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OTB History


SYC History of Dinghy Classes
1950 – Present

1950s – Off The Beach sailing consisted of a mixture of Yvonne, Quickcat and Attunga class catamarans and miscellaneous dinghies of various types including 14ft Dinghy, 8ft Dinghy, a 12ft Cadet dinghy, two VJs, a Payne Mortlock canoe, a skate and a heavy weight Sharpie or two.

The International Cadet class was started in 1957 when 6 junior members decided to build 6 boats, which were initially called a Yachting World Cadet, designed by Jack Holt in the UK. They were built from scratch in their backyards and cost about 60 pounds. Junior members were aged between 12 to 18.

In 1959, the Gwen 12 class, designed by local Charles Cunningham, was adopted by the Intermediate members as a one design National racing class and quickly grew to a fleet of around 25 boats throughout the 60s.

It should be noted that at that time, 12 was the youngest age a person could join the club.  This remained so until the 1970s when it was reduced to 10 and subsequently in the mid 80s when it was reduced to a minimum age of 8.  Further, no female members were permitted unless they were a daughter, granddaughter or niece of a Senior member.  Consequently, the number of girls in sailing was limited until the rules were changed in the 1970s. Prior to this a small number of girls sailed in the Gwen 12s and International Cadets out of the Victorian Ladies Yacht Club (later renamed the Hampton Sailing Club).

In 1965, the number of Junior members was 175 and the number of Intermediate members 18-21 years of age was 75. Registered boats consisted of: forty-four International Cadets (7 Club- owned) and 18 Gwen 12s.

The International Cadet class was very strong in the 60s under the guidance of Bruce Rayward at Club, State and National levels and was backed by a strong parent/Senior members group. Many Victorian clubs adopted the class as their two-handed training class.  At its peak, the fleet numbered up to 60 International Cadets with 15 club-owned boats available for lease to Junior members.

As the Gwen 12 class became dated, the Club looked to a newer style of boat and settled on the Cherub Class. The Club built six new fiberglass Cherubs for use as club boats and the Cherub fleet was active from 1969 to 1977.

In 1965, Commodore Bill Croft donated a Yachting World Diamond (previously called Yachting World Keelboat designed by Jack Holt) for use by Intermediate members. This yacht (Coral-C) could be applied for each year by different skippers who would nominate their own crew (4 in Total).  It remained a club boat until 1975 when it was sold as the Diamond class decreased in numbers.

In the mid 70’s – mid 80’s, the single-handed classes sailed by Intermediate and Senior members were the Finn and the OK dinghy.

In 1976, the 14ft skiff class commenced sailing at Sandringham and grew to a peak fleet size of 18 boats in the 1980’s and has remained a part of the Intermediate and Senior Off The Beach fleet to this day with a current fleet of eight boats.

In December 1979, the number of Club-owned cadets was reduced to six. Some of the old boats were well past their prime and it was also a sign of the times where most members could afford the cost of a Cadet.

During the late 80s and early 90s, a small fleet of Sabots were introduced as training boats.  The sabot fleet proved difficult to grow.  They were also a complicated boat for a novice sailor to adapt to.

In the mid 80s, the Club bought four secondhand 420s.  The 420s kept some of the juniors sailing for a few years after International Cadets. At the time, sailboarding was also developing and for a short period we had a small fleet of those.

In the 70s, Graeme Disney, as the OTB Chairman at the time, tried to convince General Committee that Optimists were the future precursor to the International Cadets. The Committee would not support the proposal citing insufficient funds being available to purchase more club boats. Graeme then approached Sir Jack Brockhoff with his proposal.  Sir Jack gave Graeme a good hearing and agreed to fund one optimist.  Witnessing Graeme’s excitement, Sir Jack said “Make it two”. So the OTB ordered “Sir Jack” and “Lady B”.  After this, General Committee then made the decision to purchase “Metung” and our Optimist fleet was up and running.

In the 1979/80 season, Peter Table and the Intermediate members started the “On the water training program” for new Junior members. This was the forerunner to C-Fleet as it exists today. Phil Kaufman and ex-cadet Mark Taylor ran this training program on a Sunday morning using the Club Optimists up until around the mid 1990s .

At this time the Sandringham Sailing School began operating out of the OTBSC and catered for novice sailors and the local schools in Pacers, as well as using the Club’s Optimists up until the mid 1990s when Tim Say purchased a fleet of six roto-moulded plastic Optimists. At this time, the old Optimists were de-commissioned and stored in a container on the premises.

Around 1995 there was an influx of ex-sabot sailors into the club and the Flying Eleven class was introduced by Ian Tudball as a fast two-handed training racing boat sailed with good numbers on the East coast of Australia. The fleet grew to around eight boats at its peak but only lasted three years. The International Cadets remained constant in numbers despite the introduction of these classes. While the reasoning behind the introduction of Sabots and Flying Elevens was sound i.e. there were large numbers sailing on the east coast of Australia, they were not an International class, novice sailors were disadvantaged and they were relatively expensive.

In 2000, to help introduce novice sailors into Club life and to provide boats for new members to sail, Glenn Taylor used old club International Cadets as the training boats. After the first year it was decided that we needed to improve the way new members transitioned into club sailing; so the old Optimists were hauled out of the containers and a working bee of members and parents transformed them again into training dinghies and C-Fleet was re-born.

The concept of C-Fleet was to try and capture the good work of the sailing school and introduce new members into the OTB ranks. The concept required the use of the club-owned old Optimists, a committee vessel and one or two RIBs with instructors. The program was agreed to and it was implemented. In the beginning, Mark Foster was on Endeavour III with parents on board, and Glenn Taylor was very much involved with the on-water coaching. C-Fleet worked on two levels:

  1. The on-water coaching was designed to be a low-key introduction to racing with a view to building confidence so that the juniors could gain enough confidence to venture out in the afternoon Club race. Some juniors used their own boats, others used Club boats with a view to purchasing their own boat in due course. The desired outcome was for the child to demonstrate to the parents that they were committed to sailing and that it was worth purchasing their own boat. They could then have a few practice races in C-Fleet and then join the Club fleet for Sunday afternoon racing once they had enough confidence. It also generated friendships amongst the sailors.
  2. The Committee Boat environment was a mix of some parents learning about sailing, racing, rules and what the flags meant. At this time in the Club’s history, the demographics were changing from students coming from predominantly sailing families to mainly coming from non-sailing families. As a Club we needed to adapt and teach these families about sailing and Club life. This was facilitated on the Committee boat, as well as encouraging the children with their sailing. The end result was increased family involvement and the standard question from parents and their children was “What boat should I buy?” and “How do I buy a boat?”

C-Fleet was a success on many fronts as we saw more crews available for the Cadet fleet, as well as the introduction of the Optimist fleet. The other success of C-fleet was that due to the fact that it was run quite close to the Club (sometimes in the pond), quite a few members introduced their children or grandchildren into sailing. The OTB was being seen by the average Club member and this in turn assisted greatly in fundraising which in turn lead to the purchase of the Sailing School and the re-branding as SYC Sailing Academy.

The Sandringham Sailing School that had been operated by Tim Say out of the OTBSC was purchased by funds provided by the generosity of Steve Taylor, Philip Coombs and fundraising by Carolyn White. As a result, the SYC Boating Academy commenced.

A second round of fundraising by Carolyn White led to the purchase of seven racing Optimists that were sold to Club members coming though C-Fleet. This “buy and sell” program was repeated twice more to set up the Sandringham Optimist race fleet and subsequently the Victorian Optimist Association.

The main reason for increasing the Optimist race fleet was to ensure that C-Fleet provided a clear pathway into Optimist racing or a crew position on an International Cadet.  This C-Fleet pathway was to be 6 months to 12 months maximum.  Both the Optimist and the International Cadet fleets, and the OTBSC benefited from this approach.

The early success saw the growth of Club-raced International Cadets to 20 boats and the Optimists to 18 boats. Junior membership doubled in the next three years from 57 Junior members in March 2000 to 122 in March 2003. This provided a strong foundation for the Intermediate classes of Lasers, 29ers and 420s that have raced over the last few years.  It is however to be noted, that despite promising starts none of these classes have continued in any significant numbers.

Other recent classes raced at the Club have included the Contender class which moved en-masse from Black Rock Yacht club in 2003 taking our fleet from none to 15 overnight and back to none currently with the sailors mostly moving into keelboat racing and a few making the transition to the new Musto skiff class .

The Tasar fleet started in 2003 and has a good solid following and support group from early beginnings of two boats to a current SYC fleet of around seven boats.


Complied by Philip Strong

Thanks to the following for their contribution:

  • Rob Hose – Ex OTB Dinghy sailor and OTB parent
  • Geoff Henderson – Ex-OTB sailor, past Club Captain, Parent and Past Commodore
  • Mark Foster – Ex-dinghy sailor, past OTB Club Captain and Parent
  • Graeme Disney – past OTB Club Captain, past Vice Commodore, current Club Chaplain, Parent and just plain Legend