Ben Castle has crossed the bar

The sad news has reached us that Ben Castle died January 17, 2018 at Mona Vale, NSW after a long illness.

Ben was a major figure in the history of the Australian Sailfish Class Owners Association and an important figure in the history of sailing at Narrabeen Lakes in Sydney.

On April 24, 1967, the meeting to establish the NSW Division of the Australian Sailfish Association was held at Ben’s home on Collaroy Plateau. Ben was the powerhouse behind this new division. He became its first president and publicity officer. He was also a key figure in the re-activation of Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club (NLSC), which occurred at the same time as the formation of the NSW Sailfish Division. The Australian Sailfish was the class of boat around which the club was re-formed.

Ben Castle, WSC Sail School Jan '80.jpg
Ben at the WSC Sailing School in 1980.

Ben subsequently organised and competed in the first National Sailfish Titles to be conducted on Narrabeen Lakes. That was in 1969/70, and he competed on his home-built Sailfish, “Gus”, sail number 1414. He also organised the following two National Titles sailed on Narrabeen Lakes, and was an advisor to the Race Committee for the titles after that, in 1975/76.

Ben was president of Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club from 1967 to 1972. In 1968, Ben was one of a number of members who loaned the monies to purchase the old Green Boatshed on The Esplanade, Narrabeen, which subsequently served for many years as the storage facility for start/rescue craft, equipment and a few member boats. Ben also contributed to the lobbying of Warringah Shire Council for approval and funds for the building of the current clubhouse. For his services to Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club, Ben, in 1970, was awarded a Life Membership.

Ben’s interest in competitive sailing extended well beyond Sailfish however. He raced in 16 ft Skiffs, Fireballs, VJ’s, Moths, and keelboats in the Junior Off-Shore Group (JOG). He served as Chairman of the unlikely sounding Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club Offshore Division, which competed in a series run by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in the early 1970’s.

Ben on laser 2001.jpg
Ben showing how it should be done, even in a Laser. [Castle family album]
Ben was a Health and Building Inspector with the Warringah Shire Council. With his friend, Noel Hall, he formed the Warringah Shire Council Sailing School in 1978. It ran from Jamieson Park, the home of NLSC, up until 1996. Ben was Principal Instructor. He employed a number of the now-ageing NSW Sailfish brigade as instructors over the years – many of us had the most wonderful summer holiday job for several years.

Ben Castle will be remembered by sailors in and beyond the Sailfish fraternity as an athletic, energetic and enthusiastic man, full of ideas and optimism and restless drive. Those of us associated with the Sailfish class generally, and with Narrabeen Lakes sailing specifically, owe him a very great deal.

Ben, centre, straw hat on his knee, at the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the NSW Sailfish Association, with just a few of the people whose lives he influenced.

It was an enormous privilege, therefore, to have Ben attend our NSW Class Reunion in April last year at Narrabeen Lakes, on the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the NSW Division. It gave us all great pleasure to welcome him and thank him, and his attendance that day is a major highlight of the Sailfish ‘revival’. We are very grateful to Ben’s partner, Marjorie, for her generosity in making the arrangements that allowed Ben to attend.

The Sailfish fraternity extends our condolences to Marjorie, and Ben’s wider family and friends, for their loss upon the death of Ben.


Ben Castle in 1999. [Castle family album]


[The Australian Sailfish website gratefully acknowledges the research and documentation of the history of NSW Sailfish and Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club by Ian Milton, and its value in preparing this post].


Toronto – Notice of Race

The Entry Form and Notice of Race are up on the Toronto Amateur Sailing Club website, follow the link below:

Toronto 4oak Regatta NoR

Note that there is a typo on the Entry Form, but that the correct dates are 17th and 18th of March.

Here is a taste of National Titles gone by at the Toronto Amateur Sailing Club, just to get you fired up.

Regattas for Everyone

Well, March looks like it must be Regatta month.

You might want to attend one, or two, or maybe even three over three weeks, but pretty well wherever you are in Victoria or New South Wales, there is a Regatta to go to.

In date order:

The Paynesville Classic Boat Rally – March 3 & 4, Paynesville Victoria. A celebration of the boating history of the Gippsland Lakes.

Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong – March 10 to 12, Geelong Victoria. Definitely one for the wooden boat fanatic, from very small to very large there will be a wooden boat to be admired.

Toronto Annual Four of a Kind Regatta – March 17 & 18, Toronto, NSW. This is a chance for the NSW Australian Sailfish mob to get back together again, and not all that far from where many of you now live.


So if you want to take along your Sailfish to any or all of these, Google the above names to find out more, or contact the website.

Sailfish 150 is back on the water!

This story started in March last year, although I guess you could say it started in the early 1960’s. But a boat that has been hidden away for over 50 years in North East Victoria is out and about again. To read all about the story of the find and the restore and to check out some pictures as well go to the Gallery/Restorations/Sailfish 150.



Toronto 4OAK is less than 7 weeks away!

Do you recognise yourself in this photo?

FleetStart_TorontoSailfishNats copy

What about in this one?


Recovered from the weekend at Inverloch yet? No? Yes?

Then it is time to start preparing for the Toronto Amateur Sailing Club 4 of a Kind Regatta on March 17 and 18.

Toronto Amateur Sailing Club has been advised that we will be turning up and have indicated that if we have the numbers we can run as our own division.   This is a great chance for all of us from the Narrabeen, Nepean and Toronto clubs to catch up, as I know that many of the Sailfish sailors from those days have moved to the greater central coast area.

As I mentioned in the last post on this, I am bringing up two boats, and I hope that if anyone else has a spare that they will bring that along as well. Toronto was a big part of the NSWSA history in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s and it will be great get together to catch up again and to acknowledge this part of our history.

As I mentioned, I will be coming up from Melbourne with Bruce! and Stanley Crocodile, Brian Carroll is coming with Jack’s Toy, his new build, and he might even be bringing Jack Carroll with him. Ken O’Brien (1808, Cobra) hopes to be able to make it, and we hope that Graeme Remington will be sailing along with Chris Cleary,  plus there is a good chance that Ian Milton, Chris Leyland and John Dowzard will be on the water as well.

Accommodation options are plentiful if a bit scattered, although that won’t matter for those of you who live there. Those of us who are travelling in might want to start looking around as we won’t be allowed to camp at the sailing club like we used to.

Get the boat out, and get ready, if you can think of anyone you know that was around in the day and might be interested give them a call and let them know.

Come for an hour, come for a day or come for the whole weekend, but come along, if only to scare and embarrass your kids!


First News from the 2018 ICWDR

There will be a full report on the Regatta as soon as I can get it written up and posted, but in the meantime . . . . .

We had two boats in the display. One was Jack Carroll’s first boat, Debonair, number 2  and the other was Leigh Marriott’s boat, Mrs Vicious, 1375, winner of the first National Titles. Even with the late withdrawal of Chris Cleary due to injury there were still ten Australian Sailfish competing in the Regatta itself, with visitors from Sydney and across Victoria, which made us (just) the largest class there for the second year in a row.

Our land based crew consisted of a few famous names from the past including Brett and Hayden Ramsdale who were both there over the Friday and the Saturday. We have some great photos already, with many more still to come and yes, this is a hint, I would love to see your photos of the weekend for posting on the website.

And of course, Jack was there, looking very happy and really enjoying seeing all those funny little boats out and about again.

We may never know which Sailfish won the Friday Invitation Race, there was some confusion with a few doing the set four laps and getting the bell and a few doing five before they got the bell, plus a few retirements due to damage or just being tuckered out. The wind peaked at 17 knots at the far end of the course where we had a tide running against the breeze, which made things a bit interesting. What we do know for sure is that Brian Carroll won the Regatta Race on Saturday with Peter Chapman second and Ian Milton third.

Well done to everyone who was able to come along, it made for a terrific weekend.

Current Header Photo

Nope, not sailing in the Sahara on the banks of the Nile, it is in fact the 2018 Inverloch  Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta, Regatta Race on Saturday the 27th of January.

Emma Milton, 2192, Apsu leads Ian Milton, 2028, Bruce!, Ken O’Brien, 1808, Cobra, Ken Maynard, 3334, Gonzo the Great and Greg Barwick on 3250, Stanley Crocodile.

Don’t panic, this is the first many, very many photos of the Regatta that will be posted in the next few weeks, so keep checking back for this and a full race report still to come.

Photo by Vicky Booth, Inverloch, 27 January 2018.

Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta Checklist

Here it is, the definitive Australian Sailfish ICWDR checklist, except for the stuff I have left out or forgotten of course:

  • Boat.
  • Associated boat bits.
  • Sailing gear.
  • Sunscreen and hat.
  • Regatta entry form.
  • Accommodation.
  • Phone and/or camera for those fantastic shots to see up on the website.
  • Let know if you are coming to the Friday night Indian meal or not.
  • Booking for Regatta Dinner at the RACV Inverloch Resort on Saturday night.


And on that last topic, this is just in from Jeff at Inverloch on Tuesday afternoon:

Re the Inverloch regatta, if you want to go to the Saturday night dinner at the RACV resort you’d better look sharp. Places are definitely limited and filling fast. Early registration by email or post would have allowed us to increase places as it’s a contract job, unfilled places have to be paid for by the regatta.
Weather forecast is 39c in Melbourne for the weekend, though down there it will be cooler, and there is always the river to jump in. Look forward to seeing you all.

So if you haven’t booked yet for Saturday night you might want to get cracking!

If you’re going to San Francisco . . .

Yeah, I know it was corny, but how could I resist?

In August last year we sent a plan to San Francisco. Kellee has been in touch a couple of times for advice and information and has now started  building. You can follow the progress on her blog here:

San Francisco Australian Sailfish Build

Don’t be scared off by the sight of an Alcort Sailfish in Kellee’s first post, that is where her journey started, so it does belong there. But when you look a bit deeper, there is Brian Carroll on Jack’s Toy.

Really looking forward to seeing the finished product out on the water.