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George Rayment Cup awarded to George Robinson of the 18-foot skiff BRITANNIA

Date: 1939
Overall: 525 x 280 x 160 mm, 1.7 kg
Medium: EPNS electro-plated nickel silver, wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Faye Magner
Object Name: Trophy
Object No: 00001728

User Terms

    This 1939 George Rayment Cup was awarded by the Sydney Flying Squadron to George Robinson, designer, builder and skipper of the 18-foot skiff BRITANNIA.
    SignificanceIn 1914, Robinson built his first boat, BRITANNIA. Five years later, he built the 18-foot skiff of the same name. To this day, the 18-foot BRITANNIA remains one of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s most treasured objects. This trophy is one of the many that were awarded to Robinson and his crew and represents the achievements of one of the most famous 18-foot racing skiffs in Australian skiff sailing history.
    HistoryRegattas were central to competitive boating and community celebration in the 19th century, and functioned as a social and sporting occasion as well as a marker of official anniversaries in a public aquatic spectacle. Civic leaders, politicians and merchants offered patronage and sponsorship. Community regattas often featured several races, including rowing, sculling and sailing events, usually for both professional watermen and amateurs. The regatta was not just a means for exercising competitive sport but also a focus for social and recreational entertainment in Sydney. Sites around the foreshore provided a place for spectators to gather and have picnics, while night time entertainment was provided with dances and recitals.

    Skipper and shipwright George Robinson, nicknamed ‘Wee Georgie Robinson’, was one of the heavyweights of skiff racing in Sydney. He built the dinghy BRITANNIA by eye and with the aid of a half model, which is now part of the museum's collection. Robinson went on to win racing championships for the next three consecutive years before building and launching the 18-foot skiff of the same name. Over the next 26 years BRITANNIA, with a crew of 11 family members and footballers, sailed a total of 17,000 nautical miles in 691 races and won 41 cup races before it was converted to a starter boat.

    The museum holds a range of items related to Robinson’s career as a boat builder and skipper, including a selection of Sydney Flying Squadron programmes, handwritten records of race results and race memorabilia. Robinson and his fine craftsmanship hailed from a time that the Australian Historical Sailing Skiff Association described as the era of ‘real skiff sailing’. Bruce Stannard illustrated this sense of nostalgia and loss in his book, ‘The Blue-water Bushmen: The Colourful Story of Australia’s Best and Boldest Boatmen’:

    ‘In the mythology of Australian sport there are few legends more colourful or enduring than those that surround the great sail-carrying open boats. Throughout the 19th century, long before cricket and the turf became obsessions in the infant colony, vast crowds, often hundreds of thousands strong, jammed every vantage point about Sydney Harbour and packed aboard fleets of steamers to gamble and to gape at the incredible antics of the men who dared to race the big boats.…In many ways the open boatmen might be described as blue-water bushmen…the rough and ready Sydney Harbour sailors did embody many of the characteristics which were so readily ascribed to their country cousins….’

    Today, there are no surviving 24-footers, 22-footers, 10-footers, canvas dinghies, 8-footers or 6-footers. Only ‘Wee Georgie’ Robinson’s 18-footer BRITANNIA survives, a mere shadow of its former glory, but a testament to both early boatbuilding techniques and an ethos that dominated maritime culture in Sydney Harbour.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: George Rayment Cup uitgereikt aan George Robinson van de 18-voet skiff BRITANNIA

    Assigned title: George Rayment Cup zuerkannt an George Robinson der 18-Fuß-Skiff BRITANNIEN

    Web title: George Rayment Cup awarded to George Robinson of the 18-foot skiff BRITANNIA

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