The following is an excerpt from the Middle Harbour Regatta Program 1959
THE MIDDLE HARBOUR 16FT. SKIFF SAILING CLUB
1902 to 1959
THE Club apparently came into being during the year 1902 after discussion by enthusiasts outside Adams' Store, The Spit, while a few boats of odd shapes and designs were in the vicinity. The gentlemen concerned were J. Adams Snr., J. Alderton Snr., and George Snow.
They convened a meeting of interested boat owners and meetings were held in Stansell's Hotel (where the present Mosman Hotel now stands) and a fleet of 11 boats competed in early events.
In these early days, the local business people began to take an interest in the Club and in conjunction with other organizations held Aquatic Carnivals from 1904 till 1909. These carnivals were in aid of the North Shore Hospital. A large number of events apart from sailing were contested keenly, such as dressing of boats, slippery pole, pillow fights and numerous other athletic events.
Old photographs and programmes of these carnivals are proudly displayed in the recreation room of this Club and convey to viewers the hilarious atmosphere of these early days at The Spit. These same organizations then formed the Mosman Park Improvements Committee and voluntarily built and fenced the Mosman Oval at no expense to Council.
The Club Committee at the 4th March, 1905, consisted of Messrs. S.Humphries, R. Oatley, G. Morris, G. Ellis, E. Croft, W. Devlin, C. Wilson, J. Alderton Snt, J. Adams Snr., Chas. Stewart, C. Lyons, Sid Ward, H. Croft and W. Searle. During this season the fleet had grown to 24 boats of all classes and races were conducted over the all-weather course around the Bombora buoy.
The Club continued to grow and prosper until the 1914-18 war. Upon cessation of hostilities, boats were again racing over the familiar course.
During these early years boats were stored in various boatsheds along the foreshores of Middle Harbour and club meetings were held in the Ventura Tea Rooms. In 1920-21 meetings were held in the Mosman Town Hall and the Cremorne School of Arts. It is interesting to note that up till this time boats were unrestricted in as much as they varied from 10ft. to 22ft. in length. Some were decked, some canvas, but all in all, they were boats with a sail.
The year 1923 was the year when the name Middle Harbour 16ft. Skiff Sailing Club came into being and it is understood that it is the oldest 16ft. Skiff Sailing Club in the Commonwealth. Previous to this club, the Port Jackson Club was formed but unfortunately has now gone out of existence.
Progress was the order of the day but unfortunately the Club had no clubhouse, and in 1935 Mr. Sid Thatcher called a special meeting at the Mosman Town Hall, the decision of this meeting being to go ahead with the building of a clubhouse. In this direction Messrs. Harold D. & W. E. Arnott assisted materially and financially. Mention must also be made of Mr. Frank Walters, who assisted the club with materials and ready assistance with finance. In 1936 building operations on a voluntary basis began and by the end of the year several skiffs were occupying the shed and within twelve months of the commencement, the clubhouse, measuring 60ft. x 40ft., was complete with stagings and ramps. Two years later the clubhouse was free of debt.
By 1946 the fleet of skiffs had grown too big to house them all in the shed and the Club decided to raise funds and enlarge the structure.
This was done and under the direction of Mr. Jack Ray, with a voluntary effort, the building was enlarged to 60ft. x 90ft. of two stories and large landing ramps and boat storage area for some 40 boats.
The modern 16ft. skiff of today is constructed on the moulded plywood design, and is built to rules and regulations agreed upon by all affiliated clubs in Australia. Sail areas are restricted to 220 square feet in Mainsail and Jib which are used for tacking to windward. Extra sails used for running with the wind are permitted but are not to exceed 140 square feet in area.
On this day, the reintroduction of the Middle Harbour Regatta, this Club would welcome visits by any of the past members. Quite a number of your old sailing friends will be present and we feel sure you would like to yarn about old times.