Sydney 18-footers have raced on Sydney Harbour for more than 120 years. They evolved from heavy wooden boats with a crew of 15. These boats require a unique set of skills to manage; they carry a ridiculous amount of sail and crew are used as ballast constantly working to keep the boat upright. One stray puff, a rogue wave or miscalculation and it is all over for the afternoon. A fleet of boats have been built up over the last 20 yrs on the designs of their famous predecessors, constructed between 1900 and 1950. Each has been the subject of research through drawings, photographs and prodding the memory of the few remaining who sailed in the original. They are sailed by a group of ex-sciffies with the aim to preserve the history of Sydney’s classic open skiffs.
Sailors from around the world travel to Australia to sail on one of these boats. The way they are rigged and sailed is a whole new world for even the seasoned sailors. Sailing on one of these unique craft is like no other. The current fleet sails with somewhere between 6 and 12 people. Imagine that many people in the confined space of an 18-footer and you get some idea of the teamwork involved.
You can have it all here at the Squaddy, sailing the historic 18 footers with their coloured designs on the sails for easy identification, handicapped starts so that the first boat over the line wins the race, keeping alive the best traditions of sailing on the Harbour. These handicap starts are also known as Mark Foy Starts as originally devised by the Club’s founder, Mark Foy.
Spectators can get an up-close view of the events on the ferry; there is a barbeque and raffles and the emphasis very much on the three F’s, fun, family and friendship.