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Australian 18 foot Championship Carnival program, 1937

Date: 1937
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Faye Magner
Object Name: Program
Object No: ANMS0086[036]

User Terms

    Programe for the Australian 18 foot Championship Carnival. Held on 30th and 31st January and 1st, 6th, and 7th February 1937.

    SignificanceThis programe was part of a collection of racing memorabilia belonging to Gerge Robinson, a boat builder and racer who was at the forefront of 18 foot racing in his champion skiff, BRITANNIA.
    HistoryGeorge Robinson, nicknamed ‘Wee Georgie Robinson’, built the dinghy BRITANNIA by eye and with the aid of this half model. 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 boatbuilder 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.

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