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Ajax

Vessel Number: HV000449
Date: 1950
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 3.66 m x 3.66 m x 1.48 m (12 ft x 12 ft x 4.85 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
AJAX is an example of the 12-foot skiff class built by brothers Don and Les Barnett in Sydney in 1950. It was Australian Champion in 1953, NSW Champion four times in the 1950s, and represented NSW in the early 12-foot skiff Interdominion Series in the late 1950s. It is the oldest surviving NSW Interdominion representative. It was re-planked and re-rigged in the 1960s, but then returned to its original rig in the early 1990s. The Barnett family has been champion skiff builders and sailors in various skiff classes over three generations.
DescriptionAJAX was built at the Barnett's shed on the Berrys Bay side of McMahons Point in Sydney in 1950. It was seam-batten, carvel planked in Australian cedar and sailed with a high-peaked gunter rig sailplan. It was a competitive boat and in 1951 was NSW Champion and the top member of the NSW team for the Australian Championships. Reports noted that the series held in January 1952 in Queensland was the closest on record, and AJAX could have won if not for a capsize in the last heat.

Don Barnett's crew which included his brother Les made amends the following season. Racing on Sydney Harbour, and watched closely by one of the family patriarchs, their 80 year old grandmother 'Granny Barnett', AJAX won with two firsts and a second. This was a dominant performance made noteworthy because all three rigs were used by the fleet in the different conditions, and AJAX was consistently fast, Seacraft magazine's reporter stating that 'she performed brilliantly under all three suits of sails.' This was Don Barnett's fifth season of sailing, and the reporter also noted that "although AJAX was recognised from the start as a potential champion, Barnett had to swallow a number of disappointments before he reached the top. AJAX was his second 12 footer, and described as a big sectioned hull, in comparison with the previous season's winner ESTRELITA (HV000200) which was the first of the narrow hulls to win the event.

The Barnett’s sailed AJAX until 1954 when the Notley brothers bought the skiff and they raced it until the end of the 1959 sailing season. during this time it was runner up in 1956 and 1959 Australian Championships. It won the NSW championship four times, and was Greenwich Flying Squadron Club Champion from 1951 to 1956. In the late 1950s it twice represented NSW in the Interdominion events raced between NSW, Queensland and New Zealand for 12 foot long skiffs of different classes. All this was achieved with the gunter rig and cotton sails.

From 1960 onwards AJAX has had various owners, including the Notleys once again. In 1963 Jack Scope replanked it with double-diagonal, cedar planking, retaining all the original framing and other structure in the process. He also gave it a more modern Marconi rig sailplan. In 1991 the original gunter rig spars and sails were restored to the hull and it has sailed with them since then. AJAX has taken part in club events at GFS and the Lane Cove 12 Foot Skiff Club, races with the Historical Skiffs Association and some of the Australia Day regatta events.

AJAX has not been sailed for few years and is in retirement, stored in the owner's garage space at his retirement villiage. Early in 2011 AJAX was rigged up with the original spars and sails, and put on display each day at the 51st Interdominion event held on Parramatta River. It remains as the outstanding 12-foot skiff to represent Greenwich Flying Squadron, which had been one of the major clubs in the 12-Foot Skiff class until the 1980s.





Vessel Details
Current status:hard stand/cradle
Current status:inside building
Current status:non-operational
Current status:not on display
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:cold mouldedcold-mouldeddouble diagonaltriple diagonaldouble-diagonaltriple-diagonal
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:dagger boarddrop board
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Rig type:gaff
Rig type:sloop
Sail cloth:cotton
Spar material:timber
Alternate Numbers

Sail Number: Blue Oval and Red 'A'

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