Search the Register
Advanced Search


Vessel Number: HV000360
Date: 1961
Vessel Dimensions: 4.57 m x 1.83 m, 0.46 tonnes (15 ft x 6 ft, 0.45 tons)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
MATILDA is a fibreglass runabout built in 1961 by International Plastics in Victoria. The firm was the first company to build fibreglass powerboats in Australia. MATILDA is amongst the first production recreational fibreglass powerboats built in Australia. It represents the beginning of the high volume, mass production of identical craft using precision tooling specific to individual models. It also marks the introduction of low maintenance vessels. Both of these factors made recreational boating more affordable and practical for the public, leading to the demise of wooden craft even though some used modest assembly line methods for construction. This design is also noted for its connections to the famous American industrial designer Raymond Loewy who styled the craft giving it a modern look comparable with his renowned work in other fields of product design. MATILDA was used by its original owner Charlie Parnis and his family on Botany Bay, New South Wales, for more than 25 years.
DescriptionMATILDA's design, specifications and tooling were imported from the Dorsett Boat Company in Santa Clara, California USA, where the boat was designed by Dick Dorsett in the late 1950s. Dorsett's lines for the hull shape were taken and styled by Raymond Loewy including the layout and fitout. Loewy was an American industrial designer who had a significant impact on advancing product design during the 1950s and 60s. His work covered a very wide range of items including cars, buses, household appliances and graphic work.

The imported craft was manufactured under licence and marketed as a Belmont Carribean. Using this proven and up-to-date design, International Plastics set up a production line at their factory in Scoresby, Victoria. The boat was widely advertised and became one of a small range of fibreglass craft built by the firm.

The 4.6 metre long craft is a double chine, solid fibreglass and polyester resin hull and deck with moulded in stringers. The flared bow and concave hull sections that flatten out at the stern were typical of the era and have since been superseded by convex, deep-vee hull forms.

Australian Water Sportsman published a boat test in April 1961 commenting: “quick onto the plane, soft entry through a choppy sea and nimble handling had us convinced in a very short time that HERE was an acquisition to the runabout market."

Powerboats like MATILDA were used mostly for waterskiing, a favourite pastime on rivers and lakes and enclosed coastal waters around the country. MATILDA was bought by Charlie Parnis of Botany Bay NSW in 1961 from the NSW agents for the Caribbean range, Waugh and Josephson. Its serial number is 2101. Parnis used the boat until 1987 before selling it to Advance Marine of Botany Bay.

The vessel was acquired from Advance Marine in 1988 by the Australian National Maritime Museum and is now part of the National Maritime Collection. MATILDA is in original condition apart from a replacement windscreen which was installed in 1987. It is complete with its original 60 kW (75 hp) Johnson Seahorse outboard, installed by Waugh and Josephson in 1961.

Vessel Details
Current status:inside building
Current status:non-operational
Current status:on public display
Deck layout:open
Deck material and construction:fibreglass
Hull material and construction:fibreglassFRPGRP
Hull shape:chines
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:planing
Hull shape:vee-bottomv-bottomv-sectionvee-section
Motor propulsion:outboard
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:docking keel
Alternate Numbers

Official Number: AJ 59 N

Discuss this Object


Please log in to add a comment.