Back to the ‘Rat – Ballarat Report

It was a great day on a lake many of us know all to well. We arrived to a strong Northerly which had eased to a good sailing breeze by midday and then proceeded to fade out as the afternoon wore on, just like the locals said it would. By the end of the day it was glassy patches and searching for catspaws to get about, and to get home!

I was there with Bruce! and with the as yet unrestored Stanley Crocodile, Jack Carroll was there bright and early, Chris Drury was there with Blowed if I Know, Ian Milton surprised us all by turning up from Narrabeen (!!!) with Apsu and then Ken O’Brien surprised everyone again, by turning up with his boat Cobra, 1808.

As well as the Sailfish, John Fairfax turned up with a stunningly restored VJ, there was a scow Moth, a Gwen 12, and as the day is a Lightweight Sharpie Regatta day, it seemed only right that two Heavyweight Sharpies turned up as well. So a good showing from the wooden boat brigade.

The interest in Sailfish in general from both young and old club members was most gratifying and the interest in Stanley in particular from the two Peters, Coburn and Flynn was great to see. Some of Peter C’s mates from the Lightweight Sharpie brigade were heard saying “did you sail one of these?” to Peter, only to have him respond, “Yeah, I sailed that one there”, it was great to see their surprise. Peter F was busy texting his brother Dan telling him he should have been there to see it. The young sailors were very interested, wanting to get their heads around how the Sailfish were sailed and wanting to have a go when we next visit. And then Peter Stuchbery bounced over as well, so it was very much like old times.

Ian rolled in, and for the second time in as many months I was lost for words (but not for long), this is becoming a habit! He had driven down for the weekend with Apsu in tow and was then heading back to Narrabeen on the Sunday. Chris and Ian have posed for the after shot from their 1979/80 spirited Title battle on Lake Wendouree, and both the before and after are in the Gallery.

Then there was Ken. Ken came down to Inverloch to have a look at what was going on, and as a result he got Cobra out from his mum’s garage. He has done a fantastic restoration job, check out the photos in the Gallery, and had his first sail on a Sailfish since 1972, and didn’t disgrace himself.

As well as the four of us sailing we had some interested onlookers as well, Mark Teasedale came to have a look, as did Michael (I think I have remembered the name right, my apologies if I haven’t) Thurlbeck, who used to live down the street from Jack in Mordialloc and sailed Sailfish 529 out of Parkdale.

And then we all headed home, a little bit tireder than when we set out, but all happy.

Next event, the 50th Anniversary Reunion of the founding of the NSW Sailfish Association at Narrabeen on 29th April. We seem to be awfully busy for a class that is supposed to be a bit dead!


2 thoughts on “Back to the ‘Rat – Ballarat Report

  1. It was fantastic to be out on the sailfish again. Thanks to all concerned for getting me inspired.
    Just for the record, my last outing was about 30 years ago. The 1972 date in the report is actually the year I bought it from Peter French. It was built by his father Bob. His brother Jim French is still a boatbuilder in Moorabbin. He builds fibre-glass pacers and carbon-fibre hydrofoil moths, and his son was also working there when I visited a few weeks ago.
    My friend Michael Thurlbeck (mentioned in the report) got so emotional to see the sailfish lined up again, that he actually had tears in his eyes.
    Incidentally, just before the Ballarat outing, I had a last minute panic purchase of a new slicker and buoyancy vest. Next objective is to fit into the old ones.


  2. Hi Greg, it was very heartwarming to see Stanley Croc after so many years. Thanks for visiting and sharing all those sailfish memories. As I followed Chris Drury up the windward leg watching him pick the shifts in my mind i had a flashback to the Nationals of 79/80. He was certainly worth following. I hope the visit will be a regular event, as to me the sailfish look at home on Lake Wendouree . Please, please can I have a sail next time? Peter Co.


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