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The Open Boat

Date: 3 March 1934
Overall: 240 × 183 mm
Medium: Paper, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Faye Magner
Object Name: Newsletter
Object No: ANMS0089[022]
Related Place:Sydney Harbour, Sydney,

User Terms

    The Open Boat magazine, March 1934, which incorporated Harbour craft and was the 'official organ of the Sydney Flying Squadron'. It later became The Squadron Leader.

    SignificanceThe Sydney Flying Squadron is Australia's oldest boat club and played a significant role in starting and developing skiff racing on Sydney Harbour which still continues today.
    History" The Sydney Flying Squadron evolved from a group of men owning small boats, 6 footers, 12 footers,14 footers and there were also larger boats 18 foot and above.The designs of the boats were originally based on open work boats. Many people saw skiff racing as a working man's sport unlike the well to do who sailed expensive yachts.
    At their peak more than 30 18 footers raced each week, followed by crowds of spectators and punters in chartered ferries. Boating in those days attracted as great a following as horseracing did. An egalitarian attitude had existed in sailing. Those who sail open boats were given the opportunity to compete as equals.
    Eighteen Foot skiffs have been raced on Sydney harbour for 150 years. This class of open boat must have hulls no longer than 18 foot (5.49 metres), from stern to stern.
    In 1891 a meeting took place at a Sydney hotel and new rules were set for open boat racing. These rules were that the Squadron would race their boats with coloured sail emblems. There would be handicaps at the start to make an exiting finish and would race over a triangular course racing. The intention was to make therace exciting for spectators. The man were prepared to ignore the established yacht clubs' rules and set up their own Squadron's rules. This was the beginning of the Sydney Flying Squadron and now is the oldest open boat sailing club in Australia.
    The first race that Sydney Flying Squadron took part in was in October 1891. Mark Foy's 20 footer "Kannanook" and Chris Webb's "Mantura" took part in the race. Mark Foy was a successful businessman and more commonly known for his department store "Mark Foys". Today at the Sydney Flying Squadron the restaurant is affectionately named "Mark Foys Restaurant".
    The Squadron's boats were banned from the 1892 National Regatta because they carried coloured emblems. It was claimed that the emblems encouraged gambling and spoiled the look of the white sails that adorn Sydney Harbour.
    The Squadron men had little money, free few days, enthusiasm and skill. They were fearless and rebellious. Thanks to Mark Foy, he was determined to fight the issue on behalf of the Squadron. He wanted to make sure that skiff sailing is enjoyed by everybody regardless of their financial and social background. He organised an opposition regatta and financed the advertising and engaged a lorry to parade the streets with a calico sign. he also donated the whole prize money. "
    - The Sydney Flying Yacht Squardon, 2014.

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