CYGNET is a wooden racing and cruising yacht built in Tasmania in 1925. It was designed and built by members of the Wilson Bros in Cygnet, and they have been one of the principal boatbuilding firms in Tasmania. CYGNET was originally built to the requirements of the 21 Foot Restricted Class, one of Australia’s most important yacht racing classes that had its heyday from the 1920s through to the early 1950s. CYGNET is one of only two extant Tasmanian boats of the four built in that state to this rule. It has since been modified to become a cruising yacht and was also well known in that role. It now retains that configuration representing a resourceful and successful adaptation that has helped the yacht remain in use, and the main elements original hull are still incorporated in the revised structure.
DescriptionCYGNET was designed by Walter Wilson and built by Tas Wilson in 1925 as a 21 ft Restricted Class yacht. The 25 foot long hull was planked in Huon Pine over Blackwood frames. It had a gaff sloop rig, centreboard and open cockpit layout as per the class rules.
The Hobart Mercury reported on CYGNET on December 24 1925.
"At Cygnet, where yachting is booming, the sport has received a great impetus by the building of a new 21-foot restricted class boat on the lines of the Tassie, which took the water on Sunday morning. This beautiful little craft has been named Cygnet and was built by Messrs Tas Wilson and John and Thomas Cowen. The designing and drafting were carried out by Mr. Walter Wilson, who bears such a fine reputation as a builder and designer of beautiful ships throughout Australia. The timbers are all selected Blackwood, and the planking Huon pine, the natural colours of which have been preserved and beautifully varnished. Every detail has been carefully attended to and no expense and care spared anywhere, and her owners, builders, and designer, who all hall from Cygnet, are to be congratulated on a very beautiful little craft.
Since her launch she has been for a trial spin or two in the bay, and, although experiencing the usual preliminary minor difficulties with sails, etc., showed a fine turn of speed, and when tuned up great things are expected of her. She also will make her debut at Esperance on Boxing Day. Other members of the Cygnet fleet are at present slipped, undergoing final preparation for the regattas."
CYGNET was the second 21 Foot class yacht to be built in the state and came on the wave of support generated by the first Tasmanian 21 TASSIE, built in a hurry the year before to race in The Forsters Cup series which it then won convincingly. TASSIE TOO (HV000234) and TASSIE III followed later in the 1920s, and the 1921 built LAKATOI had been bought in 1923 to begin the fleet in Tasmania. CYGNET raced with these boats on the Derwent River but never represented the state at the Forster Cup.
CYGNET was a good boat, and the following report from the Huon Times, Thursday 5 January 1933, notes a win over TASSIE.
"Tassie was first across the line, with Tula Redpa, Anitra and Monsoon close up in that order. Spinnakers were set on the way to Rocky Bay, and the fleet, which had been bunched up now split up. Monsoon led til the first round. .Much interest was centred on the duel which developed between Cygnet and Tassie, and who were on the same handicap Monsoon held the lead to the finish and Cygnet beat Tassie a creditable performance on a 12-mile course.
The TASSIE trio dominated the class in Tasmania and nationally up until the early 1940s. At this time CYGNET was eventually retired from racing and underwent a significant modification by builder Alf Cuthbertson. . It was cleverly transformed into a 32’ cruising yacht building upon the original structure and adding to it. A long overhang was planked onto the stern, a deep ballast keel was added, along with a raised deck forward and cabin house."
From there its history is not well recorded, but it was taken across to Port Phillip at an unknown date and sailed there for a number of years. In June 2014 the current owners bought CYGNET, and reported the following: “I was struck by her beauty and without thinking too much about it just said yes. So far it’s been a great project. After some cleaning, engine repairs, some timber work and a few weeks in Greg Blunt's yard in Williamstown she's back in sailing condition and starting to look pretty good.”
CYGNET remains in good condition and has many years of cruising ahead on Port Phillip.
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:overhanging stem
Hull shape:overhanging transom
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Vessel Registration Number: RN609
Sail Number: T3