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Death of a legend in Australian skiff sailing

by Peter Campbell on 8 Sep 2013
Peter Campbell
A legend in Australian skiff sailing and a fine ocean racing skipper, Jack Cassidy, passed away in his home city of Perth on 1st September, at the age of 92.

Jack sailed 16-foot skiffs in Western Australia during the 1950s and 1960s, winning six Australian championships between 1953 and 1964, plus countless WA titles.

All of his 17 skiffs and later this five ocean racing yachts were named Evelyn after his wife. The cold-moulded timber 55-footer Evelyn competed in several Sydney Hobarts, finishing fourth across the line and fourth on handicap in the 1980 race as well as another third on line.

He also skippered Evelyn to victory in one of WA’s major ocean races, the Fremantle to Geraldton race.

Jack was a relentless innovator in the sailing industry, unique in that he designed and built his boats, made the sails and many of the fittings – and then sailed them to victory.

An icon in the WA yachting industry, building Jack Cassidy Sails into one of the best known sail brands in Australia. Many, many dinghy sailors will have used his sails with their famous arrow head insignia.

Over his many years sailing 16s, Jack Cassidy would have seen many changes to this uniquely Australian three-man dinghy, a class whose history dates back more than 100 years.

In Jack’s heyday huge fleets would gather from around Australia for the national championships, achieving outstanding performances from the then quite heavy hulls.

Today’s skiffs have a crew of three, two on trapeze, carrying large masthead asymmetrical spinnakers.

Jack is survived by his wife and his three children.

A funeral service will be held tomorrow, Monday, 9th September at 10.30am at the Karrakatta Cemetery, Nedlands, WA. The wake will begin at 1200 hours at his beloved Mounts Bay Sailing Club, Crawley Bay, Nedlands, with the family welcoming Jack’s friends.

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