20pounds, she won 40 prizes 19-17-1919, when she was sold again. Raced at the Gosford Regatta in 1924, and raced with the Balmain Dinghy Club in the 1924-5 season. She was third in the Balmain Dinghy Club Championship under 18' skipper George Robinson in December 1929, to Gerard (H.Balkwell) and Cornstalk (Chook Fraser) and was described as a thirty-year-old boat. Last report I can find is of C.Garraty winning the NSW Championship in Planet in February 1930. This photo was supplied by Keith Willis from the U.K. who found it in his father's things. To Keith's knowledge his father had never been to Sydney, but it is clearly Sydney Harbour in the background.
Tam o'Shanter 1890
Builder: Unknown, but possibly owner Peter Cowie himself. She was a canvas 10-footer (as they all were in 1890), with the canvas stretched over a framework of ribs and cheap timber planks that generally had up to 1" (25mm) gaps between them. The canvas was painted to waterproof it. Full-details and a diagram in The Open Boat book. Photos supplied by Peter S.Cowie, great-grandson of the original owner, also Peter Cowie, who had Donnelly build him the 18-footer Scot in 1906 (see 18-FOOTERS PAGE on menu). The first picture has the inscription "Tam o'Shanter off Goat Island, 1890". The others are later, the second picture appears to be at a Balmain Regatta, and the third is down Harbour. The first record we can find of her racing is in the Double Bay Regatta of 31 October 1891, when the skipper was 19, and was unplaced, but if the note on the first photograph from 1890 is correct she must have been sailing the season before. The boat was unplaced in most of her recorded early outings in Regattas and with the Johnstones Bay Sailing Club, but Peter Cowie was beginning to show some real skill by the mid-1890's when the boat begins to feature in the prize lists and is on scratch or close to it with the JBSC. His most notable win was the Sydney Dingy Club 10-Footers Championship in December 1897, aged 24, and he collected prize money of 3 pounds 10 shillings, the equivalent Peter S. Cowie says of about $3000 today. He raced Tam o'Shanter until October 1899 but he had already launched the fourteen-footer Cutty Sark in early 1899 and was campaigning both at the same time. The boat was still racing in 1910 at the Balmain Dingy Club skippered by L.Bamford. Peter's father William had emigrated from Scotland when Peter was a small boy, and all his boat names had a connection with Scotland. A Page on the Fourteens will eventually find its way onto this site, along with more stuff from the Cowie family who were a very significant family with members sailing at a highly competitive level in Sydney's open boats for three generations.