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Hammond Craft

Hammond Craft were builders of some of the finest clinker ski boats or speed boats in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. Shipwright Harry Hammond worked from a factory in Brookvale NSW for most of this period, and dedicated his company to building custom designs for individual clients; his craft were always made to order.

Harry Hammond began boatbuilding with his brother Jim at the end of World War II. One of their ski boats was called ZOOMA. When Jim moved north to Ballina to build trawlers, Harry set up his own business in Ada Avenue at Brookvale. He had a small workforce with one or two employees and did not have a production line of craft under construction; each craft was built to completion before the next one started. He always had a waiting list, but his craft were of the highest quality so customers were prepared to wait their turn.

Hammond Craft were primarily known for their clinker or lapstrake ski boats. The type was very popular around the country and he competed with Lewis Brothers and Everingham in NSW for a share of the market. In Hammond's case his clients usually wanted a show piece craft for recreational use but some were raced successfully. His clients included two of the O'Neill brothers from Sydney's eastern suburbs, and Laurie O'Neill's boat MISS AUSTRALIA from 1961 had to be bigger than SKI-BYE, built for Les O'Neill in 1954.

Hammond designed and built the hull and the boats all followed a relatively similar pattern, but in most cases he would ask the client to source the engine, specify furnishings and provide other small items if required. They were generally 4.6 to 5.2 metres long and powered by flathead Fords and then V8s. He was influenced by features on some of the overseas powercraft such as the American Chris Craft or Italian Riva designs. The hulls were initially planked in Queensland maple, but later craft in the 1960s used Bruynzeel marine grade plywood. Most craft had a dark deck edge or covering board which contrasted with the fore and aft planking effect achieved by scoring and filling the plywood panels. The white seam this scored line created simulated the appearance of the decks on a Riva craft. The clear finished topsides were usually contested with a red bottom.

Most craft had a centremount arrangement with the decking over the engine aft of the forward cockpit continuous from side to side. A few craft such as SKI-BYE had a 'walkabout' arrangement with an access space either side of the engine. The boats were finished to the highest standard and owners maintained them accordingly.

Hammond also built a small number of motor cruisers or launches, but his clinker ski boats remain sought after objects by enthusiasts. Few records were kept and it is thought that he built around 150 wooden ski boats between 1948 and 1969, and then about 160 fibreglass Hammonds up until 1984. Harry Hammond passed away in 2007 aged 92.

MISS AUSTRALIA was a special boat, around 5.64 metres long, with a proud history. O'Neill was after something special to rival the craft he had seen in the USA. When the hull was completed he shipped it Los Angeles where Keith Black supplied a 600 hp Chrysler that was fitted by John Sofilos. MISS AUSTRALIA raced in the USA and is said to have recorded speeds up to 160 kph. The craft came back to Australia and was later fitted with a Ford Mercury V8. It is currently under restoration by Hammond's son Mark and will be a prize winning craft when it comes out for display and engine trials later in 2009.

More information is available on the Hammond Craft website: http://www.hammondboats.com.au/