A taste of things to come

Just a few photos from the 2017 Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta, to get you in the mood.



[All the above photos were taken by Marion Chapman at the 2017 ICWDR, January 26 and 27 2017.]



[And all of these photos were taken by Tim Wilson at the 2017 ICWDR, January 26 and  27 2017.]

So it easy to see what a great venue it is, and it is now just seven weeks away(!), I hope to see you there.


Geelong boat has a new home

While he was in Victoria for the inaugural Classic Dinghy Invitation Weekend at Cairn Curran, Chris Cleary took the time to pop down to Geelong for a closer inspection of the Sailfish that was on our Classifieds page.

He came, he saw, he bought. 3111 is the number, but with no name that we can find, and we have no other knowledge of the boat at this stage. It is on its way back to Lake Macquarie and into the hands of Tony Bytheway, which is a name many of us know well.

If any of you out there know anything more about 3111 we would love to hear from you, Tony in particular wants to be able to put together a bit of the boats history. So shake out the dustier sections of your memories and get in touch!

The 2018 ICWDR is just eight weeks away

Yep, that’s right, just eight weeks until the 2018 Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta comes around again on the Australia Day long weekend. Last year we wildly exceeded our highest hopes when there were eleven Australian Sailfish there, two locals and nine out-of-towners, including three from NSW.



This year we hope to at the very least match, and maybe even beat, that number. As well as the local boats, number 2 Debonair & 1870 ‘Off, Brian Carroll will be there with his shiny new boat, Jack’s Toy. I will be there with Bruce! and the recently restored Stanley Crocodile. From NSW we know that Chris Cleary and Peter Chapman will be there, and we are pretty sure that Ian Milton will be coming as well. We also know of another three boats that are definitely coming and a few that might be coming, and we really hope they will all turn up for the weekend.



Mrs Vicious, winner of the very first Australian Sailfish National Title, will be in attendance as well, on display in the Stadium, the hall next to the library on A’beckett Street.

As any of us who were there this year can tell you, the venue is brilliant, the club is fantastic and there is plenty to see and do on and off the water.





So come on, get the boat out, book some accommodation and come along. If you find you are without a Sailfish at the moment, come down for a day visit, it’s not that far from Melbourne, catch up with some old friends and maybe even make some new ones.

I look forward to seeing lots of you there, very soon!

Cairn Curran Report

For the very first Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend we had a great venue, a welcoming and accommodating club and it just a real shame that the weather was not on our side.

On Saturday morning we arrived at the Cairn Curran Sailing Club where the Flying Dutchman class was already setting up for their State Titles. As well as the FDs, we had a sail training day going on for the club and a club race scheduled for the afternoon. For the Classic Dinghy Invitation Weekend there were a couple of VJs, a Gwen 12 all the way from South Australia, a mouldie Moth plus a few others and in the end eleven Australian Sailfish, but only eight skippers. Jack had brought along Glasshopper, a composite boat with a fibreglass hull and a ply deck, and I had brought along Bruce!, Stanley Crocodile and Mrs Vicious, with the hope that a local or two might have wanted to have a sail.

There was thunderstorm activity going on in the area, with some action to the north and a large cell sitting south of the lake for much of the day. During the morning the wind backed from the north around to the west and maybe even south of that before swinging back to the north and coming in strong. At the clubhouse it seemed a strong wind, but once we got about 150 metres off shore it quickly became apparent that it was really blowing, and those that actually started the race spoke of waves nearly a metre high at the south end of the lake that they were able to surf across. In the end, many of the boats opted for safety, not wanting to go out and break stuff, and a few of the more skilful, or brave, or . . . . , skippers headed out to the start. I took Mrs Vicious out for a sail across the lake and back before giving it away, to worried about breaking anything, maybe including myself (!) to want to stay out. Andrew Lewis took out 1851 Brigand for a brief sail before also deciding discretion was the better option.

In what seems to be rapidly becoming a tradition for the class, everyone missed the start to a greater or lesser extent. The race was won by Brian Carroll on Jack’s Toy, followed by Chris Cleary on Janus, Ian Milton on Apsu and Ken Maynard on a rapidly sinking Helen, Chris Drury on Blowed if I Know had to retire due to a broken rudder, and all of them reported having a swim at least once during the race.

Later in the day the wind died off a bit and Ken O’Brien took out 1808 Cobra and I took out Stanley Crocodile with the Ockerfish rig for a short sail, but with some nasty weather complete with lightning to the south we didn’t venture far.

On Saturday evening a great meal was had at the sailing club, while we all sat around and told tales, some of which might even have been true, before heading off for a well earned rest.

Sunday arrived with thunderstorms and rain, and by the time we had made it out to the club we had thunderstorm activity with lightning strikes in three out of four quadrants. When I asked local skipper Mark Teasedale for his advice, he just shook his head and said “I wouldn’t be going out yet”. At ten the Flying Dutchmen called off their racing for the day, had their presentation and started to pack, by eleven the weather was still looking pretty ordinary and the club announced that there would be no racing that day. And so, we started to pack away our boats.

By two there was blue sky and John Fairfax took out a VJ, an A12 (Bethwaite designed one man trapeze rig) owned and restored by Andrew Kean went for a sail and the Gwen 12 from South Australia hit the water. I later learned the wind shifts were in the order of 90 degrees which would not have been fun on a Sailfish, but at least it wasn’t blowing a gale.

Boats and skippers that came along:

600, Helen, Ken Maynard

1808, Cobra, Ken O’Brien

1851, Brigand, Andrew Lewis

1918, Janus, Chris Cleary

2192, Apsu, Ian Milton

3342, Glasshopper, Jack Carroll

3456, Blowed if I Know, Chris Drury

3461, Jack’s Toy, Brian Carroll

And I brought along

1375, Mrs Vicious

2028, Bruce!

3330, Stanley Crocodile, with the 3250 Ockerfish rig

Surprise visitors included Rob Champion, past National Champion on 1302, Sish, Craig Conn who used to own 3422, Al Martin who has just acquired 3333, Russell Brennan who used to sail a Sailfish out of Beaumaris, Barry Murfett who used to sail a Sailfish (209?) on the bay as well, and the Cairn Curran owner of Mud Shoveller, whose name I neglected to write down (sorry). I hope we see them all at future events, hopefully with a boat.

Some of the photos we were able to get have been posted in the Victoria Gallery, and we hope to have a few more soon, so be sure to have a look at that as well.


Current Header Photo

Taken on the Saturday morning at the inaugural Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend at Cairn Curran Sailing Club; you can read the full report in the separate post above.

From left to right, 2028 Bruce!, 1375 Mrs Vicious behind Bruce!, Brain Carroll and Mark Teasedale in foreground with their backs to the camera, Brians new boat 3461 Jack’s Toy behind them, 3456 Blowed if I Know, with 1918 Janus behind that, 3250 is really Stanley Crocodile (3330) with the Ockerfish rig on board, the red and white sail is 2192 Apsu with 600 Helen behind that.

Just One Day to Go!

Until the Inaugural Cairn Curran Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend, Saturday and Sunday the 25th and 26th of November.

Get your boat(s) ready, and if you don’t have a Sailfish at the moment just bring along your sailing gear, there is sure to be a chance to have a sail; book your accommodation, pack the car and get ready to head on over.

Cairn Curran is a great venue, a friendly club always ready to greet old and new friends alike. If you have had the pleasure of sailing there before you will know what I mean and be looking forward to the weekend already, if you haven’t sailed at Cairn Curran before then this is the chance  to fix that.

See you there Saturday morning.

Another Great Find!

For those of us of a certain age, and who cut our sailing teeth at Narrabeen, the name Cordukes is built into our sailing story. Alex and his son Phillip were regulars at State Titles, National Titles and pretty well every weekend of the sailing season at NLSC right through the seventies, always there and always ready to lend a hand.

During October we received an email from Ameli to say that he was the current owner of Chop Chop registered number 1932, and that he had bought it second hand in Leichhardt in 2004 in a bric a brac shop. Chop Chop was owned by Phillip Cordukes, and both this and Alex’s boat, Alvacore, 1496, were built by Alex. Astoundingly for this sort of find, Chop Chop is complete, right down to the cane battens, well, alright, maybe one is missing.

Chop Chop, Sailfish 1932, rigged and ready for action, almost. [By Jenny Cleary, Hawkesbury, 4 November 2017]
Chris Cleary inspected Chop Chop last Saturday, Nov 4. He reports that her new home port is Milsons Passage, a stunning little collection of cottages and boatsheds on the riverbank 5 km upstream from the Hawkesbury River Bridge, north of Sydney. The place is only accessible by boat. Her new skipper is Ameli Tanchitsa. He is pleased to also report that the boat is in remarkably good condition. Although the hull will ultimately be sanded back and revarnished, it could be sailed as is. It just needs a mainblock, a mainsheet of adequate length, a pair of diamond struts and a new starboard chainplate.

Chop Chop
Ameli and Chop Chop on the banks of the Hawkesbury  [By Jenny Cleary, Milsons Passage, 4 November, 2017]


Apart from the many memories of sailing against Phillip, and Alex, at Narrabeen I have one memory that stands out; we stayed at Bundeena one Easter and the Cordukes were nearby with both their boats, so Phillip and I spent a great day sailing on Port Hacking in quite big seas, surfing waves past the ferry at times!

A familiar sight to many of us, note the spring retainer clip for the rudder and the registration tag. [By Jenny Cleary, Hawkesbury, 4 November 2017]
This find is great news for a number of reasons, firstly because it is a boat that many of us know and have fond memories of, and secondly because it does show that there are still boats out there, some like Chop Chop complete, just waiting to be found. So get out there and start looking, this gives us all the opportunity to choose to build or to restore, whichever we prefer.

North Geelong Sailfish

As of the 28th of November this one has gone, off to a new home on Lake Macquarie.


Chris Cleary, one of the moderators of this website, visited Geelong on Monday 23 October and took the opportunity to inspect the Australian Sailfish on sale at 123 Retro Antiques, 3/287 Melbourne Rd, North Geelong (see blog post 1 Sept  2017 and Classifieds).

An assessment of the boat was limited by the unwillingness of the shop’s manager to lower the hull from the wall. We were told to return on a Saturday when there would be staff to assist. Nevertheless, the hull looks to be in good condition apart from a small but easily repairable puncture hole in the bottom on the starboard side. The bottom panels and sides are painted. The deck is a very attractive varnished ply with a lovely figured grain. The appearance of the deck is spoilt slightly by the non-skid material applied aft of the main track. There were two centreboards with the boat, one of which was for the Sailfish, the other for a larger dinghy.

The price has been reduced to $159.

Apart from the hole in the starboard bottom panel, the boat appears to be sound and well-constructed, with the paint and varnish in good condition. It has the appearance of a serious racer.

For anyone seeking a mount for the forthcoming regatta season, this boat is well worth considering, and is too good to be lost or thrown away, so take a drive down to North Geelong and check it out.

If you are interested, visit on a Saturday (and even then, ring beforehand to confirm that it can be taken off the wall for close inspection).

November Header Photo

Steven Floyd leads Chris Cleary at the 2017 Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta, photo by Hayden Ramsdale.

Chris was the class’s most successful National Champion, winning three National Titles in a row in the 1970s and Steven won the last National Title contested (so far?). To have them both there with their respective title winning boats was something special.

Held every Australia Day weekend ICWDR is a major wooden boat event on the calendar, which saw 11 Australian Sailfish front up this year.

Regatta season is almost upon us, so best get ready. Cairn Curran is coming up on the weekend of 25th and 26th of November, then a month off for Christmas and then back to Inverloch over the Australia Day weekend. There are a number of other events in 2018 including Geelong and Paynesville and we will have more on them later, so there is no shortage of choice as to where you want to see or sail your Sailfish.

News Flash! News Flash! (Again).

Last week, a newly completed Australian Sailfish was launched into the tropical waters of Keppel Bay at Yeppoon in Queensland. It was the second Sailfish launch in the space of seven days. Given the demise of the Australian Sailfish as an active class in the late 1980’s, this is extraordinary.

The new boat is ‘Woody’, built by Royce Powe. It is the lovely boat featured on this website in the Queensland section of the Gallery.

The proud builder with his boat on the impressive rigging area at Keppel Bay Sailing Club [By Royce Powe’s father, Keppel Bay, Qld; 12 Oct 2017]
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And on the gently shoaling beach. Looks like boating paradise. [By Royce Powe’s father, Keppel Bay, Qld; 12 Oct 2017]

Congratulations to Royce. Such a beautiful example of the Sailfish class might inspire other builds in the Sunshine State.

It is interesting to note that, in the early 1960’s, Queensland was the first state to which the Australian Sailfish class spread after it originated in Victoria. This blogmeister can feel in his bones the stirrings of  a Northern Sailfish Revivalist Tour, a caravan of baby-boomer Victorian and New South Wales disciples travelling north, probably in mid-winter.