The traditional tale of early Australian sailing history, whether told in the club bar or in print, is dominated by the classes that were sailed in Sydney. But around the rest of the huge coastline of the sparsely-populated continent other dinghy sailors were creating their own designs, suited to their own conditions. The common ground on which they met was the 14 Footers – a class that evolved from a clutch of very different local designs into a force that dominated dinghy sailing in the southern and western states of Victoria, South Australia and West Australia for decades.
As always, the direction and pace of development was affected by politics and society as well as by geography. As late as 1920, Australia had the same population as that of New York, but spread over an area almost as big as “mainland” USA. Perth, one of the main sailing cities, is still the most isolated city on earth. Each state had been an independent colony until the nation of Australia was formed in 1901, and local pride still ran deep. National championships were seen by both the sailors and the newspapers of each state as a chance to display the quality of their local sailors and boats, but transporting a single dinghy and crew across the country to a regatta cost as much as a year’s average wage. The high cost of transportation meant that for many years, states ran trials to select a representative boat or team and then subsidised their freight with fund raised by clubs, other sailors and fund raising activities. To keep the racing fair, in some classes only boats that were on a state team were permitted to enter the nationals. It was a system that highlighted the rivalry between each state’s stream of design thinking, and also encouraged parochial newspapers to provide some detailed coverage of the exploits and designs of their home-state heroes.
The dinghies of the southern and western states were shaped by different conditions to those of the east coast. In the states of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia the winds are often stronger, the water normally colder. South Australia and Victoria also suffer from the handicap of having their capital cities located on wide open expanses of rough water, where sheltered sailing waters and even sheltered launching spots were rare.
Perhaps because of the conditions, in the early days of dinghy sailing the fleets in the southern and western states were smaller than those to the north and east. Perhaps it was the need to maintain critical mass in such small and isolated communities that lead so many of the sailors of these states to stay loyally attached to 14 Footers, instead of scattering into a bewildering array like Sydney and Brisbane did.
In the West
Western Australia is an interesting place to start the story. Organised dinghy sailing in the west started early. The flat waters and the famous Fremantle Doctor seabreeze of the Swan River in the state capital of Perth offer superb sailing conditions, so it was no surprise to see occasional racing amongst miscellaneous dinghies and sailing canoes as early as the 1870s, when the population of the fledgling town perched between the ocean and the desert was less than 10,000. By 1898, when the population of Perth spiked due to a short-lived goldrush, an organised racing association had been formed. Since Perth has comparatively warm and steady winds and flat water, it’s not surprising that they adopted similar designs to those that had been developed in the similar conditions of Brisbane and Sydney. The main classes were of 14, 16 and 18 Footers with unlimited rigs but crews “limited” to six, eight and ten respectively . In the same year, Perth sailors started importing 14 Foot Dinghies from NSW.   The early boats of the Perth Dinghy Club, formed in October 1903 as the state’s first specialist small-boat organisation, look as if they could have come straight from the waters of Sydney or Brisbane.  
West Australian sailing also had Rater influence, with a fleet that included some Swallow scows built from plans in The Rudder magazine. There was also an early (1898) attempt to form a class of 12 footers with one-design hulls and limited crew but unlimited rigs, “so cheap as to be within the reach of all” had been attempted.  It was almost certainly the first one design class in the country, but in a symbol of the times the one design concept seems to have been killed at birth by those who favoured development classes. 
While the sailors from the west adopted designs from the east, they were not just imitators. As early as 1907 they ran the national 18 Footer championship, a major undertaking involving shipping a Sydney representative 4,400 nautical miles. In unusually light winds for the Swan, WA’s Aeolus dealt a blow to Sydney prestige by beating her near sister Australian, the “crack” of Sydney Harbour and skippered by the famous Chris Webb, for the title.   In the 1908/09 and seasons WA was on top again, winning the national title for 14 Footers. The crew of Perth’s Elma saw the Ten Footer class in action in Sydney while they were winning the 14 Footer nationals and led to them being adopted as a training class for the 14 Footers on the Swan, until a clubhouse fire destroyed the entire fleet. It was perhaps yet another example of the close links between the two eastern states and WA.
Perth’s indigenous class of big-rig 16 Footers and the 18 Footers were both to be replaced by the 16 Foot Skiff class in later years, but Perth’s Fourteen Footer fleet stayed strong even when the class faded away in Brisbane and Sydney, and it was there when the class revived with a new style of boat that evolved in the southern states of Victoria and South Australia. It is to those states where we turn next in the story of Australian dinghy sailing.
The colourful early days of dinghy sailing in Victoria, the second most populous state, came to an end as the 19th century drew to a close among drought and depression. The sport as we know it seems to have almost collapsed. In these days of light boats, wetsuits and buoyancy tanks the state capital of Melbourne offers superb conditions for dinghy sailors, but 120 years ago few small-boat sailors were prepared to take on the rough open waters of Port Phillip Bay or the narrow confines of the few sheltered waterways in the area. Perhaps it was improved technology (the famous St Kilda Dinghy Club, for example, installed an electric winch to ease the task of dragging the boats over the beach), but for some reason in the early 1900s dinghy sailing finally revived in Victoria. A group of fishermen around Melbourne started racing their boats against each other and in 1906, they formed the St Kilda Dinghy and Angling Club. At first the fleet included ballasted boats from 13 to 15 feet long but the club soon brought in class rules. Hulls were limited to a length of 14ft, beam of 5ft7in, a depth of 2ft, and a maximum centreboard weight of 4.5lb per square foot, but they left sail area and crew unrestricted.
The fledgling fleet of 14s immediately caught the eye of spectators and other sailors. By 1907, reporters wrote enthusiastically of the “large fleet” of 11 14s at a regatta and of their hard-fought start which was “the feature of the day”. By 1908, the races for the 14s were said to be causing great excitement for spectators and the skill of the crews was an “object lesson” for the yachties.
In the 1910/11 season, just a few years after the class had started in Victorian, the Melbournians created a new shape – the pram-bowed “snub nose” dinghies. The snub nose boats seem to have been driven by the search of designer/builder Charles Peel for a type that was smaller and more seaworthy than the over-canvassed boats from the western and northern states, yet more powerful than the earlier and more conventional Victorian designs. “The cunning Charlie Peel had subverted the class rule by designing a boat 16 feet long and on the plan had removed 2 feet of the bow” recalled South Australia’s Neal Cormack many years later. “Thus when this boat was “hard on the wind” and beating to windward dragging her lee rail in the sea she was virtually 16 feet long.”
“Each (of the snub-nosed boats) has a square, blunt nose, just as if the builder had sawn some 12in. off the bow and planked up the gap” noted a paper. “The club’s rule limits the length of these little sailing-boats to 14ft. overall, so that by this device just mentioned a builder is enabled to get a far more powerful body for his limit length, and can thus carry a good deal of extra canvas….It was thought that what the new boats might gain in power they would lose in heavy weather, owing to the tendency of their blunted noses to “punch” the seas. Experience, however,looks like showing that very little punching occurs at all, while the gain in power is very considerable.”
Fast they may have been, but not even the owners seemed to think the snub-nosed boats were attractive; the best of the lot was named John Nimmo, because her owner thought she looked like a local dredge of that name. They could be lifted by two men and compared to their contemporaries they were lightweightss, despite still carrying a boom of up to 19ft, a 20ft boom and beam of about 5ft9in.
The snubs seemed to be an ideal compromise between the slender older Victorian boats and the older beamy over-canvassed style inherited from NSW and Queensland. They still carried large rigs – a sistership to John Nimmo was said to carry 425 sq ft of sail upwind – but as Nimmo’s famous skipper HC Brooks noted, the Victorian boats were “light and narrow” compared to their contemporaries from other states. “There is altogether too much effort attached to them” he said of the older NSW craft and the boats from SA and WA . “They are too big and heavy, they carry too many in the crew, too much sail, and too much gear. As a consequence, they literally have to push their way through the water. The John Nimmo and other Victorian craft are strongly but lightly built. They carry light crews and small sails, and sail over the water rather than through it….our boats are in every way cheaper and easier to handle.”
The Victorian interest in innovative design had its limits, though. When the hard-chine “freak” Tasma was brought over from the island state of Tasmania and started winning, hard chines were promptly banned by the Victorian 14 Footer class, although the club compensated the owner by buying the boat from him.
The snub bow boats kicked off a quarter of a century of post WW1 dominance by the Victorians. Their major rivals came from their neighbouring state of South Australia; a region where organised dinghy sailing seems to have started with the 14 Footers.
South Australians faced similar conditions to the Victorians. Their capital city of Adelaide also fronted a large and rough open expanse of water with few boat harbours and only a narrow river. It seems that there were the usual regatta events in length classes in the 1800s, but early competitive sailing was the domain of yachts. Small boat sailing really arrived when the Port Adelaide Sailing Club was formed in 1897, and serious competition started with the first interclub 14 Footer races in 1910. While the Port Adelaide club had sailed on the narrow water of the sheltered Port River, the later clubs sailed from the open beaches fronting onto Spencer Gulf. The sailors from these clubs normally had to carry their boats over wide, sandy beaches and launch into breaking surf waves; a procedure that seems to have encouraged lighter and more seaworthy boats than the types seen in Sydney and Brisbane.
Like their Victorian neighbours, the South Australians initially concentrated on 14 footers with a few limits imposed for interclub racing; 6ft beam, three crew, and “limited” to 300 sq ft of sail, but (not surprisingly given the sail area) within a few years they were packing half a dozen aboard. Vigilant, the first South Australian boat to enter a national title, was said to have been a miniature version of the failed Linton Hope 22 Footer Bronzewing, which may indicate that she had a very full and flared bow. Compared to the Sydney and Queensland boats of the day, she was notable for her small rig – “dingy rater” was one description; a nice cruiser was the essence of another. Although she finished well back, one source said that Vigilant made up ground when the wind picked up later in the race, perhaps aided by her novel roller-reefing gear. When the West Australian champion Edna dropped in to race in Adelaide in 1913 she showed “far greater pace than had been witnessed in its class in South Australia before”.
In its early days the fleet seems to have been a mixture of beamy overcanvassed racing boats from interstate builders, like the former Sydney boat St George, and more seaworthy local types. Some of the early South Australian boats followed the “bigger is better” theme that was typical of 14s from Sydney or Brisbane. Radiant, built by a Sydney builder, was 7ft7in wide, had 11 sails, and carried 485 sq ft of sail upwind in a breeze. They seem to have been a motley collection; in 1922, a South Australian paper put the state last in the interstate pecking order in the 14 Footer class. “The chief fault of the local boats seems to lie in the fact that owners and builders in this State do not aim at uniformity or improvement of type. Length is the only essential worried about to any extent, and boats of all shapes and sizes are on the rolls of the different club registers. Victoria has adopted, a set type of fourteen footer, and every yacht racing in the sister State conforms, more or less, to a recognised standard. And Victoria leads the way.”
With help from Victoria’s leading skipper, Mick Brooke, the South Australians got boats built in Victoria and soon made up for their harsh home waters and late start. Just two years after being ranked last among the states, White Cloud won the 14 Footer national title; the state’s first top level victory. By the late 1920s there were 2000 sailing club members in the state, and the 14 Footers were dominant at home and at national level.
By the 20s a typical top SA 14 Footer was 5ft wide, 2 feet deep, and had two rigs; one with 300 sq ft of working sail and one with 200 sq ft. Centreboards were of 3/16in steel plate, measuring 4ft6in by 2ft, and a six-man crew completed the basic design. Unconventional boats were also tried, and as early as 1923 there were self-bailing boats like Gwen, which was described as a long and low boat along the style of Maid of Kent.
In a symbol of the emerging split within Australian dinghy sailing, South Australia’s rise as a force to be reckoned with in 14 Footers roughly coincided with the class’ fading days in the old powerhouse states of Queensland and NSW. In earlier decades, the old-style 14 Foot Dinghy had been the class where emerging Sydney talent proved itself before moving into the 22 and 24 Footers, but the Sydney Harbour fleet had faded away as the 18 Footer class and the 16 Foot Skiffs became dominant. The main fleet of Fourteens moved to Botany Bay, on the southern side of the city and out of the limelight, and were then replaced by 16 Foot Skiffs. The Queensland fleet also faded, and as in NSW many of the boats were sold to West Australia and South Australia.
When NSW returned to the 14 Footer championships in the 1920s, it was with a very different sort of boat to the old big-rig “dinghies”. The sailing club from Birchgrove on the Balmain peninsula had originally started out with a fleet of miscellaneous small boats and then adopted the 14 Foot Skiff rules that had been created at the same meeting that created the 16 Foot Skiff class. The 14 Foot Skiffs were “of a very different type to the Victorian, South Australian and West Australian dinghys”. One Sydney sailor described the Sydney Skiffs as “a much improved rowing skiff, with no decking or lee cloths allowed, and are restricted to 14 ft in length with a beam of 5. ft 6 in inside of gunwales, which must not exceed 2 1/2 in width.”
The tale of the 14 Foot Skiffs shows that the snub-bowed 14 Footers and their contemporaries that had been developed in the southern states were quick boats. Restricted to a crew of five and a working sail area of 230 sq ft, the Sydney 14 Foot Skiffs were never able to compete with the likes of John Nimmo or South Australia’s White Cloud. As one account noted, the NSW style of boat was “hopelessly beaten by the ‘snub-nosed’ boats of other States, and it was once again proved that the Skiffs, with their limited sail areas and small beams, had not the slightest hope of defeating the big dinghies of the other states, which carried big booming out spars, topsails and ringtails.” In 1924 the Sydney fleet bowed to the inevitable and dropped the old “skiff” restrictions, but in NSW the class has never been as popular as the 12s, 16s and 18s and by 1929 the state had dropped out of national titles.
Many 14s of the ’20s and ’30s had long lives at the top; John Nimmo won the Victorian state titles over a dozen times and Triad won her first national title in 1932/33 and her last in 1947/48. The long careers of such boats and the huge rigs that we see in black and white photos seems to underline the myth that they were sailed by unsophisticated hard-driving maniacs who knew nothing of lighter and more efficient designs. It’s a tale that is even echoed by the International 14’s history, which claims that it was not until the 1950s that the Australian 14 sailors “discovered…that by reducing both sail area and crew, and using lighter boats, a faster all round craft could be produced.”
As so often happens, the real men of history were smarter and more sophisticated than those who are portrayed in the myth. Many of the top 14 Footer sailors like O.J. “Pat” O’Grady, a national champion whose portrait in neat tie and glasses belies the fact that he was a state representative in football, bowls and sailing, were probably very aware of lighter boats and leading-edge technology. O’Grady had been a champion in the Grange Punts, skinny, flat and small-rigged 18 footers that could beat the 14s downwind in strong winds. His forward hand, golf champion W S Rymill, came from the family that dominated national unlimited powerboat racing and was another Punt veteran. Such men seem unlikely to have been scared of technology or lightweight boats; they would have sailed the snub-bow 14s because they were the fastest all-round boats within the class restrictions, and they innovated where they could.
In 1930 O.J. O’Grady drove Sunny South to victory in the national title carrying the big rig even in strong winds, balancing it by putting the athletic Rymill on an “outrigger…a loose plank measuring eight feet by five inches by one inch (which is) placed under a fitting on the lee side of the boat, and projects three or four feet out to windward.” The sailors from all other states were both resistant – they all opposed the ‘outrigger’ because of it could not be used on their rougher or puffier home waters and because of the effect it would have on design – and farsighted. “In time two or even three would be used, and the boats would resemble native canoes more than dinghies” warned one abolitionist. “In time the use of outriggers would lead to a hinged gunwale on both sides, which could be brought inboard each time the boat was put about” said another, anticipating the 18 Foot Skiff “flopper” wings of half a century later.
Today some would see the ban on “outriggers” as a retrograde step, but when experts like Nimmo’s skipper Brooke agreed with the ban it’s apparent that there was sound cause. Canoes had already vanished from the Australian sailing scene, and canoe-like 14s would probably have gone the same way; under the heavy rigs of the time, they would have been too tippy for the fleets to maintain critical mass. The cost of alterations must also have been an issue. Australia was one of the countries hit worst by the great depression, and by 1930 it looked as if the entire national championship may have to be cancelled due to lack of funds. This was not a time to make the existing boats obsolete.
Cost control was one of the themes of the class as Australia struggled through the 1930s depression. Some of the South Australian boats had were said to have up to six “suits of sails, thereby bringing their cost into the vicinity of £300″ or well over a year’s average wage. Many of the sailors were affluent – the head of Victoria’s 14 Footer club also owned a 6 Metre while Rymill and O J O’Grady ended up as successful businessmen- but the cost of running a 14 Footer was so great that many were owned by syndicates. There were attempts to create cheaper one-design 14 classes in both Victoria and in NSW but nothing succeeded. What seems to have worked was the continuing reduction in boat and rig size. When Victoria’s Bill Osborne built his new boat Triad in 1927 with just 5ft beam, it was believed that she would stand no chance against the more powerful 5’7” snubs. Instead Triad became one of the most successful boats to ever race in Australia, winning the national title six times and leading the way to a smaller type of 14.
Today, Triad looks like a fairly standard boat, and it’s hard to see what made her so successful. By the early 1920s, Osborne was crediting much of the success of his earlier 14 Footers with the “marconi” or bermudan rig he used on his third (high-wind) rig, and apparently he tried a bermudan big rig initially with Triad. Even a bermuda fan like Osborne, however, used a gunter rig on his two biggest sets of sails until around WW2, because he felt that “the exceedingly long mast needed to set these sails would cripple such a small boat as a 14-footer”. Full battens and moderate roaches were seen in the fleet by the end of the decade, and some late photos appear to show Triad using a bermudan rig even for light winds – perhaps it was gradual development in lighter or more controllable rigs that allowed Triad to beat the larger and more powerful boats?
The move to cheaper and smaller Fourteens was reinforced by a rule change in 1937 that restricted them to 220 sq ft of upwind sail, a 250 sq ft spinnaker, 150 sq ft “ballooner” or reaching genoa, a mast 26’ above the gunwale, and of any beam but with no projection more than 3” past gunwale.  Triad survived as a top class boat until she won the nationals in the 1947/48 season. She is one of the few older Australian racing boats that still exists today; when she became too old to race, her owner cut her in two and presented the halves to two clubs.
To our eyes the Australian 14s before WW2 may appear unsophisticated and slow. The truth seems to be quite different. The smaller boats, like Birchgrove’s 14 Foot Skiffs, the small one design Fourteen created by Osborne and the few Uffa Fox designed International 14s that were built in Adelaide, could not beat the snubs. Men like O’Grady and Brooke didn’t carry their big sails and big crews because they knew no better – like Uffa Fox and the other northern hemisphere 14 Footer sailors, they did what was best to win within the rules.
Even as the 14 Footers became firmly established around the country in the 1930s, a new style of boat was developing. Australia had always had a long but little-known group of local classes, mostly with hard chine hulls, that were much lighter and carried much smaller rigs than the 14s, skiffs and 18s, and in the 1930s. In the 1930s, the lightweight dinghies started to come out of the shadow and take on a distinctive form that would go on to play a vital but under-appreciated role in the development of the modern racing dinghy.
“At first the fleet included ballasted boats from 13 to 15 feet long”:- Winner, 7 Oct 1914
1914 – Lee cloths, already permitted in other states, allowed in Victoria in 1914. 
1922 – Victoria falls in with other states and permits hard chine boats. The old Tasma promptly returns to racing, finishes second, but later allegedly proves uncompetitive. 
Perth Dinghy Club had its first race on in October 1903 racing conventional-looking big rig “dinghies” like that of Sydney and Brisbane. They carried two or more rigs
As early as 1907 there was a start in adopting uniform 14 Footer rules (Evening News 31 Jan 1907 p2.
NSW withdrew from 14s 1929
Violet – 7’ beam, 6’ tuck, 22ft mainsail boom,13ft gaff, 12’6” luff, 25ft aft leach, 12ft bowsprit, 13’6” jib foot, big kite has small yard 33 ft x 27’6” x 28’
Vilet info from Oxleyt SC history; 97 ¾ sq ft jib; 293 q ft main; 498 sq ft spinnaker, gaff topsail 30 = 1141 sq ft
“”far greater pace than had been witnessed”:- Observer 22 March 1913
1913 – SA had limits on beam, decks and Sail area
Allegedly Edna used an 18ft skiff rig 2000 fdt2 for national title in 1913 ( Later, Triad used just 150 sq ft of sail in high winds although initially Osborne said that she had carried 800ft on a few occasions witH normal crew.
“The skiffs, with their limited sail area and small beams, had not he slightest hope of defeating hte big dinghies of hte other states, which carried big booming out spars, topsails and ringtails.” Referee 27 Feb 1924
1924 – Birchgrove boats were “of the skiff type” with rig that “look more like a pocket handkerchiefs when compred with the gear of the Victorians.” They were outclassed in the nationals, won by Nimmo. The Sydney boats were originally undecked but decks were allowed when they became racing against interstate boats. o
1929 – 4’6” to 6ft beam, 300sq ft upwind, unlimited kites. Sporting Globe Me;lb 19 Jan 1929 p 5
1938 – 22q st ft, 5’ orless beam, beaten by 6’4” Vamp which had “enormous” spin, ¾ crew. IMpudenece “ OFF THE WIND NAD in light weather, she ois remarkably fast,” as quick as 21sa
WA reduced to 220 ft upwind and 200 spin, banned ringtails; Vic reluctant to follow.New Call and Bailey’s Weekly, WA, 21 Mar 1935 p 15
As late as , there was a move to limit sail size to 300ft in mainsail and jib, and restrict the class to two rigs.
 The Ballarat Star, 4 Nov 1879 p 4
 The Ballarat Star, 21 June 1880
 Leader (Melb) 24 Nov 1883 p 21
 Brisbane Courier, 12 Dec 1866 p 2
 Winner (Melbourne) 7 Oct 1914 p 11
 The Australasian, 6 April 1907 p 23
“New South Wales and West Australia favoured the extremely beamy overcanvassed boat” The Register, 26 Oct 1923
“Each had a square blunt nose”:- The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954) Saturday 19 September 1925
“When the snubs first came up against the boats”:- This was in the interstate 14 footer grand challenge cup races of 1913 in Melbourne. The defeated fleet included the 1912 national champion Rene from NSW. The history of the early championships is slightly confused because sometimes a trophy that was put up for the national championship could become the property of any boat that won it three times, and a new trophy had to be obtained.
“Small boat sailing arrived when the Port Adelaide Sailing Club was formed in 1897”; most of the information about the early days of SA dinghies comes from an article by 14 Footer champ Alan J O’Grady in Saturday Journal, 23 Feb 1929.
“There is altogether too much effort attached to them”:- The Journal, 21 Apr 22
“Vigilant made up ground when the wind picked up later in the race,
“perhaps aided by her novel roller-reefing gear”:- Referee, 30 Jan 1907 p 9
“Radiant, built by a Sydney builder, was 7ft7in wide, had 11 sails, and carried 485 sq ft of sail upwind in a breeze.” Referee, 5 Jan 1921
“She was over 7ft in beam and carried over 1400 sq ft of sail in a rig that stretched 42ft from the bowsprit to the boom end”: details from Referee, 5 Jan 1921, and Cormack
“In 1922, a South Australian paper”;- Mail (Adelaide, SA) 20 October 1922
“there were self-bailing boats like Gwen”:- News, 11 Feb 1927. Gwen could capsize and recover almost straight away but was said to be intended for flat water.
“as late as 1925”; Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), Friday 18 December 1925
 The Australasian, 22 Feb 1908 p 26. The same reference says that 12 footers were also allowed to race, but no more can be found about them.
 Winner (Melbourne) 7 Oct 1914 p 11
“The cunning Charlie Peel had subverted the class rule”: “The Foundation of Largs Bay Dinghy Club” by Neil Cormack, Largs Bay Sailing Club website.
 The Australasian (Melb) 18 Nov 1922 p 23
 The Argus (Melb) 5 Dec 1910 p 4
“The dinghies lost popularity on account of the 18-Footers” :- Referee, 27 Feb 1924
 The Mercury (Hobart) 21 Aug 1937 p 16
 The Mercury (Hobart) 15 Feb 1928 p 6. Most of the snubs actually carried six crew.
“By the early 1920s, Osborne was crediting much of the success”:- Sporting Globe, 21 Jan 1925
“In 1928 a limit of 300 sq ft was brought in for main and jib”; The Register, 10 Feb 1928
“In 1949, the western Australians started to advocate 180 sq ft rigs”:- The Daily News, 24 Nov 1949
 The Age, Oct 27 1913 p 8
“In the early 1900s, a group of fishermen around Melbourne started racing their boats against each other”:- Winner, 7 Oct 1914
 The Brisbane Courier 3 Nov 1898 p 6
 The Telegraph (Brisbane) 30 Dec 1898 p 6
 The Telegraph (Brisbane) 13 Jan 1899 p 6
 The West Australian, 14 June 1898 p 6 marks the start of reporting of this political saga. Even a crew-weight limit was proposed to ensure that juniors had a chance; Western Mail 1 July 1898 p 39
 The West Australian 14 Jan 1899 p 6 mentions that “only four or five” one design owners were anxious to race.
 The Daily news (Perth) 25 June 1898 p 5; also West Australian 27 May 1898. The 14s were to be allowed six crew, the 16s eight and the 18s 10; more than enough by most standards!
 The 14s are mentioned in Western Mail 3 June 1898 p 44; 18s TBA.
 The West Australian, 28 Oct 1903 p 8
 Western Mail, 26 Dec 1903 p 27. Elma, one of the original members of the Perth 14 fleet, was built to a design by Dunn of Sydney, creator of Clio. Her beam was 6’8”, 4’3” tuck, 2’1” deep, centrebpoard 4’ droppoing 5’ below the keel, ½” cedar planking, 4 ½” spring, 6” heel, short boom 19’, long boom 21’, 7 ½” frame spacing. The West Australian, 24 Oct 1903 p 8. She was joined by local boats and by Etna, a former Brisbane 14; The West Australian 10 Oct 1903 p 8. There was also a report of a former Sydney 14, Ena which was champion of the Swan. West Ayutralian 14 Mar 1903 p 8 In 1987 the then 14 year old Hero former champ Sydny boat, was top and she remained second best till at least 1901; West Australian 23 Nov 1901 p 9
 Western Mail, 30 Jan 1904 p 38
 See for example the pics in ht eWestern Mail of 6 Feb 1904 p 24-27
“Owned and skippered by an expatriate Scot”:- The West Australian 7 Nov 1933. It’s interesting
“The crew of Perth’s Elma saw the Ten Footer class in action”:- The West Australian 15 Dec 1934
 The Daily News (Perth) 26 Jan 1907 p 14
 The Mercury (Hobart) 21 Aug 1937 p 16
 The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide) 20 March 1913 p 4
““outrigger…a loose plank”:- The Mail 18 Jan 1930
“by the late 1920s there were 2000 club members”; Saturday Journal, 23 Feb 1929
Dimensions of SA 14s; Saturday Journal, 23 Feb 1929
“The snub-bowed types were said to be light enough to be lifted by two men”; Port Adelaide News 24 Mar 1922 and The Journal of the same day. These pieces contain more information about the design of the snub nosed boats.
 The West Australiuan, 24 Jan 1936 p 13
“Like their neighbours, the South Australians initially concentrated on 14 footers with 6ft beam, three crew, and “limited” to 300 sq ft of sail”- The Express and Telegraph, 21 Nov 1903 p 3.???
 The Advertiser (Adelaide) 31 Jan 1930 p 10. Sunny South made the news again a few years, when tragically five of her crew (not including her champion skipper and forward hand) were drowned when she capsized in a squall; Sporting Globe (Melb) 30 March 1932 p 7
“by 1930 it looked as if the national championship may have to be cancelled due to lack of funds.” See for example The Register News Pictorial and The Advertiser both of 17 Oct 1930
“There were plans, and some boats, to separate one design 14 classes in both Victoria and in NSW. ” The Victorian proposal was by Bill Osborne of the champion Triad, and was for one design hulls and open rig. The NSW proposal was for a “vee bottom” snub nosed chine boat with extensive decking, buoayncy compartments and a small rig. It was designed by New Zealand’s Jack Brooke. A blurred photo in The Sun 12 Jan 1933 shows a small low-aspect rig of 90 sq ft. This Birchgrove One Design was intended to cost just 15 pounds; a fraction of the price of a normal 14. Although hopes were high for a success and Brooke’s designs were successful in NZ, it seems to have faded instantly.
 The West Australian 20 Jan 1936 p 17
“the Birchgrove club near Balmain had replaced its miscellaneous class with boats built to the 14 Foot Skiff restrictions promulgated by the Port Jackson Skiff Club in 1901.”; Referee. 27 Feb 1924
“of a very different type to the Victorian, South Australian and West Australian dinghys”:- The Journal (SA) 21 April 1922
“The top NSW skiff was “hopelessly beaten by the ‘snub-nosed’ boats”:- Referee, 27 Feb 1924. This was a reference to the performance of NSW boats in both the 1922-23 and 1923-24 titles.
“In 1924 the Sydney fleet bowed to the inevitable and dropped the old “skiff” restrictions”:- Evening News, 2 Sep 1924
 Arrow (Sydney) 22 Feb 1924 p 15
 Arrow (Sydney) 22 Feb 1924 p 15
 Sporting Globe (Melb) 27 Feb 1924 p 12
 The Advertiser (Adelaide) 18 Feb 1938 p 19
 The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly May 1927 p 30
“Up to six feet in beam”:- Mercury 14 Nov 1908.
“”of the Bouncer style”:- The Clipper 9 March 1895
“When the Sharpie and 14 Footer nationals were run concurrently in 1938, in a pre-championships race the Sharpies were rated at 4% faster.”:- The Mercury 22 Feb 1938
 The Mercury (Hobart) 5 Jan 1938 p 8
 The West Australian 14 June 1898 p 6
 Winner (Melb) 30 June 1915 p 11
 The Autralasian (Melb) 7 Dec 1895 p 19
EIGHT FOOTERS – 8’6″ LOA, 4′ max beam, 80ft sail Ballaet YC history. They were sailed at St Kilda, Ballarat and Albert Par.
 The Telegraph (Brisbane) 1 Nov 1894 p 2
 Sydney Morning Heraldn 28 mar 1953 p 8
 Personal communication from Phil Briggs to author; also “Phil Briggs, 88 not out” by Bob Ross, Australian Sailing, Sept 2003 p 66. Sydney Mail 26 Sep 1934 p 33 mentions that several prototypes were made which appears likely since
 See for example “For youngers only – how to build a ‘Vaucluse’ Sharpie”, The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly, June 1934 p 14.
 “For youngers only – how to build a ‘Vaucluse’ Sharpie”, The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly, June 1934 p 14.
 The Mail (Adelaide) 14 Dec 1935 p 1 S
 The Sunday Herald, 18 Jan 1953 p 10 S
 “Evolution of the 16-Foot Skiff”, Bryce Mortlock, Seacraft Sept 1948 p 158.
 “Which Moth is best?” Len Morris, Seacraft Oct 1960 p 22
 The Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly Aug 1 1925 p 21 and Novmber 1925 p 31
 Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly Aug 1 1925 p 36
 Known to me only by a brief mention of three new boats of the class sailing at the Prince Edward YC in Dec 1925 issue of Australian Motor Boat and Yachting.
 “A Sailing-boat club at Port Adelaide”, history of Port Adelaide SC John Compton-Smart, Adelaide 2008
7 thoughts on “Pt 1.24: Fourteens dominant; the early history of southern and western Australian dinghies”
Brilliant, gave me info I had always thought missing on 14 development .would love to see follow up on 1940 to 1960
The photo purporting to be JOHN NIMMO is incorrect. Mick Brooke’s 14’s all carried the cresent moon logo -even after he sold it to SA it is thought to have been renamed JOHN SAVAGE & carried the same logo. Cannot ID the boat but doubt very much it is JOHN NIMMO, unless it is using a borrowed main.
— the boat has been ID as TRINGA off Henley SC. About 1922
Is that the boat I thought may be John Nimmo? Thanks for that. I’d still love to find a pic of the John Nimmo.
I have several. How can I send them to you.