Helen Gets a Facelift!

Those of us who were at the Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend at Cairn Curran last November will remember how wild it was on the Saturday afternoon. Ken Maynard took Australian Sailfish 600 Helen out for a romp before the racing started and once the race got underway was doing well in the extreme conditions.

But then he started to slow down and fell away to the back of the pack. After the race it became apparent that the deck had lifted at the join where it meets the bow, creating an opening that seemed determined to swallow as much of the reservoir as possible. So, more repairs required, and here is the current state of play:

Sailfish 600 Helen, with bow removed, but still with a lot of wood in there! [By Ken Maynard, Diamond Creek, May 2018]
To quote Ken “nothing some glue, screws, brackets and a new bit timber won’t fix.”

Stay tuned for updates.



Of Dollies & Cradles

(colour photographs by Royce Powe and Chris Cleary, text by Chris Cleary).

As we all know, the natural habitat of the Australian Sailfish is the water. On shore is a harsher environment, with threats to finely finished hull surfaces from rigging area grit and passing traffic. And the lift from rigging area to water, and vice versa, is also fraught, both for the boat in the event of an unexpected gust of wind, and for ageing baby boomer backs and knees. The transfer also requires a random passer-by agreeing to be press-ganged into providing the lift.

When I started out in dinghy sailing, most small dinghies were rigged on an old blanket thrown on the ground. The visiting Victorians at the 1971-72 National Titles showed me for the first time the value of a boat cradle, both for transporting the boat on roof racks and for rigging the boat on the beach. Many of the Victorians had the same style of cradle – quite long, and fabricated from metal.


w&c_bc cadet sailfish beach
Brian Carroll, Elwood, 1968 with one of the long Victorian cradles of the time. [Carroll family album]
I subsequently built a wooden cradle for my boat.

Over subsequent decades however, the beach dolly has become predominant as both the platform on which to rig a boat and the means by which it is transferred to the water. Made of aluminium or stainless steel, they can be happily immersed in water, making launching and retrieval a one-person job. And, very cleverly, boat dolly and boat can often be wheeled directly on and off a waiting boat trailer. For a craft pre-eminently suited to car-topping like the Sailfish, however, the beach dolly is less attractive – it will take up a prohibitive amount of room in the car.

A brilliantly improvised version of the beach dolly was unveiled to the Sailfish fraternity at the Toronto Amateur Sailing Club 4OAK Regatta in March of this year by Royce Powe. Astoundingly, Royce made the journey south to Lake Macquarie from Yeppoon in Queensland, a 3000 km round trip. He competed in the event in his lovely newly built ‘Woody’. She was rigged and transported to and from the water on Royce’s clever homemade dolly shown below.

Royce's dolly 2.JPG

Royce's dolly 1.JPG
When rigged, Woody can be securely tied to the arms of the dolly

As Royce describes, it was made from an old sailboard boom he had in his shed. There is some adjustment available in the overall length of the dolly. A length of alloy tube was used as an axle.


Royce's dolly 3.JPG

Royce's dolly 4

Royce carries ‘Woody’ upside down on roof racks attached to his ute. He throws the dolly in the tray of the ute. The dolly does, however, come apart, which would allow it to be accommodated in a station wagon. For a sedan, the arms of the dolly (the sailboard boom) would probably have to be carried on the roof with the boat.

Royce's dolly 5.JPG


In no way matching the ingenuity of Royce’s dolly, the cradle I built in the 1970’s has nevertheless given very good service. With the revival of activity in the Sailfish fraternity, I decided to build a new one, slightly remodelled to fit my current car, a Subaru Outback. Brian Carroll has the same vehicle and so used my simple plans to build one of his own. Greg Barwick, who doesn’t have an Outback, also built one for the restored ‘Stanley Crocodile’ to nestle upon.

The cradle plan is shown below. Some dimensions, notably the overall width and the notches for the roof racks on the sides, are specific to the Outback and will need to be altered for other vehicles. A peculiarity of the current Outback  model is that the rear roof cross bar is at a slightly lower level than the front one. I wasn’t aware of that initially, so my boat rode a little bow high until I closed the rear notches.

The timber used clearly doesn’t have to be meranti – Brian, I think, used pine.

Sailfish cradle 2.jpeg

My battered old cradle is shown below. It has been remodelled since this photograph was taken, and is now seeing service as the cradle for a newly built sailing canoe. Note the notches for mast (port side/on right of picture) and boom (starboard side). Because the end-grain is unsupported, the outer edges of the rear notches have long ago been chipped off.

Two lengths of tubular insulating foam (available from your local big box hardware store) are slit and placed over the V of the cross-pieces. I then cover the foam with carpet tacked to the frame.

Cradle 7 (2).JPG

This is the new cradle, colour-coordinated with the boat. Note the U-shaped ply reinforcing the mast notch to avoid the problem mentioned above. This is replicated at all four notches. The elliptical plaque (seen just below the chainplate) was required to control splitting in the timber which occurred soon after I got it home. This too was repeated at each end of both sides.

Cradle 2 (2).JPG

Cradle 1 (2).JPG

The triangular stiffening at corners is shown below. The brass cleat is one of four used for tying the cradle to the roof racks – not a convenient position but is dictated by the peculiarities of the Outback roof rack design.

Cradle 3 (2).JPG

Cradle 5.JPG

In an effort to replicate some of the benefits of a beach dolly, I’ve also fabricated an axle and wheels to strap onto the rear cross-piece of the cradle. It’s not as good as a proper dolly because I’m not so happy to fully immerse it – for a start, it won’t sink – but it gets the boat close to the shoreline and shortens the carry.

This is the underside of the structure:-

Chris' dolly 2

A length of galvanised tubing was bolted to timber with U-bolts to serve as an axle. Alloy tubing could also be used. The wheels are 25 cm in diameter, with pneumatic tyres. The timber can be a piece of pine, say 70 mm x 35 mm (I used 90 mmx 45 mm, but it doesn’t need to be that heavy). It was 118 cm long, but this will vary with the width of the cradle built.

This is the top view :-

Chris' dolly 1.jpg

There are simple wooden cleats that receive the outer portion of the rear cross-piece of the cradle. Shock cord then holds the components together. Note the aluminium strap on opposite sides of both ends of the dolly to prevent it capsizing around the axle when it is awaiting the placement of the cradle. They are then rotated out of the way.

Chris' dolly 6.jpg

Chris' dolly 4.jpg

All of this is quite easy to build, but it is nevertheless quite complicated in comparison to the brilliant simplicity of Royce’s wonderful piece of improvisation, which is very light, very strong and very easy to dismantle. Congratulations to him.








San Francisco Update

After a few delays caused by work, travel and the cool, damp winter that settles over San Francisco, Kellee is once again pushing ahead with her build. With the bottom going on the next step will be to turn the hull over and start to think about footstrap and traveller reinforcing block positions.

When it really starts to turn into a boat, always a great time in a build. [By Kellee Kimbro, San Francisco, 1 June 2018]
Lots, and lots, and lots of clamps makes things so much easier, and what build could go wrong when there are a couple of cases of beer involved! [By Kellee Kimbro, San Francisco, 1 June 2018]

CDCIW is coming

The 2018 Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend at Cairn Curran Sailing Club will be on the weekend of 24 & 25 November. Last year was the inaugural event and while there was a good turnout with plenty of interesting boats (and lots of Sailfish!) the weather was not kind. I am assured that the organising committee have had a word and it won’t happen again (probably).

We are expecting a range of different classes; so far we know we have a 1970’s 18 foot skiff, some Gwen 12’s, Vee Jays, a Moth, a Heavyweight Sharpie and a Javelin coming.  As well as our usual turnout  of Australian Sailfish, there are two new boats added to the Cairn Curran fleet courtesy of Craig Conn and Mark Teasdale. I am told there are also some new builds underway in the greater Cairn Curran area, so some more new boats will be exciting to see.

It is hoped that there will be a chance for skippers to try different classes on the Sunday morning as well, so this might be your big chance to try out an 18 foot skiff or a Javelin, or even an Australian Sailfish!

As more information becomes available I will be updating the blog. In the meantime the attached poster gives some information so you can start planning.

If you can’t bring your boat, bring your sailing gear!

Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend

Current Header Photo

A rare view of the website administrator, right way up and looking like he knows what he is doing. Ray Cross was very cross (ahahahahaha!) about my piece of string boom vang, which didn’t work all that well, but has now been replaced with a real vang.

The restored Stanley Crocodile at the 2018 Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta in January. The Stanley image on the bow was thanks to the kindness of Brad Ginnivan at Moreton Bay Signs and the photo was by Marion Chapman, Anderson’s Inlet, 26 January 2018.

Start the season at Eppalock

The Australian Sailfish are coming back to Lake Eppalock for the Bendigo Yacht Club Opening Day, October 6th 2018.

The 1974/75 National Titles were held there, and Bendigo Yacht Club also hosted a number of Victorian State Titles. Plus, it is the sailing home of Jack Carroll, plus it is where the surviving Title Shields are held and on display.

If you have your name on either the National Open Title or Victorian Open Title shields come along and have your photo taken with it/them. Even if you don’t, come along for a great day out, and a chance to catch up with old friends.

1974/75 National Titles. [By Jenny Browning, Lake Eppalock, Dec. 74/Jan. 75]
A great way to start the new season, say hello to Jack, thank Bendigo Yacht Club and get ready for a busy year of Regatta involvement.

Put the date in your calendar now and start to get the boat ready, it will be here before you know it.

I will post further updates as we get closer, so stay tuned.

Linger longer at Yarrawonga

Clearly, last weekend was a big weekend for the relaunching of recovered Australian Sailfish. Not only did Ogg hit the water in Queensland (see the report below) but the two ex Lake Boga boats, 3409 & 3411 took to the waves again at Yarrawonga. The new owners, Mark Teasdale and Craig Conn respectively, will be sailing from Cairn Curran Sailing Club.

Here in his own words, is a brief report from Craig:


Well firstly no breakages of either boat or skipper!! 

We did shake the boys up in the first race and I think we beat them all on handicap as I came in just behind the Impulses.  Mark was a little behind me at the end. 

We both had a great time and really enjoyed our nostalgic weekend and we are looking forward to later in the year at Cairn Curran for the wooden boat regatta.

We had people coming up to us all weekend asking what they were and where can we get one? And then we had the others that told us stories when they had one as a kid or their kids had one, its been an adventure. Both the boats went very well for the little amount of breeze we had.

 We did let everyone know where to find the sailfish website. Maybe we need to get some (more) t shirts made up for the Sailfish events.  Mark and I are keen to maybe do a couple of regattas over the next season. I think I need to work out some padding as its hard sailing the boat in light weather on the old body!! 

Moose on 3409 leads Craig on 3411. [By unknown, Yarrawonga, 30 April 2018]
The reception from the Yarrawonga is great to hear about, it was a regular spot for the Sailfish back in the early days of the Association, might have to make a trip up there for a sail one weekend.

And there are rumours of more Sailfish being built in the Cairn Curran area, we might get a fleet back there again after all these years!


Ogg gets wet!

Well it has been a little while, around 45 years for those of you who are counting, but Ogg is back on the water at her new home, Lake Samsonvale on the north side of Brisbane.

This weekend just gone Warwick turned up at the Lake Samsonvale Sailing Club, rigged up and headed out. Here is his report on the day:


“The kids had a learn to sail day with the club in the morning on Bic’s, then we all went out on Ogg.

My son and daughter both had a sail and skipper of Ogg and loved it.

Warwick and the crew, ready to head out. That is a lovely looking boat. [Norton Family album, Lake Samsonvale, 28 April 2018]
You will notice the rake has been minimised at the moment. I got under the boom reasonably easy so I will bring a bit of rake back.  Ogg went great.  Sail sets well and holds a good trim.  Not bad for 50 years old.

The guys at the club were inquisitive as to what it was.  The club vice commodore’s dad used to sail a ‘fish back in the day.  They were impressed as to how well it sailed.  Pretty good complement to the class considering they mostly sail Nacra cats.

I’m pretty happy with myself…..I didn’t capsize!!   Not much breeze though. 🙂

Now to see if I can still move tomorrow!”


I am wondering what the name of the club vice commodore is, it might be someone we recognise!

Warwick also made contact with Peter Williamson, a sailmaker from the Sunshine Coast who is in the throes of establishing an “Australian Scows & Lowrider Moths” website,  and Andrew Potter who is keeping busy restoring a Sailfish in Brisbane.

More photos can be seen in the Queensland Gallery, here Queensland Sailfish Gallery.



Bruce Scott – The other half of the team

Many of us who have been around the Australian Sailfish for a while know a bit about Jack Carroll’s involvement with designing the boat and the development of the class. But not all of us know that Jack was just one half of the team that brought our great little boat into being. The other half was Jack’s very good mate Bruce Scott.

When Chris Cleary and I sat down with Jack in September of 2016 to gather some of the class history that led to this website, Jack said that it was Bruce who turned up one day with some American sailing magazines that showed the Alcort Sailfish saying “this is what we need Jack, something like this”. From that discussion came the Australian Sailfish.

Peter Scott, Bruce Scott’s son, has supplied a bit of background about his dad, so here it is, with only minor editorial meddling from me:


I’ll note down a few thoughts that come to mind about dad:

I do recall dad describing his early days of sailing when he lived in Glenhuntly and towed his boat with his push bike from there to Elwood sailing club via North road and often having passersby help push his boat up the hill near Brighton Cemetery.  Trip one way is around 7 km  – quite the ride.

He accomplished so much in his life and whatever his interest changed to over the years he always took them to their limits. All of which always included all of the family.

His interest in sailing was always with improving designs and his craft as a signwriter had him doing the names on most of the yachts at whichever yacht club he was sailing from. Each one done with such detail and pride in his work.

His artwork also extended to detailing various models that are still within the Melbourne Museum. Donald Campbell’s Bluebird and a hot air balloon that had him painting with one hair on the brush to get the details are still there.

He also had a fascination with travelling around Australia, which took him away from sailing.

Filming and retracing the early explorers across Australia was his focus for many years. Little things like having the 4×4 customized to utilize any spare space to carry supplies, designing a bull bar made of car leaf springs to bounce any stray kangaroos off the front of the vehicle if needed.

There were also the modifications he did to our home to accommodate another interest – movies. In the early 70’s he knocked out walls and closed in the front veranda to build a home theatre complete with 30 real leather theatre seats salvaged from a theatre that had closed down. I recall having movie nights 3 to 4 nights a week where friends and their associated social groups would book a night. He actually managed to get movies before they came out in the city theatres!

Then came the years of self-sufficiency – moving to a country property in Neerim South mum and dad seemed to lead the way in the alternate lifestyle, conducting pottery days, shearing days, log cabin building days, wool spinning days  and so on.

Bruce & Jim
Bruce at Elwood beach. [Scott Family album, Elwood, late 1950’s]
Bruce also ran the very first Australian Sailfish National Titles held at Elwood in 1968/69 acting as Officer of the Day for the entire series and Jack still has Bruce’s detailed committee notes for that event.


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A national Titles heat at Narrabeen, probably 1971/72.

I can see 3000 Slipstream, Jack Carroll, 669 Stampede, Brian Carroll, 3077 Trebor II, Robert Jefferies, 1250 Bounty, Neil Bowles, 3100 GTK, Pat Carroll, 1496 Alvacore, Alex Cordukes, red and yellow tipped sail second from right, James Champion.

Who else can you recognise? Let me know and I will update the post.

Photo from the Bowles Family Album