Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend

This is an event for classic dinghy classes of any construction! So if you have a fibreglass Sailfish, (Brett), or a composite Sailfish, or a conventionally built Australian Sailfish, time to get that boat out, do some tidying up and get it ready!

It seems like the end of November is a long way off, but it is shocking how quickly that time will evaporate if you are trying to get your boat ready, so hop to it.

The venue is well known to many of us; Cairn Curran Sailing Club will be our host for the weekend of the 25th and 26th of November and there is a range of accommodation available in the area, from Castlemaine through to Maldon, so start to check that out as well before it is all booked.

For the latest up to date information, like schedules and stuff like that, check out either the Cairn Curran Sailing Club website at for the Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend (not the Regatta the week before) or the Victorian Classic Dinghy Latest News at or keep checking back here, as we find out more we will be posting it for you.

Hope to see you there, Cairn Curran has a great Australian Sailfish history, it is where our first National Title winner, Leigh Marriott came from, and his boat, Mrs Vicious will be there.

Getting started

From the exotic Central Coast of NSW, Chris Leyland remembers his start in sailing and his first forays on an Australian Sailfish. Read on . . . .


Before entering High School, I crewed on a Manly Junior, sailing in the crowded Manly Harbour, bobbing between Hydrofoils and Manly Ferries. In my first season, we won the B division series. During that same year, Dad purchased a Flying 11, which we raced at Narrabeen on a Sunday. It was an old boat, a glass hull, before any official glass F11 hulls and although we had fun, it wasn’t a fast boat. It wasn’t long before Dad was crewing for me! His . . . . eh-hmm “weight” was a distinct advantage in heavy air and we had lots of great father/son times, but it wasn’t long before I yearned to be more competitive.

The hot shot class at Narrabeen, full of excitement, speed and seemingly endless enjoyment, was the Sailfish. To a thirteen year old, this was something that had all the aspects that I was looking for, but sadly I didn’t have the money to get one; thirteen year olds are usually pretty broke, but there were a couple of second hand boats available.  There was a FAST proven boat, sailed by Jim Sayers, whose boat “Fury”, sail number 1257, became available and it took no convincing to take it for a test sail. Jim had done well in Club, State and National racing and it was a good looking light blue and white boat, with matching light blue and white mainsail.

It was suggested that I race it one Sunday, although I had only previously had a 10 minute test sail on it, in very calm conditions. That first race Fury lived up to all its glory, but sailing it took some getting used to. I started counting how many times I capsized and was up to 35 times before giving up on counting. That was in the FIRST LAP!  Only 3 more laps to go. . . but I did finish and was the last boat in, much to the starter boat crew’s dismay! At least a skinny teenager could easily right this boat, even time after time. . . after time, after time. BUT I was well and truly “hooked”!

It took a little while, but I eventually acquired Fury, partially via a birthday present and an agreement to find a part time job and pay off the balance (a delivery boy at a chemist only made 75 cents for an entire afternoons work! Talk about slavery).


Chris on Fury. [By Bob Leyland, Toronto, 1976]

It didn’t take long to get the hang of sailing Fury and not long before I was starting to move up the the fleet and learning how to gain some advantages over rivals. Because I was light, I was fast in light and drifter conditions and from time to time turned a few heads and by the end of my first season I was starting to become competitive. I had some idols in the class, some of who are still around now!

Sailfish became very important to me, Brian Carroll actually helped me to consider a career path in sail making (after making a model yacht sail, during a BBQ at our place one Narrabeen nationals). I became the last apprentice at the Miller and Whitworth Sail loft and I ended up doing a lot of research into tuning and getting Fury and my future boats to also go quickly.

Once again, I would like to thank Messrs Barwick, Cleary and Milton, for their efforts in getting not only this site up and running, but for the establishment of a “focal point” in the resurgence of the Sailfish class.

Apart from reading the newly posted Blogs, articles and news items, along with the odd new photo or video that surfaces and with your stories, (hint, hint) I look forward to the day when the site announces a “newly formed racing division” is once again regularly racing at a sailing club.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chris’s last point is well made – dredge through your memory while you still can and send in your own experiences in getting started in Sailfish for us all to enjoy. I would very much like to make this an ongoing series but that means I need input.


Cheap Clamps!

I knew that would get your attention.

These are the improvised clamps that were used along with a few conventional models by Brian Carroll in the building of his new Sailfish. And there is an update on that as well, so scroll down and have a look at some really nice work in the latest photos.

But now, back to the clamps. First, get a length of 100mm diameter plastic waste pipe with a wall thickness of around 8 – 10 mm. Then cut this into roughly 30mm wide sections, so you end up with lots of little waste pipes. Then cut with a fine blade, like a hacksaw blade, each section along the 30mm length. Even with this split the section will be quite hard to open, thus creating a strong grip, a clamp.

If you are concerned about marking the deck slip some scrap pieces in between the deck and the plastic, and if any of the above is unclear check out the blog below on “A New Carroll Boat” dated June 25 and have a look at the picture roughly six down as of this writing to get a visual.

So Jack rang last night . . . . . .

Jack Carroll, class co-designer, specifically wanted to ask me to add his comments on what an excellent post, titled More on Boat Building, Chris Leyland had written last November about building a Sailfish.

Jack thought that Chris had really encouraged first time builders and had also captured the essence of what the boat is about, simple to build, fun to sail, easy to transport and, in the right hands, a very competitive boat for teenager or adult.

So have a look at what Chris has to say, look for his entry in the November posts or select Boatbuilding under Blog Topics, check out the information on the builds we know about, and have a go!


What’s been Happening?

It has been a while since I have done one of these, you know, life can get in the way sometimes, so here is a brief rundown of what has been going on, and what is still to come.

Boatbuilds – we know of at least three new boats under construction. Brian Carroll is building a new boat in Victoria, and the details of that with lots of photos as a guide for all you budding boat builders is on this page. As this page is in date order scroll down to read more from Brian, look for A New Carroll Boat, and a blog post date of June 25. Royce has the honour of building the first Queensland boat in at least 45 years (I think), check his photos out in the Queensland Gallery and there is at least one new boat being constructed in NSW. And Jack rang last night and asked me to add his thoughts on Chris Leyland’s post on building from last November, check it out.

Events – the NSW Sailfish Association 50th anniversary get together at Narrabeen Lakes went off a treat, over fifty people turned up, the weather was perfect, plenty of old faces to catch up with, and a few interlopers from south of the border made the effort to come along as well. Plus there were boats to play on!

Back in touch – a couple of notables, Chris Johnson, ex Mokoan has found us, as has Russell Ker, Vimoo Too, number 808, and Bill Jauncey, number 1276, AND we tracked down Tony Bytheway and Graeme Remington in time to get them along to the Narrabeen event. Just got to get them all back on a boat now.

Australian Amateur Boat Builder not only published Chris Cleary’s excellent article on the Australian Sailfish but then very generously gave their permission for us to put the link to it up on the website; if you haven’t seen it yet, trawl down the blog until you find the link, it’s a good read.

Plans – Ian Urban has created a 3D model of the Sailfish for all you budding boat builders, see the Plan Orders page for details on how to be sent a copy and how to load it.

Upcoming Events – As I have said before, for a class that is supposed to be dead, we sure seem to be busy! Next off the blocks is the Cairn Curran Classic Dinghy Weekend, 25 and 26 November; I plan to have Bruce! there, plus Stanley Crocodile and the big one, Leigh Marriott’s boat Mrs Vicious. Leigh was a Cairn Curran boy and the winner of the first Australian Sailfish National Titles, held at Elwood. After that is the Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta, Australia Day weekend 2018, an event that I reckon is not to be missed. Plus the Paynesville Classic Boat Rally AND the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival are on in March 2018. As well as all that we also hope to have a NSW event on Lake Macquarie sometime near the end of the season. Phew, I feel tired just writing all that out! Now don’t panic, you’ll be pleased to know that attendance at all of these events is NOT compulsory.

That’s it for now, keep checking back for more updates.

Vimo Too, Sailfish 808

This in this morning from Russell Ker . . . .


Hi, quick intro, my Sailfish was Vimo Too, number 808. I sailed at the Beaumaris yacht club from 1968 to 73. I, sadly, have no photos of my old boat. So I am hoping someone has a photo of 808, from the early seventies and could forward it on to me. I sailed in the Nationals and State titles 72/73? (Cairn Curran, Eppalock and Parkdale). Great to see this site has appeared, looking at the old pictures and newsletters from the early seventies has brought back some great memories. I still manage to get out on the water, Haines Hunter and a SUP, times have changed!




So, how about it then? Does anyone out there have a photo (or two, or three) that we could forward on to Russell? If you do, get in touch through the Contact page and we will organise to send it on.

The Regattas are coming!

The Cairn Curran Classic Dinghy Invitation Weekend is now just FIVE months away, so you better get started on your preparations, it will be with us in no time!


And that means it is just SEVEN months until the 2018 Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta. This year’s Regatta was a turning point for the resurgence of the Australian Sailfish and we would like to have even more boats there in 2018, so start planning!


While it is to cold to be doing any painting in the southern states, you can still start to get things ready. Out with the gear, check those stays and blocks, make a list of what needs a coat of paint or varnish, in only another couple of months it might be warm enough to do some painting, I hope.

A new Carroll boat

It has been a very long time since one of the Carroll clan has built a new Sailfish but it is now officially time for the rest of us to start worrying, Brian has made a start on his new boat, and the sail is already done! If you are building or thinking about building keep checking out the photos on this blog, you really won’t get a better guide.

Latest update now at the top, Brian is racing along!


So here it is! New boat, new sail, new cradle, original Ockerfish mast sleeved to straighten and add the height it always needed. Note go fast hammer and water bottle. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 29 July 2017]


I am blown away! I didn’t think you could get ply that looked this good anymore. Check out the grain pattern and the detail on the nose. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 19 July 2017]


Hull turned and bottom epoxied, looking very nice. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 19 July 2017]


Deck epoxied. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 17 July 2017]


Check out the gunwale detail, overlapping the ply like this makes for a stronger and more watertight fit, and rounding the edge makes it just a LOT more comfortable. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 14 July 2017]


And the clamps come off. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 14 July 2017]


And the deck is on! No more secrets to be revealed about construction techniques then. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 11 July 2017]


Centreboard case detail. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 11 July 2017]

In the above photo note the blocks for the traveller and for the footstraps.


Chainplate and side detail, see my comments below. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 11 July 2017]

For those playing close attention to Brian’s progress there are a few thing to be aware of in the above photo. Firstly, the use of plywood sides, this keeps the weight down but does require the recalculation of frame sizes due to the reduced width of the sides. Also note the reinforcing around the chainplate for strength and rigidity and that the inside has been epoxied to seal the ply.


And turned over! Note the extra stringers for added strength and stiffness. Gunwales to go on tonight I am told. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 5 July 2017]


Bottom ply on, edges trimmed, Rana (the dog) inspecting for faults. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 5 July 2017]


Port side fitted, I don’t think the carpet roll or the fan in the background are a part of the same project. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 4 July 2017]


Starboard side fitted. Note the keel shaping and that at least some of the deck stringers are already in. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 4 July 2017]

And today’s helpful hint for all you budding boat builders out there – do both sides on the same day, DO NOT do one side and think you can come back tomorrow to do the other. You might find you have a slightly twisted hull.


Centreboard case detail. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 29 June 2017]


Transom fitted over frame 6, keel has started to be shaped. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 29 June 2017]


Bottom stringers and keel plank fitted. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville,29 June 2017]

Six days ago, Brian said progress might be slow, if that is the case I would be stunned to see what he could do when he was in a hurry! The three photos above were received this morning.

You might like to review Chris Cleary’s comments below about how fast a build can be!


Frame set up, looking from the stern. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 26 June 2017]

And there has been progress, today’s photo update is above.


Deck plank with centreboard slot cut out and set up on strong back. It does seem a bit minimalist so far. [By Brian Carroll, Paynesville, 23 June 2017]

Chris Cleary has seen the photo above, his comment . . . . “But a Sailfish can go from next to nothing to a completed hull in a very short time. Good on ya Brian. See you at Cairn Curran”





Cairn Curran is Coming!

The very first Cairn Curran Classic Dinghy Classes Invitation Weekend hosted by the Cairn Curran Sailing Club is coming!

The big news is that this is not a wooden boats only event. Classic Dinghy Class boats that are built out of wood, fibreglass and/or fibreglass and ply composite are welcome. We hope to have a good turnout of Sailfish, and if you have a ‘glass one we would really like to see you there. There will be Gwen 12’s, VJ’s, Moths and we hope that there will be lots of other classes as well.

If your boat isn’t ready, bring your sailing gear and get ready to hop back on a Sailfish.

So plan for the last weekend of November (25 & 26) and we will post more details as they become available, or check out the Victorian Classic Dinghy Network page via the Links page.

For now, get out that fibreglass Sailfish that you have been waiting to restore and get to it, just six months to go!

South Coast of NSW . . . .

From Bill on the south coast of NSW . . .

I built 1276 in 1968 in my bedroom, much to my mother’s horror, intending to race it at Narrabeen. Just as I finished it the Dept of Education in their infinite wisdom, posted me to Gunning, an hours drive from Canberra. I sailed it there with the ‘Y’ in 69 and also competed in the States. Sold the boat the next year after building an Arrow cat. That boat began a sailing career which has lasted almost 50 years. Last year I was given 1271 which was on the way to the tip from Callala bay sailing school. The hull is in good condition but all fittings have been removed. I have the sail and a mast to be rigged.


I love it when we find more boats that we didn’t even know had been built and here we have two. Anyone out there remember Bill Jauncey at the 1969 State Titles?