New Website for 2019

We are all used to using Internet websites these days, from doing your personal banking to comparing reviews on a new washing machine, booking a holiday or chasing down that elusive part for your boat.  Spare a thought for the clever people who build these websites – we’ve met a lot of them recently!  AWBF, Inc. is working on a completely new website to be released in time for the 2019 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  We can’t wait for February 2019, of course, because soon we will be opening Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for Boats Afloat and Boats Ashore, as well as registering volunteers and exhibitors for the four-day festival.  Our website must be able to do a great many things: help boat owners to secure a berth, help people with their travel plans and accommodation, provide a preview of the festival program and welcome volunteers who would like to get involved.  The AWBF website has to look good, be easy to use and load up onto your screen quickly.  It also has to handle payments, answer questions and get you in contact with us when you need it.

photo: channel4.com
The Technical Crew

All of these things are like the proverbial swan on a lake.  In order to look good and work smoothly, there’s an awful lot of footwork going on under the surface.  We’re indebted to technical wizard Eftihios ‘Effy’ Zavros, web designer Sean Ravenwood, IT-savvy board member Chris Palmer and office manager Bronnie Hansson for toiling through hundreds of lines of code and pages of text to make sure the new website is fully functional in time for beta testing to be arranged by Peter Higgs.

We hope to be able to invite you to take the new website for a spin when we release our next newsletter in mid-April.  Watch this space!

Aussie 18s in the News

There’s word around the slips about a possible Hobart showdown in 2019 between The Yanks (in the shape of the East Coast sandbaggers) and the Aussies (look to the classic Sydney 18-footers like Britannia, displayed at the Australian National Maritime Museum). Ian Smith’s exact replica of the 1919 craft Britannia put in an appearance at AWBF 2017. The extreme length of the jib and boom had many visitors scratching their heads – how could a little 18-foot boat carry that much sail and avoid going airborne? Well, they did, and they still do, as evidenced by the Sydney Flying Squadron sailing modern replicas.

Off Center Harbor, the fast-growing video website for sailors was suitably impressed when they saw Britannia and recently released a new video on these classic boats. CLICK HERE to see the video and another on Victorian couta boats. It will cost you nothing to see the video and ten more of their best, but be warned, the website is seriously addictive if you’re into wooden boats.

OffCenterHarbor.com is a membership website with 1,000+ professional videos/articles on wooden boats, including topics such as boat handling, repairs, maintenance, boat building, and getting aboard legendary boats. It’s worth checking out.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast of the USA, the classic 19th century fast sailboats called sandbaggers are again tearing through the water, descendants of the working oyster boats that once delivered fresh shellfish to the tables of the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts in their New York City mansions. Sandbaggers get their name from the practice of moving bags of sand ballast from one side of the boat to the other to keep them upright under a huge press of sail, racing their rival skippers to get to market first for the best prices.

Sandbaggers Racing in Long Island Sound by James Edward Buttersworth (1817-1894).            Image: Sailcraftblog.wordpress.com

In France, there’s also renewed interest in a similar style of over-powered high-speed sailing craft called a houaris Marseillais. Prestigious boating magazine Classic Boat covered the phenomenon in a recent article:

Radical New Sandbagger-Type Yachts in France

“To say Alcyon is extreme would be an understatement. She’s like a soup bowl carrying a pillowcase of rig. With her length overall of just 22ft 11in (7m) but boom and bowsprit extending out to 68ft 11in (21m), the cloud of canvas overhang is absolutely nuts – she looks like a boat that you’d really expect to see in black and white, when our yachting ancestors were zealously over-rigging yachts to win silver on sunny summer regatta days.”

It turns out that Ian Smith, with Britannia and a gang of his mates went to Annapolis, Maryland recently, took on the sandbaggers in their home waters and in a distant echo of the 1983 ‘Thunder from Down Under’ that won the America’s Cup, the cheeky 18-footers won the day. Now, there’s honour at stake and word is, a return match is on the cards. Likely champions? The famous sandbaggers Bull and Bear from the US National Sailing Hall of Fame might just wet their sails in the River Derwent. Stay tuned for more news.

Feature photo:  Bruce Kerridge, courtesy Sydney Flying Squadron

 

Ben Mendlowitz Calendar Features Tassie Boats

One of the world’s most respected maritime photographers, Ben Mendlowitz, has selected two Tasmanian boats to feature in his eagerly-anticipated Calendar of Wooden Boats for 2019.

This is an extraordinary result from a first-time visit for Ben to Tasmania for the 2017 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  With a 20,000 copy print run, this famous calendar is a hot item on every wooden boat owner’s Christmas list in North America and hundred of mail-order copies find their way to Europe, Asia and Australasia.  It’s a remarkable honour to see not one, but two Australian vessels in the calendar and the boat owners can be justifiably proud to be chosen for this prestigious and beautifully produced photographic essay.

The boats are Ben Marris’s 1936 Huon Pine ketch Saona and Toby Greenlees 13-metre, 111 year-old ketch Mallana.  Both boats were popular features at the 2017 festival.  Saona is something of a cinematic star, having hosted the Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans television team for an SBS series in 2012. Mallana was a participant in the thrilling Working Ketch Race for the Wrest Point Cup.

Saona – photo courtesy Ben Marris
Mallana – photo (c) Ballantyne Photography

The Calendar of Wooden Boats is published by Noah Publications in Brooklyn, Maine, which also produces elegant books featuring Ben Mendlowitz’s photography.  The calendar will be available on Amazon and from the publisher, but we are hoping to convince a local Hobart bookshop to stock the calendar when it is published.  If you are a lover of fine wooden boat photography, an advance order for the 2019 calendar from your favourite bookshop might be a sound idea.

Ben Mendlowitz was a guest of the AWBF at the last festival, along with Off Centre Harbor film maker Steve Stone.  Both friends have been instrumental in helping to build awareness of the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival in the North American market.