Florida is Go!

In a number of firsts, Richard has launched his new build Australian Sailfish in Florida.

Nearly ready to launch. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 2 June 2019]
First strip built Australian Sailfish and first Floridian Australian Sailfish, launched on Father’s Day (Northern Hemisphere) which seems like a pretty good day for such an event.

And a side view, still waiting on a few fittings. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 2 June 2019]
Richard reports he had a few swims, but didn’t we all the first time out on a Sailfish, and that his son enjoyed himself on the new boat as well.

Richard and his son and his new boat, all rigged up and ready to go. [By unknown, Pensacola Florida, 16 June 2019]

There will be more photos shortly and I hope to have a video link as well, so check back to see more on this new launch.


Florida Update

Richard has the deck on and the centreboard finished, rudder not far behind. He tells me that his next big decision is whether to stain the hull or go for a natural finish.

Deck on, centreboard done and rudder not far behind. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 4 May 2019]
Waiting to see the bow detail now, what a great building frame. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 4 May 2019]
A bit of centreboard and strip planking detail. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 4 May 2019]

Things on the move in Florida

Here is our latest update from Richard in Pensacola Florida, right on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, and things are moving along at a great pace. Again, these shots all benefit from being viewed on a tablet, so you can zoom in on the detail.

Hull turned over, deck stringers in and centreboard case in place. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 22 April 2019]
First of the deck strip planking going on and the stiffening piece fitted under the mast step. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 22 April 2019]
A view from the stern, strip planked keel just visible. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 22 April 2019]
The thing that I am most aware of, having never been involved in any way with a strip built boat, is the speed with which it all comes together. Not long to go now until fitting out and that first sail!


More progress from Florida

Things are coming along nicely in Florida where Richard is hard at work on the strip built Australian Sailfish.

Ready for the turn and interior fit out before the deck goes on. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 11 April 2019]
This is really going to look the business when it is varnished. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 11 April 2019]
Have a look at this on your tablet of choice, where you can zoom in and check out the joins. And keep checking back for more updates.

Something New!

Down in Florida, Richard is hard at work building his Australian Sailfish, but I think this one might be a first.

Richard is building using the strip planking, or cedar strip method, and as far as I know this will be the very first Australian Sailfish built this way. Evidently it creates a light but strong hull and is often seen in kayak or canoe construction where a smooth line around a curved bilge is required.

Check out the photos. I reckon it is going to look fantastic when all done and varnished.

Firstly, check out the building frame. Not much chance of twisting that! [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 3 April 2019]
A man of many clamps, I have clamp envy! [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 3 April 2019]

Really looking forward to how the different grains come up when varnished, the handlebars in the background don’t go on the boat. [By Richard Langlinais, Pensacola Florida, 3 April 2019]
Bring on the next exciting instalment I say.

Things are warming up in Wisconsin

When we last heard from Joe it was so cold that the chickens had been brought inside to ensure they didn’t freeze, this is not something we have to deal with in Australia!

The use of clear wrap to hold things together while the epoxy sets up is not something I have seen before, but it clearly works. [By Joe Schena, Wisconsin, January 2019]
But on the boat building front he was racing ahead, as you can see above, frames, stringers, strongback and centreboard case all fitted.

Yesterday the latest update arrived, and things are looking good.

Side looks fair and smooth, I am really looking forward to seeing the next stage of this build. [By Joe Schena, Wisconsin, March 2019]
Sides are on, and plywood at that, stringers, keel and centreboard case are faired in, so the next step is the bottom ply goes on and then it is time to turn the whole show over and get started on fitting the deck.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin . . .

Where the weather is much cooler than it is in Australia right at the moment, what better way to spend your time than by building an Australian Sailfish. You can get a hint of the weather there by the snow shoes in the background of one of the photos.

Joe ordered his plans in mid November and isn’t wasting any time on it,


Deckplank down, frames on, keel on, bottom stringers drying. [By Joe Schena, Wisconsin, January 2019]
Bow detail. [By Joe Schena, Wisconsin, January 2019]

A new Cleary boat

Here’s some good news to help get us all ready for Inverloch, Chris has launched a new boat!

The new build is named Westerly, number 2218, and in what is now very much a Cleary tradition was launched at Wentworth Falls Lake this last week.

Westerly, Australian Sailfish 2218. [By Ian Watson, Wentworth Falls Lake, 19 January 2019]
Westerly, Australian Sailfish 2218. [By Ian Watson, Wentworth Falls Lake, 19 January 2019]

I for one am really looking forward to checking this one out.

An Essential Sailfish Gadget

From Chris Drury, October 6 2018:

 “Irreducible complexity is a term to describe a structure that performs a function but cannot be made any simpler or it will not work. Remove one single component from a mousetrap and it is no longer a mousetrap.

The Australian Sailfish is a sailing boat that could be described as irreducibly complex. It is a sailing boat that in many aspects can’t be made any simpler or it won’t work. So, this is not the class where one would expect to see novel gadgets. It is not the class to see many gadgets at all really. But when Sailfish are lined up along the beach, you can be sure that this gadget will be well represented. It’s probably not unique to the Sailfish class, but it doesn’t seem to be that common in other classes.

There is a reason why this gadget is so popular with Sailfish skippers. Picture being on your Sailfish in a stiff breeze and for one reason or another, the sail needs to come down. Try scrambling to the fore deck of the boat to untie the halyard and lower the sail. If you are lucky you can get half the job done before the boat capsizes and is completely upside down.  Then you have to finish the job feeling around beneath the boat. Or you climb on the centreboard. OK, the mast is now horizontal, so from the centreboard you lean forward to get to the halyard but then the bow goes under, you fall off and the boat is upside down again.

Our safety rules state that the sail must be able to be lowered from the deck. The circus described above is hardly compliant and is certainly no fun. Enter the gadget, drum roll please – Enter the quick release; there, wasn’t that worth the build up?

The quick release is a fastening device at the top of the mast with a chord or wire down to deck level. One tug on the chord and the head of the sail is free to come down, no more circus. This gadget is so simple that there is no need for any more words, just a few pictures. So here it is. The humble quick release.”

(The author of this article says he will not answer any questions about “the circus” for fear of self incrimination.)

Blowed if I Know 3456

IMG_4233.JPG        IMG_4234.JPG

IMG_4235 copy.jpg

So, enthused, ready to make your very own, not sure where to start? Read on, for the latest (??) from our March 1978 Australian Sailfish Newsletter!

“Here is a simple device invented some (many!) years ago by Peter Kilevics and used on many Sailfish since then. Read the steps and refer to the images below for clarification, I would recommend a dry fit first to test everything out.


  1. If you are using an aluminium mast, make up a wooden plug to fit into the top of the mast, slather with glue (epoxy or whatever) and fix in place. If using a wooden mast this step is not required.
  2. Cut a 6 mm (¼”) slot fore and aft in the top f the mast. This should be 25 mm (1”) deep at the front of the mast and 37 mm (1 ½”) deep at the back.
  3. Fashion an L shaped lever as shown from aluminium plate about 4 mm (3/16”) thick.
  4. Fit the lever in position with the long side sitting flush down the front of the mast. Drill a hole through the mast, the block plug and the lever and secure with suitable nut and bolt.
  5. Drill another hole in the mast about level with the lowest point of the lever. Make a loop in one end of a 150 mm (6”) long piece of stainless steel wire, push a bolt through the loop and the mast, bend the wire around front of the mast and lever. Twist the wire around the opposite end of the bolt and then secure with a nut.
  6. Run a length of cord, or wire, to the deck to use if required to release the sail.”

Here are two variations of the instructions above:

Stanley Crocodile 3330

Quick Release Engaged                                  & Released

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Jack’s Toy 3461

Quick Release Engaged                                  & Released

image-1.jpg          image.jpg

As you can see, the photos above show a version of the Peter Kilevics system. What is not immediately obvious is that the lever in the photos has a notch cut in the top to hold the shackle, or cord, or wire at the top of the sail and the system in the article has a slight dip in the section that sticks out the back of the mast for the same reason.

Another option for an aluminium mast:

The sail quick release on Super Trooper (3365) is basically a spring-loaded pin at the top of the mast that is connected to a cord running internally down the mast and out a small hole just above the base. When the cord is pulled the pin retracts releasing the shackle at the top of the sail.


For those with wooden masts who don’t want to cut them about, this variation from Ken O’Brien is worth checking out:

  1. For my quick release system I used a Wilchard Quick Release Snap Shackle, bought from Anchor Marine. It comes with a very short release line, which I removed, and then had trouble finding a fine rope to fit through the hole, so probably better to attach your rope to the one provided.
  2. The release line loops up through the top eyelet of the release shackle.
  3. Using this system, the quick release could be added without any modification to the mast, except for adding cleats at the base to hold the release line.
  4. One design consideration is that when the quick release is used, the release line should remain attached to the top of the mast, and not come down with the sail, when it would get tangled.
  5. Another consideration is that this snap block is very sensitive, and could release through mast flexing . To overcome this, I have attached a short length of shock cord along the release line, arranged so that the shock cord needs to be stretched before the release line operates. This takes a little bit of experimentation to get the pressure right.

Wooden Mast Step 1                                          Wooden Mast Step 3

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Wooden Mast Step 5


There you go, one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but you will be SO glad you have it on that fateful day when you really need it.


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.