From the mid 1970’s through to well into the 80’s Toronto Amateur Sailing Club became a strong centre of the Australian Sailfish in New South Wales. While many people contributed to this, I think it is fair to say that the genesis was Tony Bytheway, who built and then loaned many of the boats that got people sailing. When he wasn’t doing that he was helping others build their own boats – almost the Ray Cross of the northern state, when I think about it.
Here, in Tony’s own words, is the story of many of those boats:
1225. My very first set of Sailfish plans I bought as a youngster. It was many years later before I finally got around to building a ‘Fish and by then those plans had been “misplaced”.
I found page one, with the number on, just last year whilst searching through some sailing paraphernalia looking for some Sailfish souvenirs. I’m keeping that number; I’ve asked Jack to make up a numberplate for me and I’m going to nail it to one of these half finished boats in my collection. Was maybe thinking of calling it “Resurgence” in honour of our class making a bit of a come back.
My second choice for a name is one I’ve had in mind for many years and was reminded of it after watching Ian Urban getting the feel of “Bruce” at Toronto 4oak – “Slippery when Wet”. I have a lot of boats in my collection so I’ll probably use both names somewhere.
2143 – “Sherwood Green”. The first Sailfish I ever built. Sailed it for a year then loaned it to Graeme Remington for the next year after I’d built my second ‘Fish, 1476. “Sherwood Green” was sold to Chris Turton who sailed it for a year or so and then sold it on to parts unknown.
1476 – “Steam & Fly”. “Steam & Fly” was sold to one of Chris Turton’s friends who sailed it for a year and wrecked it, the remains of the hull is part of my collection, the rest of “Steam & Fly” was lost decades ago.
The next year I was issued a block of five numbers on behalf of the Toronto club as there was a fair bit of building going on.
2161. A young lad by the name Ben Durie started building a ‘Fish after school with some guidance from me and with materials he bought through me. He lost interest about halfway through the build and added school pressure didn’t help either. He gave the lot back to me with the arrangement that when I finished the boat and sold it I would repay him for what he’d spent on the materials. That boat is still part of my collection, unfinished. Unfortunately Ben passed away from cancer in his mid forties. When I finish his boat I’ll name it “Little Ben”
2162. Another incomplete ‘Fish in my collection. (I’ll get to it one day, I just gotta live long enough!).
2163 – “Bluefin”. The boat I built after selling “Steam & Fly”. I sailed it for a season or so but it was badly injured during a championship series at Toronto. “Bluefin” was hit by a houseboat during the morning heat which must have softened it up a bit. Then dropping off a big wave whilst gybing during pre start tactics in the afternoon, the hull split from nose block to centreboard case and swallowed half the lake. I sailed it gently back to shore as a submarine. It now lounges in my shed with all its friends.
2164 – “The Licorice Stick”. Many of us know this one! Built by a pen pusher (Tony’s good mate Graeme Remington – Greg), it was his first attempt at building a boat. He then painted it his favourite colour (black) and went out and thrashed us all two years in a row. (Graeme won the National Title two years running, first at Toronto in 1980/81 and then at Lake Mokoan in 1981/82 – Greg). “The Licorice Stick” is still lurking in a shed somewhere in the Castlemaine area.
2165 – “Jim”. My first prototype fibreglass Sailfish. For the life of me I cannot remember who I sold it to or where it ended up.
2172 – “Silver Stream”. Ian (Nobby) Naylor. Another after school project. Sailed quite successfully at club level at Toronto. Was stolen from the Toronto Amateur Sailing Club clubhouse one winter in the mid 80’s. Hasn’t been seen or heard of since.
2173 – “Matrix” Sailed by Mike Turton. (Chris’s younger brother). This boat was originally found in an old farm shed up the Hunter valley, rigged with a cadet rig of some sort because Mike was a scrawny little bugger, then registered through the Toronto club. Whereabouts unknown.
Tony also has the only known surviving mould to build a fibreglass Australian Sailfish from and as you can never have too many Sailfish, he has also recently added the Geelong boat, 3111, that was advertised on the site last year, to his collection.
So there you have it, Tony’s not inconsiderable contribution to the history of the NSW Sailfish Association and sailing in the Toronto area. A careful read of the above reveals that Tony has many part built or part restored Sailfish in his collection but what he doesn’t have is the space to work on them. It would be great if someone had some space for Tony to start the restoration work, some of these boats are classics.