A Bit of Class History

From someone who was there and “cut their teeth” on an Australian Sailfish:

 

I didn’t start sailing till I was 34, much too old, and it was on a Sailfish I built in about 1964 for my eldest son. He was still much too young so I decided to give it a go and sail it myself. I called the boat “SEA PEPPER” (forgotten the sail number) and the name was beautifully sign written by Bruce Scott. An aside – no other club had boats with names painted on their hulls like Elwood, thanks to the Bruce’s skill. I still have the piece of my Sailfish foredeck, with name, hanging on the wall, and framed by the stringers.

I joined Elwood Sailing Club as it was the closest, and found there were some other Sailfish there. I was a member of Elwood for about 25 years from 1964 to 1987, where I sailed the Sailfish, then after about 6 seasons I went into Herons, then NS14’s, and finally crewed on a Compass 750 for 5 or 6 years, out of Royal Melbourne.

A few of the Sailfish names – Jack of course, Jim Fyvie, Lindsay Phillips, Jim Robinson, Chard Iverson, Karl Weiderman & Les Twentyman. These skippers were roughly my age, but they could all sail! I thought there was no way the hull would stand the stresses imposed, so I had strengthened it up around the mast step and the chainplates. Jim Fyvie thought that it was a bit of furniture as it was so heavy. I was thrilled when it was referred to as “Hot Stuff”. They all encouraged me to attend opening days at other Clubs, and to attend the Regatta Circuit – Cairn Curran, Eppalock, Paynesville, Warranga Basin, Lake Boga, and Yarrawonga. It was the Sailfish Association and the camaraderie exhibited within it that planted the bug that still infects me to this day.

The Association Monthly meetings were not to be missed, as they often featured a speaker of prominence and experience. I am still in wonder as to how the Committee were able to get such speakers to come to a group who sailed, and I quote Brian Carroll “this silly little boat”. Just a couple of examples – the speaker who as a 9 or 10 year old was taken to a Dutch Port to be crew on a square rigger, a cabin boy. He related some 50 years experience before the mast. He recalled a major hull design that enabled the crew to sleep dry. Their quarters were moved from the stern to amidships. They were no longer pooped. The other was John Bertrand, they must have told him a Sailfish was going to win the America’s Cup. Two items he spoke about were Line Sag and how to take advantage of it and Fleet Sailing, how to use other boats in the fleet to determine if you are taking a lift or knock.

It was only after qualifying as a Level 1 Coach, that I came to understand the importance of balance and trim, and together with the words that Jack Carroll had said to me years earlier “it’s the hand on the tiller that wins the race” (still remember him working the waves when beating to windward), and not the lightest, slippery hull, or the new HOT sail, which many skippers blame for their performance, (or lack thereof). It took me years to understand this, but when I did, I realized I was learning how to sail.

At my local club Ian Wayth, an Arrow skipper, hails from around the Castlemaine area, and sailed a Sailfish at Cairn Curran. Not only that, but he was at the November Cairn Curran Regatta of the Big Blow in the mid ‘60’s and it was only recently that we discovered we had sailed the same class at the same memorable Regatta. A sudden, very strong change from a northerly to a gale force southerly caught all unawares and saw the likes of Quickcats cartwheeling from the starting line towards the  Club. The Sailfish skippers that hadn’t left shore crouched behind their boats so as not to be peppered by pebbles, which were blowing with the grit and sand across the beach.

I still can’t believe how lucky and fortunate I was to come across the Australian Sailfish Association, and by another stroke of luck, join Elwood Sailing Club, the home base of the Class at the time, and the home of the top skippers.

It was the Australian Sailfish, the Association and it’s members, taking me into the fold and encouraging me to attend Regattas, that are still my fondest memories of sailing, recalling the Association, and the members who made it.

 

 

 

September 2018 Header Photo

Heat start at the 1979/80 National Titles held on Lake Wendouree, Ballarat.

From the left, 3054 behind the starting boat, skipper unknown; 3390 Muffin, Chris Drury; 3352 Holy Handgrenade, David Spiers; 2159 Silent Running, Warren Jones; 3336 Mutated Tomato, Craig Ginnivan; 3366 Mud Shoveller, Peter Coburn; 3363 Reed Rat, skipper unknown.

Photo from Drury family album, December 1979/January 1980, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat.

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:

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[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.

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Martin and the amazing folding boat, folded. [Kortlucke Family album, date unknown]
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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.

 

Bruce Scott – The other half of the team

Many of us who have been around the Australian Sailfish for a while know a bit about Jack Carroll’s involvement with designing the boat and the development of the class. But not all of us know that Jack was just one half of the team that brought our great little boat into being. The other half was Jack’s very good mate Bruce Scott.

When Chris Cleary and I sat down with Jack in September of 2016 to gather some of the class history that led to this website, Jack said that it was Bruce who turned up one day with some American sailing magazines that showed the Alcort Sailfish saying “this is what we need Jack, something like this”. From that discussion came the Australian Sailfish.

Peter Scott, Bruce Scott’s son, has supplied a bit of background about his dad, so here it is, with only minor editorial meddling from me:

 

I’ll note down a few thoughts that come to mind about dad:

I do recall dad describing his early days of sailing when he lived in Glenhuntly and towed his boat with his push bike from there to Elwood sailing club via North road and often having passersby help push his boat up the hill near Brighton Cemetery.  Trip one way is around 7 km  – quite the ride.

He accomplished so much in his life and whatever his interest changed to over the years he always took them to their limits. All of which always included all of the family.

His interest in sailing was always with improving designs and his craft as a signwriter had him doing the names on most of the yachts at whichever yacht club he was sailing from. Each one done with such detail and pride in his work.

His artwork also extended to detailing various models that are still within the Melbourne Museum. Donald Campbell’s Bluebird and a hot air balloon that had him painting with one hair on the brush to get the details are still there.

He also had a fascination with travelling around Australia, which took him away from sailing.

Filming and retracing the early explorers across Australia was his focus for many years. Little things like having the 4×4 customized to utilize any spare space to carry supplies, designing a bull bar made of car leaf springs to bounce any stray kangaroos off the front of the vehicle if needed.

There were also the modifications he did to our home to accommodate another interest – movies. In the early 70’s he knocked out walls and closed in the front veranda to build a home theatre complete with 30 real leather theatre seats salvaged from a theatre that had closed down. I recall having movie nights 3 to 4 nights a week where friends and their associated social groups would book a night. He actually managed to get movies before they came out in the city theatres!

Then came the years of self-sufficiency – moving to a country property in Neerim South mum and dad seemed to lead the way in the alternate lifestyle, conducting pottery days, shearing days, log cabin building days, wool spinning days  and so on.

Bruce & Jim
Bruce at Elwood beach. [Scott Family album, Elwood, late 1950’s]
Bruce also ran the very first Australian Sailfish National Titles held at Elwood in 1968/69 acting as Officer of the Day for the entire series and Jack still has Bruce’s detailed committee notes for that event.

 

May 2018 Header Photo

A national Titles heat at Narrabeen, probably 1971/72.

I can see 3000 Slipstream, Jack Carroll, 669 Stampede, Brian Carroll, 3077 Trebor II, Robert Jefferies, 1250 Bounty, Neil Bowles, 3100 GTK, Pat Carroll, 1496 Alvacore, Alex Cordukes, red and yellow tipped sail second from right, James Champion.

Who else can you recognise? Let me know and I will update the post.

Photo from the Bowles Family Album

The Bytheway Boats

From the mid 1970’s through to well into the 80’s Toronto Amateur Sailing Club became a strong centre of the Australian Sailfish in New South Wales. While many people contributed to this, I think it is fair to say that the genesis was Tony Bytheway, who built and then loaned many of the boats that got people sailing. When he wasn’t doing that he was helping others build their own boats – almost the Ray Cross of the northern state, when I think about it.

Here, in Tony’s own words, is the story of many of those boats:

1225. My very first set of Sailfish plans I bought as a youngster. It was many years later before I finally got around to building a ‘Fish and by then those plans had been “misplaced”.

I found page one, with the number on, just last year whilst searching through some sailing paraphernalia looking for some Sailfish souvenirs. I’m keeping that number; I’ve asked Jack to make up a numberplate for me and I’m going to nail it to one of these half finished boats in my collection. Was maybe thinking of calling it “Resurgence” in honour of our class making a bit of a come back.

My second choice for a name is one I’ve had in mind for many years and was reminded of it after watching Ian Urban getting the feel of “Bruce” at Toronto 4oak – “Slippery when Wet”. I have a lot of boats in my collection so I’ll probably use both names somewhere.

2143 – “Sherwood Green”.  The first Sailfish I ever built. Sailed it for a year then loaned it to Graeme Remington for the next year after I’d built my second ‘Fish, 1476. “Sherwood Green” was sold to Chris Turton who sailed it for a year or so and then sold it on to parts unknown.

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2143 Sherwood Green. [Milton Family album, Lake Macquarie, date unknown]
1476 – “Steam & Fly”. “Steam & Fly” was sold to one of Chris Turton’s friends who sailed it for a year and wrecked it, the remains of the hull is part of my collection, the rest of “Steam & Fly” was lost decades ago.

 

The next year I was issued a block of five numbers on behalf of the Toronto club as there was a fair bit of building going on.

 

2161. A young lad by the name Ben Durie started building a ‘Fish after school with some guidance from me and with materials he bought through me. He lost interest about halfway through the build and added school pressure didn’t help either. He gave the lot back to me with the arrangement that when I finished the boat and sold it I would repay him for what he’d spent on the materials. That boat is still part of my collection, unfinished. Unfortunately Ben passed away from cancer in his mid forties. When I finish his boat I’ll name it “Little Ben”

2162. Another incomplete ‘Fish in my collection. (I’ll get to it one day, I just gotta live long enough!).

2163 – “Bluefin”. The boat I built after selling “Steam & Fly”.  I sailed it for a season or so but it was badly injured during a championship series at Toronto.  “Bluefin” was hit by a houseboat during the morning heat which must have softened it up a bit. Then dropping off a big wave whilst gybing during pre start tactics in the afternoon, the hull split from nose block to centreboard case and swallowed half the lake. I sailed it gently back to shore as a submarine.  It now lounges in my shed with all its friends.

2164 – “The Licorice Stick”. Many of us know this one!  Built by a pen pusher (Tony’s good mate Graeme Remington – Greg), it was his first attempt at building a boat. He then painted it his favourite colour (black) and went out and thrashed us all two years in a row. (Graeme won the National Title two years running, first at Toronto in 1980/81 and then at Lake Mokoan in 1981/82 – Greg).  “The Licorice Stick” is still lurking in a shed somewhere in the Castlemaine area.

2165 – “Jim”.  My first prototype fibreglass Sailfish. For the life of me I cannot remember who I sold it to or where it ended up.

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2165 Jim with Jack Carroll on 3000 Slipstream in the background. [Milton Family album, Lake Macquarie, 1980/81 National Titles]
2172 – “Silver Stream”.  Ian (Nobby) Naylor. Another after school project. Sailed quite successfully at club level at Toronto. Was stolen from the Toronto Amateur Sailing Club clubhouse one winter in the mid 80’s. Hasn’t been seen or heard of since.

2173 – “Matrix” Sailed by Mike Turton. (Chris’s younger brother).  This boat was originally found in an old farm shed up the Hunter valley, rigged with a cadet rig of some sort because Mike was a scrawny little bugger, then registered through the Toronto club. Whereabouts unknown.

 

Tony also has the only known surviving mould to build a fibreglass Australian Sailfish from and as you can never have too many Sailfish, he has also recently added the Geelong boat, 3111, that was advertised on the site last year, to his collection.

So there you have it, Tony’s not inconsiderable contribution to the history of the NSW Sailfish Association and sailing in the Toronto area.  A careful read of the above reveals that Tony has many part built or part restored Sailfish in his collection but what he doesn’t have is the space to work on them.  It would be great if someone had some space for Tony to start the restoration work, some of these boats are classics.

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The classic shot of 2165 Jim on Lake Macquarie. [By Warren Broadbent, Lake Macquarie, Dec. ’82/Jan. ’83]

March 2018 Header Photo

Race start at the 1980/81 Toronto National Titles.

Sorry about the quality, this is what sometimes happens when you digitise old photos but you can still pick out a few well known boats in the bunch 2169, 3340 Co-Operate, 2149 Red Pepper, 3399 Pertinacious, and of course 3000 Slipstream among them.

Now less than two weeks away, so get cracking and get packing!

Photo from the Milton Family Album.