Names from the Past – Martin Kortlucke

Text by Chris Cleary.

One of the many interesting people associated with the Australian Sailfish contacted me by email a month or so ago. “Call me”, the message requested. Which I did – it was Martin Kortlucke, in Brisbane.

As a consequence of some health issues, Martin needed to part with his Sailfish which had been moored in his garage for many years. “Free to a good home”, he said. This website passed the information onto our Brisbane contacts, and Warwick Norton snapped up the boat within a few days (see blog entry dated July 19, 2018).

I first met Martin at the 1972-73 Sailfish National Championships, held on Cairn Curran Reservoir near Maldon in central Victoria. His boat was ‘Zorba”, boat number 1154. He had sailed the boat on the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay, but the titles were the first time he had ever raced a sailboat! He came 14th.

He was tall and rangy, and very strong. The ’72-73 titles were dominated by heavy winds. In one heat, a shackle on his forestay broke soon after the start and his mast came down. In rough water he was able to fit a spare shackle, haul up the mast and sail again and recommence the race. I clearly remember the race officials shaking their heads in wonderment as they described his efforts at the briefing the following day. He was given a prize at the awards night. This is the entry from the March 1973 Newsletter:

Martin's newsreel comment.jpeg.jpeg
[Extract from Australian Sailfish Newsletter, March 1973, page 8]
Martin also attended the 1973-74 championships on Narrabeen Lakes the following year. He came 9th.

As a child, Martin had become fascinated by the sea and sailing and the square-riggers. His very first sailing trip was in 1971 on the barque ‘Endeavour II’. This ship sailed to Australia from Canada to take part in the 1970 James Cook Bicentenary celebrations. He signed on as crew for a five week trip to New Zealand, the first leg of its return voyage to North America. In high seas the ship was wrecked on the Parengarenga Bar at the northern tip of the north island of New Zealand. Along with the other 13 crew, he had to swim two miles to safety. An exciting introduction to sailing!

Undaunted by that, he was determined to learn to sail. He was advised to buy a Sailfish. “If you can sail a Sailfish you can sail anything”, he was told. ‘Zorba’ was his first. He subsequently built his second, using what was then the relatively new technique of wood/epoxy sheathing. The boat acquired by Warwick was his third Sailfish.

Martin is a Mechanical Engineer, now retired. He has always been intellectually inquisitive. Over his sailing life he has built seven boats of various types, all of them technically adventurous. One of them was a Phil Bolger 30 ft gaff-rigged ‘folding’ schooner. Martin built it as a bow section and a stern section so they could be carried together on his boat trailer. To go sailing, the two sections were bolted together amidships.

Martin's folding schooner 1.JPG
Martin and the amazing folding boat, folded. [Kortlucke Family album, date unknown]
Martin's folding schooner.jpg
And here it is on the water, looking very sweet. [Kortlucke Family Album, date unknown]
Martin was the 1982 National Champion in the 14 ft Calypso class catamaran, with his wife, Nola, as crew. Over his sailing life he has also had extensive ocean racing and boat delivery experience off the east coast of Australia, almost exclusively in multihulls. He sailed in the Brisbane to Gladstone race on seven occasions, and has raced the Sydney to Brisbane, Gladstone to Cairns and Townsville to Brampton Island races among other events. His boats have taken line honours and set records on a number of occasions. I remember Martin showing me over the ocean racing trimaran he crewed on when I visited Brisbane many years ago. ‘Devils 3’ was a 37 ft lightweight fibreglass flyer. I found it very disconcerting that the sides of the central hull seemed barely opaque. Martin wasn’t troubled at all.

He is well-known in Queensland boating circles, has been a longstanding member of the Wooden Boat Association of Queensland and was editor of the association newsletter for an extended period.

This website thanks Martin for his generosity in passing on his Sailfish, and wishes him all the very best.



Current Header Photo

Ian Milton on 2028, Bruce! at the Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta this year, making it look easy, clown shoes and all! Ian had Bruce! steaming along, leading for much of the Friday race and being right in amongst it again on the Saturday.

Photo by Marion Chapman, Anderson’s Inlet, 27 January 2018.

Regatta Season is Coming!

Whether you live in the north, the south, the east or the west it looks like the 2018/19 sailing season will have plenty of opportunities for us to get our Sailfish in the water.  The following is what we know so far:

October 6 – Bendigo Yacht Club Opening Day at Lake Eppalock.

Bendigo is Jack Carroll’s home club and we hope to get a good turnout to start the season. I know that Warwick is coming down from Brisbane with Ogg, and at least a few of us from Melbourne will be there as well, so drag out the boat and get started on all those little things you need to do to be back on the water in just over two months.


November 24 & 25 – Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend at Cairn Curran.

This will be the second time we have held this event, at a great club with many historical links to the Australian Sailfish. While there will be many of us coming from Victoria and NSW, for those of us who live in Melbourne’s west or the western districts this regatta is the easiest to get to, and this year the weather gods might cooperate.


January 26 to 28 2019 – the Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta at Inverloch.

If we had a “home” regatta this would be it. This is the place where the resurgence in interest in the Australian Sailfish really took off in 2017, so come along and help us be the largest single class for the third year in a row. A very friendly club, an at times “interesting” and “challenging” sailing venue and a terrific weekend. You could even have your photo taken with Jack’s original Australian Sailfish, Debonair, Australian Sailfish number 2, you won’t see that anywhere else!


March 9 & 10 2019 – Wallagoot Lake Boat Club Regatta at Wallagoot Lake.

Home to our own Tony Hastings, owner of Flotsam, and Terry Kirby, owner of 1806, this regatta is just perfectly placed for any of our skippers in Sydney, the south coast of NSW or eastern Victoria. It might even serve as a warm up for the following event.


March 2019 – Toronto Four of a Kind Regatta at Toronto Lake Macquarie.

This is an event for all the Sailfish in Sydney, the Greater Lake Macquarie area and north, and south if you enjoy a drive of course. We turned up last year and cleaned up Division 2, should probably do it again in 2019 so they know it wasn’t a fluke. The exact date is still to be determined but expect the back end of March based on previous years.


April 27 & 28 2019 – The South Australian Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa.

Chris Cleary and I are taking a couple of Australian Sailfish along to spread the word, and the more the merrier, so come along if you can. This event is held every two years and is just a great indulgence for anyone who loves wooden boats of all kinds. There is plenty to see and do over the weekend.


Of course, there are others, the Sunshine club on Lake Macquarie have a single-handed regatta in early November and and their annual regatta in February, plus there is the Lake Boga Easter Regatta as well.

Lots to choose from, or go mad and come along to them all! See you at a Regatta soon.


Old Boats have Old Sails

And new boats need new sails

Over the nearly two years since we kicked off the website there has been a remarkable and quite unexpected resurgence of interest in the Australian Sailfish. Quite a few boats have been recovered, discovered or just dragged out from under the house, and there has been a good number of new boats built or being built.

However, there is one area of the build or restoration that is beyond most of us working from home, and that is the skills and equipment to repair old sails or make a new one. Whether you need a new sail for your shiny new Sailfish, or your old sail needs replacing, or a new bolt rope, or some stitching replaced, or a patch where a batten has torn through, you really do need the help of an experienced sailmaker. After some discussion between Chris and myself we are happy to recommend the following sailmakers:

Unique Sails – Brian Carroll, Jack’s son – based in Paynesville Victoria, Brian has literally a lifetime of experience with the Australian Sailfish, and has been making sails since he was about 15. His latest Sailfish sail is for Jack’s Toy, his new build from 2017 and it goes like a train.



Phone: 0411 743 602

Redback Sails – Andy Campbell and James Gough – based in Brookvale NSW and has supplied Ian Milton’s and Chris Cleary’s latest sails, and they are both really happy with them, Chris reckons it is the best Sailfish sail he has ever had (and no, it isn’t his first sail).



Phone: Andy 0438 111 197

Off the Beach Sails – Peter Williamson – based on the Sunshine Coast Queensland with a focus on dinghy sails and repairs. Peter has access to sail design software and CAD but all his work is done by hand, from measuring to cutting to finishing.


Phone: 0405 226 739

Really Simple Sails – Michael Storer – Michael has a strong reputation for his affordable and accessible boat designs and has extensive experience with lug sail development. Really Simple Sails is based in the Phillipines and is offering a discount on their normal price for the first Australian Sailfish sail ordered for delivery into Australia. This is due to the introduction of GST on imported goods being extended to goods less than $1000 and the lack of clarity about how that will be managed. The deal is that the customer has to let Michael know what happens with additional Australian charges.




I have deliberately not listed any prices here, as that will fluctuate with exchange rates depending on where you are and who you order from. If you are ordering a new sail, that will be the time to discuss price and inclusions. Of course, repairs are most easily done locally.

So this gives us a sailmaker in each state on the eastern seaboard of Australia and an overseas supplier as well. These are just some of the sailmakers we know a bit about, you might have a great sailmaker near where you live and be happy to be using them instead. Whoever you choose, I hope they look after you and your Sailfish.


Another QLD boat recovered

Hot on the heels of his mammoth drive to Melbourne earlier this year to take possession of Ogg (1800) Warwick quickly realised that he would need a second boat for his kids to learn to sail on if he was to get any on-water time for himself.

And then Martin Kortlucke made contact with Chris Cleary to say that due to ill health he would have to part with his Brisbane-based Australian Sailfish. We contacted a few of our northern Sailfishers and Warwick was quick off the mark, so now he can rest easy knowing that he will get a chance to sail Ogg while his kids learn how to sail on their own Sailfish.

Here is Warwick’s report on progress so far, with a few photos as well:

“The hull looks like a really early vintage design.  It is in excellent condition with no obvious repairs completed.  Weighing in at healthy 38kg it is a solid build.  No flexing anywhere on the deck or bottom.  No evidence of any major water penetration.  The hull is glued and nailed together with a varnish finish.  Martin had recently given the hull a fresh coat of varnish and it looks great.

A real traditional build, solid looking bow and rounded bow shape, is that a tow ring or an assault weapon? [By Warwick Norton, Brisbane, 18 July 2018]
The aluminium mast and boom look like they might have come from another type of boat and been adapted.  The sail is in excellent condition and is a fresher build.  Martin had to bleach a lot of stains out of it caused by what he described as a possum nest.  It has come up a treat.  It has only 4 battens.  The top 3 are permanently tied in and are a very stiff rod design with no shape.  The bottom batten is an adjustable yellow bluestreak with shape. I googled the sailmaker but they seem to no longer exist.  I plan to fit flexible, adjustable battens.

Mast modified.jpg
Warwick’s new Sailfish, with the full rig. [By Warwick Norton, Brisbane, 18 July 2018]
 Boat came with the original centreboard, boomvang, and a rudder made by Martin and friends.  I have made up a new mainsheet.

No sail number present.  No hull number or evidence of a name ever placed on the hull.

As such we do not have any identification as yet.

On the first rigging it became evident the mast was a bit long and needed a bit of length removed.

I have taken about 40cm off the base of mast, repositioned the side and forestays and setup with some rake that was zero if not leaning slightly forward. The height of the boom has been lowered to about 15 – 16 inch.

I also test set up the cadet sail for the kids and will send one through a photo of that when we relaunch the ‘fish.  The kids are going to come up with a new name.  I plan for this to be the kids boat.”


So there we have it, so far. Norton’s Navy is BACK! For those of us old enough to remember.

Does anyone out there recognise this boat, can you give us some more details perhaps? A plan number would be great, or maybe you recognise it from sailing against it at State or National Titles. If you do, drop us a line, we would love to be able to fill in some backstory.



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