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Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong - Incredible spectacle of workmanship

by Bob Appleton OAM on 12 Apr 2012
Classic sail past - Wooden Boat Festival 2012 Teri Dodds - copyright http://www.teridodds.com
Whyte, Just and Moore Wooden Boat Festival was held at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club during Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th March 2012. The recent display of wooden boats really displayed the skills, care and attention given to absolutely beautiful classic wooden boats that obviously, had been carefully restored and maintained and then, obviously painstakingly preened, polished and popped into their pens by particularly patient owners!

The ideal weather and the perfect setting, assisted by a cast of thousands and a small group of dedicated volunteers certainly made this year’s Whyte, Just and Moore Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong a smash hit!

A larger than expected fleet of wooden boats arriving at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club during the Labour Day weekend gave the public a mind boggling weekend over the two day festival, which started with the arrival of absolute classic yachts over the finishing line in the Classic and Modern Wooden Boat Passage Race.

With well in excess of one hundred craft on display, it was no wonder that the sleek greyhounds of the sea were like magnets to the general public!

The Topsail Cutter ‘Sayonara’ of 1897 with her 2079 sq. ft. of sail and ‘Windward II’, built in 1929 are both classic examples of the class of exhibits on display.

In the race,line honours went to Ian McFarlane’s 43 ft. Joubort Black Swan ‘Kingurra’ with the winner on handicap being Carl De Fina’s 39ft cutter, ‘Anitra’ crewed by Aaron, Marcus and Elise De Fina assisted by Chris Hewitt.

What a line up!! ‘Anita’ was built at Triabunna in Tasmania in 1948 with a hull and deck of celery top pine on spotted gum.

More races on the beautifully flat waters of Corio Bay resulted in the 21ft. ‘Nellie Rose’ owned by Russ Watson of Drysdale winning the ‘Yanmar Marine’ Corio Bay Couta Cup. ‘Nellie’ as she’s affectionately known is described as being of the ‘olde’ salt variety, quote:- 'Nellie is a unique little girl with a plumb bow and quite a fine transom!' The sort of ‘gal’ I looked for when I was in the navy!

‘Nellie’ has a history of once belonging to the Geelong St Augustine's orphanage and was built in the early 1900s in Port Fairy.

If anyone wanted a better picture that that of the twenty three classic wooden boats lining up for the ‘4 Winds Marine’ Classic Boat Trophy race, they’d have to search the world. At Geelong, it was served up on a platter!


The stately lady, ‘Sayonara’, said goodbye in Japanese to the fleet by leading for most of the race and taking out line honours. Never-the-less, a ‘wily wolf’ named ‘Lupa Wylo’ won on handicap after stealing the handicapper’s heart!

‘Lupa Wylo’ is a 1936 classic wooden boat, built in Adelaide of Jarrah and Kauri and has been magnificently restored over a two year period by owners Lilliane Caron and Fabrizio Tassalini.

She, ‘Lupa Wylo’ (not Lilliane!) has beautiful bronze winches, traditional timber turning blocks and an Oregon mast and boom with stainless steel rigging.

She, ‘Lupa Wylo’ (not Lilliane! Again!) is easily managed by a small crew under all conditions and she makes a great long distance racer.

Wooden boats came in all sorts of shapes and sizes and the two steam boats choof-choofed around the marina to the toot of their steam hooters!

‘Firefly 2’ has a great description! She’s a Scruffie (my mum used to call me that!) Marine 16ft day boat and was built from a kit and modified a tad. A couple of the frames were added to make the interior larger and the decks planked to give it a little class! She’s now about seven years old. 18ft long, 6ft wide with a draft of approx. 2ft 6ins.

The other ‘Tea Urn’ (which actually had an urn beside the boiler!) was the steam driven ‘Osborne’. Classic boats, classic names! This delightful craft is 24ft overall with a beam of 5 ft. Built of Western Red Cedar, Queensland beech and Tasmanian Blackwood she hits a speed of 6 knots with a steam pressure of 100psi. Let’s break out the water skis!! A delightful craft to see and to ride in.

Many power boats were part of the ‘Navigation Rally’ which was won by ’Cadora’ owned by Chris Ackerman, Rear Commodore of RVMYC in Williamstown.

Herons are the type of yacht that many of us ‘grew up’ with and Ralph Brown’s Heron, ‘Sarie’ was the victor in the Heron series taking out the ‘Norglass’ Trophy.

Geelong lad, Rob Ballard, on board his 23ft. Norwalk Islands Sharpie ‘Route 66’, won the ‘Corio Bay Cup’. ‘Route 66’ is a trailable and was designed by Bruce Kirby, based on the traditional oystering sharpies of Long Island Sound, USA. Rob built Route 66 in his garage from a kit!

What’s a Norwalk Islands Sharpies you say? They are cat ketch rigs with the masts supported in tabernacles which allow for simplicity in raising or lowering the masts for rigging and de-rigging. The masts and booms are carbon fibre. Built in the traditional way of upside down on a jig, using hoop pine keelson, chines and sheers and gaboon ply frames with topsides and deck of 9 mm ply with three layers of 6mm cross planked for her bottom. No mechanical fastenings were used in construction. Now, isn’t that a boat and owner you can admire?!

The judges had a tough job with the ‘Concours d’elegance’. Considering that all the entrants had been built to quite different standards and quite different design specifications, the judges decided to judge according to each ones unique qualifications.

The standard was so high that it was decided to award an ‘honourable mention’ to a beautifully presented, 1971 15ft. ‘Seacraft SR’ motor launch ‘Conquistador’. Owned by Kerry and Noel Palmer, they have used her to enjoy 6,482 hours of family skiing! Successfully too, having won a total of 56 trophies at SSBOC events which includes family marathons.


The overall winner of the ‘Concours d’elegance’ is unquestionably a rare and real ‘Classic’. She is the 44 ft. absolute and complete classic, ‘Windward II.’

Designed by Norm Dallimore, ‘Windward II’ was built by Percy Coverdale in Hobart in 1929 using the finest Australian timbers, King Billy pine on Blue Gum frames. She is roved copper fastened and has a lead keel. With Oregon Spars, she measures 44 ft on the deck, waterline length of 34 ft. 2ins, overall length is 54 ft. 6 ins. Her beam is 10ft. 3 ins. her draft, 6ft. 6ins. and she displaces 13 tons.

Whilst racing was progressing on the water, the ‘on shore’ activities were full of surprises. Among the highlights and willing to talk boats with anyone were that amazing pair of adventurers, Lin and Larry Pardey. They have been round the world, east and west-about, against the prevailing wind south of the great southern capes and have voyaged more than 200,000 miles together on self-built engine-free wooden boats! In 2010 they were awarded The Cruising Club of America’s prestigious Far Horizons Award.

Undoubtedly, the world’s wisest wonders of wooden boat wisdom and they were part of the Whyte, Just and Moore Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong. Wow!


One of the greatest draw cards was the ‘Notorious’. She’s an almost brand new, full-size, copy of a 15th century caravel and is Australia's oldest ship re-construction! Lateen rigged, just 21 metres long and weighs 70 tonnes.

Caravels were used by Bartholomew Diaz around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and in 1492 by Christopher Columbus in his ‘Santa Maria’! He was accompanied by two caravels, the ‘Pinta’ and ‘Nina’, both 4 metres shorter than ‘Notorious’! Ferdinand Magellan circum-navigated the world in 1519 to 1522 in caravels!

The ‘Notorious’ is Lateen rigged, a rig that can be seen off the coast of India and on the Arab dhows in the Suez Canal today! Early history actually unfolded before everyone’s weather beaten eyes!

Built entirely from reclaimed timber and without felling a single tree, amateur boat-builder, Graeme Wylie built ‘Notorious’ almost with his bare hands! Notorious was open for inspection during the festival.

The perfect viewing site at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club enabled every display to be close to, or actually on, shore. This made everything easily visible to all viewers.

Children were not forgotten and their entertainer, pirate Cap’n Jack Sparrow had them enthralled! In the theatrette, local entertainers Colin Mockett and Shirley Power gave running commentaries to the ancient ‘movies’ showing yachting and seaside life in the days of yore.


And – of course, the topsail schooner, ‘Enterprize’!

There aren't many vessels that can be said to have been present at the birth of a city. But it was from the original topsail schooner Enterprize that a handful of settlers disembarked on the Yarra River on August 30, 1835, to begin the settlement which is now a capital of around 3.5-million people. Today's replica Enterprize was constructed in Melbourne and launched in 1997 to commemorate that event. Colonisation was already under way in Tasmania in the 1830s, and the schooner brought settlers from Launceston. Throughout the entire weekend, the Enterprize was kept very busy carrying out sea trips.

Onshore, a jazz band entertained during the afternoons and ‘Rock and Roll’ with the Hoos Bros got the ‘sea legs’ working at night.

On top of all that, boat building displays, featuring local boat builders demonstrated chalking, laminating and steam bending. Model steam engines ‘chuffed’ away to everyone’s delight and extremely high quality model boats were proudly displayed by their makers.

With all this at your disposal, you must put ‘Labour day weekend 2014’ into your diary now so you do not miss this incredibly wonderful spectacle of fine workmanship.

Now ‘Splice the main-brace’!!



Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong website

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