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EILEEN TOO, under spinnaker on the Brisbane River, date unknown

Eileen Too

Vessel Number: HV000219
Date: 1939
Previous Owner:
Vessel Dimensions: 3.66 m x 3.66 m x 1.3 m (12 ft x 12 ft x 4.25 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
EILEEN TOO is a sailing dinghy built in Queensland in 1939. It is thought to be one of the few remaining early examples of the Queensland training dinghy created in the early 1930s by Brisbane sailor R 'Nip' Thorpe and later known as the Thorpe Trainer, however some of its structural changes represent the evolution of the class from planked to plywood construction. EILEEN TOO remained with the same family until being donated to the Queensland Maritime Museum around 2000.
DescriptionEILEEN TOO was built by Walter ‘Pop’ Hargreaves in 1939, and was launched for a cost of £10.0.0 which included a suit of sails from Paul Gray, one of the best Brisbane sailmakers of the period. This cost would have been about three weeks wages in those days. It was sailed by members of the Hargreaves family as well as Jack Laurence, and was a quite successful boat, featuring in a number of race and championship wins. A 1944 report from the Courier-Mail with the headline EILEEN TOO HOLDS TITLE notes that EILEEN TOO skippered by J Lawrence 'again led the Queensland training dinghies home on the Hamilton course...", commenting that he had then retained the club championship, and later refers to the class as Queensland Trainees. the 1944 date of this report shows that despite the war which curtailed many activities, sailing on the Brisbane River managed to carry on despite the shipping and naval movements.

The Queensland Trainer class was created in the early 1930s by Brisbane sailor R 'Nip' Thorpe and its correct name may be open to interpretation, with other references calling it the Trainee Dinghy. Before this there were a number of similar sized training boats used by clubs and families around Brisbane, but they were not linked in any formal class or association. Thorpe established a set of simple restrictions around some of the characteristics common to these craft to create a single class of similar dinghies. The restrictions covered maximum and minimum dimensions, hull shape, construction and rig. It is 3.65m (12 ft) long, cat-rigged with a gunter mainsail, spinnaker and shallow vee-bottom cross-section throughout. The hull was designed to be simply built, with cross-planked bottom planking and each side made of a single plank of hoop pine. Plywood was expressly prohibited, as noted in a set of 1943 specifications. These rules also show a restriction applied to the paint scheme - "RED bottom, WHITE hull, inside of hull optional."

The dinghy became an introductory class for young sailors, prior to graduating to the more powerful skiffs and unlimited sharpies. When 'Nip' Thorpe died in 1937, 'Nip Thorpe's Navy' numbered more than 40 boats. Trainee Dinghy rules were changed during the 1960s to allow plywood construction, and it was then that EILEEN TOO's planked bottom was removed and replaced by plywood, and buoyancy tanks were added.

It is not known when EILEEN TOO stopped racing, however it had always remained with the Hargreaves family, who donated it to the Queensland Maritime Museum . The boat was then taken to Toowoomba where the timber work and internal layout was restored as close as possible to its original configuration by Colin Johnston. Upon returning to Brisbane the rigging was restored by Jack Hamilton and John Cuneo.

Prepared from research material supplied by Queensland Maritime Museum
Vessel Details
Current status:on public display
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:chines
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:plumb transomvertical transom
Hull shape:vee-bottomv-bottomv-sectionvee-section
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:dagger boarddrop board
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Rig type:cat rigcat boatunauna rig
Rig type:gunter
Sail cloth:cotton
Alternate Numbers

Sail Number: Blue Oval with White E

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