Boatbuilder and sailor Ian Smith built the replica of Sydney 18-Footer Britannia in 2002 as an exact replica of the original boat of 1919. The original boat still exists in the care of the Australian National Maritime Museum. Naval architects Alan and David Payne had taken the lines off the boat and Ian was able to use those lines as well as go over the boat to measure all parts in fine detail.
The original boat sailed with the Sydney Flying Squadron fleet of racing 18-footers for 25 seasons, often being the scratch boat and winning several championships. A few seasons after Wee Georgie retired the boat he converted it to a motor launch and took on the job of race starter in Britannia, temporarily he thought, and did it for the next 28 years. The significance of this long Association with the Sydney Flying Squadron is one of the main reasons Ian chose this boat to replicate. Ian and his crew of 9 or 10 have raced the boat every Summer Saturday since launching in October 2002. So the replica is now in its 17th season, and 2019 is the centenary year of the launch of the original. Big celebrations are planned for next October at the Sydney Flying Squadron.
The replica was built using the same timbers, Spotted Gum for the ribs and backbone, NZ Kauri for the seam battens and Australian Red Cedar for the planking, decking , transom, thwarts and centreboard case, with knees of Tea-Tree, all copper-fastened. The hull was planked using batten seam construction, the same method as used in the original boat as well as most of the other hundreds of racing open boats in Sydney from the late 19th Century until the early 1950’s. Ian used his records of the construction of the replica as the focus of his book The Open Boat, the Origin, Evolution and Construction of the Australian Eighteen Footef, published in 2017.
Britannia races with 5 different combinations of rig from the Number One rig which has 750 sq ft (70sqm) in main and jib (for light conditions) to the storm rig of a mere 300 sq ft.