Reprinted from the Trust News Australia - August 2009.
Author: Gina Pickering
Wednesday afternoon’s are jovial on Jetty 3 at South of Perth Yacht Club (SoPYC). H28 skippers and crew, including John Wright, prepare for an afternoon of short course racing. A fleet of nine based on the 1943 Herreshoff design is making ready.
Wynella has contributed to sailing action on the Swan River for more than half a century - Don Bourne
Two Laps of the mid reaches of the Swan River, as far west as Robbins buoy off Applecross, and then home on a three quarter tack on the sea breeze.
The atmosphere is relaxed, but the skippers are quick to point out that no-one wants to come last.
Not only has South of Perth Yacht Club continuously raced the H28 class of yachts longer than any other club in Australia (since 1963), the club has the largest fleet of H28s anywhere in Australia. You’ll find the classic H28s with a sloop rig (originally designed in 1943 with a ketch rig) competing for position on the Swan River Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
In 2009, seventeen H28s are registered with SoPYC. A few more are scattered at yacht clubs down the Swan. WA’s first H28, Saga was built by Viking Boatbuilders, Cottesloe in 1947 ¹
The Royal Perth Yacht Club held the first H28 race on the Swan River, and the event was won by Wynella, which was built over six months by Don Bourne,with assistance from his brothers Colin and Max in 1956. However, since 1963 the H28s have raced as a class from SoPYC and you can often find Wynella jostling for a good pre-position there today.
The H28 Division at SoPYC was founded at the inaugural meeting of the H28s on 28 February 1963 by Loyal Weaver who sailed Soraya. Current Commodore Phil Lammonby now owns Soraya, and says the H28s have always been recognised as a stalwart of the club.
“H28s are an important asset to SoPYC and real discussion point in the yachting fraternity,” Mr Lammonby said. “The attraction is that they are the classic wooden boat, but any class or fleet is important to a yacht club, as opposed to mixed divisions,” he said.
According to Commodore Lammonby, you can put a young crew on an H28, and they can stay sailing them until their in their 70s and 80s. John Wright has been at the helm of H28 Anna since 1994 and this Wednesday afternoon brings a steady 15 knot breeze on the main River. Now in his seventies John considers himself a youngster amongst the H28 fleet.
“You know Bob Williams who owns Alma is in his 90s now and still sailing, I could have another 20 years of racing in me yet,” he said with a smile.
H28s at South of Perth Yacht Club
Napea of Carrick
Soraya beats into a south-wester on Perth’s Swan River with Kate Lammonby at the helm. South of Perth Yacht Club
The other H28 stronghold is in Victoria, where almost thirty H28s cruise the waters of Port Phillip Bay, Blairgowrie, Sorrento, Western Port Bay and the Gippsland Lakes. Five of the yachts belong specifically to Hobsons Bay Yacht Club.
The emphasis is on ‘cruising’ according to H28 Association President, Rod Fuller. “The H28 group here is very lay back, we have a calendar of events that cater for boats in different locations,” Mr Fuller said.
“There’s no fleet that races, not like in Perth, but we do join in the Classic Yacht Association events and as well as the Sail Master Series,” he said.
Internationally renowned American designer Lewis (L.) Francis Herreshoff created the H28 for ‘the man who has only limited time to sail, but would like to go somewhere and back in that time’ ².
He fashioned more than forty different yachts during his career, and in 2007 was inducted into the North American boat Designer’s Hall of Fame. Yacht design ran in his family, and while his father Nathanael G. Herreshoff is said to have focussed on engineering perfection, L. Francis emphasized artistic perfection.
A long way from his Rhode Island home, the elegance of the H28 design is still capturing the imagination of sailors and more than 66 years after it was created.
¹ Aquatic Monthly, A Water Sports Magazine September. 1947, Vol 1 no 10.
² Herreshoff, L.F.(1973) Sensible Cruising Designs, p.35.