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Opening yacht season at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron

Date: 1920s
Medium: Emulsion on glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: 00024214
Place Manufactured:Kirribilli

User Terms

    The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron is a private sailing club which was formed in 1862. This image depicts a group of men and women standing in front of the entrance porch to the RSYS's main building at Kirribilli during opening yacht season.

    Standing far left is David Carment, a Scotsman who came to Austraia in 1872 and became a prominent figure in yachting clubs across Sydney. He was rear commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in 1919 and vice commodore from 1920 to 1923. Carment was also a member of the RSYS and Sydney Amateur Sailing Club. In 1905, the yacht ATHENE was built and remained in the Carment family's possession until 1950. It won many of the races held during opening yacht season in Sydney Harbour. The man standing far right is Judge Alfred Paxton Backhouse.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistoryBorn in Comrie, Scotland in 1843, David Carment came to Australia in 1872 after an actuary to the Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP) in Sydney offered him a position with the company. During the voyage to Sydney, David stopped shaving and grew a long beard that he was to keep for the rest of his life, a steadfast traditionalist until the end.

    On 27 January 1876, he married Elizabeth Shallard at St Philip’s Church of England on Church Hill, Sydney. Together, they had five children of which only two survived infancy – Elizabeth Edith and David Shallard. David Carment was considered one of Sydney’s ‘outstanding personalities’ and served as Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Society of New South Wales as well as the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also a fine singer, and sang in the Philharmonic Society concerts in Town Hall as well as at the opening of the famously ill-fated Garden Palace Exhibition of 1879.

    In 1905, Carment commissioned E Heywood to design a yacht which he named ATHENE. Constructed out of New Zealand Kauri by WM Ford of Berrys Bay the yacht was, according to Carment's grandson Max Carment, ‘fast and wet, 34 feet length, 8 feet 6 inches beam, and 6 foot draught, and with over 1 ton of lead external ballast’. An early mention of the yacht appears in 'The Sydney Morning Herald' on 4 April 1906, saying a private yacht race was to take place between ATHENE and Mr J Young’s HERRESHOFF.

    In December 1913, Carment colourfully described what an average day sailing was like in a letter to his son, David Shallard Carment, displaying just how ingrained the sport had become in his life:

    'On Saturday I took the boat down the harbour with a crew of three … We had a good sail in a fresh nor’easter, and had a great view of the numerous open boat races. On Sunday it blew pretty nearly a “black nor’easter” in the afternoon…we went to North Harbour and had a truly great sail home round by Shark Island carrying full mainsail and jib. You see the lapse of years has not abated my love of a good breeze. I wonder if you’ll take to sailing again when you come back … or whether you are tired of the finest sport in the world.'

    Carment was rear commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in 1919, vice commodore from 1920 to 1923 and a life member. He was also a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, and he leant his support to other Sydney sailing clubs. Max Carment stated that during the 1920s and 1930s, Carment or his son would race ATHENE every Saturday. During the 1926 season, ATHENE ‘was the most successful boat, having won Tempest Trophy, Jubilee Cup, Boomerang Cup.’ Her skipper, David Shallard, also won the captain’s trophy for the best record in “A” class.

    On 29 April 1934, only weeks after his last cruise on ATHENE, Carment died of bronchitis and myocarditis at the age of 90. Four to five hundred people attended the memorial service at St Peter’s Church in North Sydney.

    David Shallard followed his father’s footsteps and kept sailing ATHENE. He was rear commodore and vice commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club and, in addition, he was a foundation member of the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club. David Shallard was highly revered for his skills in yacht design rules. A naval architect at Cockatoo Island, one of his students was Alan Payne, who went on to design Australia’s first America’s Cup challenger, GRETEL.

    ATHENE stayed with the family until it was sold in 1950. Though it was still sailing in 2008, like many of its contemporaries, it had been significantly altered from its original form.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Opening yacht season at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron


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