Half model - Sailing Boat Hulls ; 0000.01562-1&2


Kempsey Museum


Half model - Sailing Boat Hulls

About this object

These two scaled half model hulls were made for German Verge, a pioneering son of the Macleay Valley. The hulls are of the racing dinghy Shadow, which won many regattas in the 1880s on the Macleay and Hastings rivers. The Shadow won the Member’s Cup at Port Macquarie three times – 1885, 1888 and 1890. She also won the Frederickton Regatta Cup.

The half-model hulls were used as the plans to build the racing dinghy and to gain the correct curvature and shape of the hull with minimum wood wastage, for maximum speed through the water. The shaping of the hull was integral to the speed of the boat and its aqua-dynamics. The hulls are made up of four layered sections on a red cedar base. The sections are pegged and screwed together. One model is an amendment of the original, cut and reduced by 30mm.

German Verge [1839-1920] was a son of Colonial architect and Macleay valley pioneer John Verge. He had large properties on the Lower Macleay which he farmed and grazed cattle and leased land to small farmers. He also had properties on Upper Macleay and at Tamworth. His wealth enabled him to commission racing boats and he was also instrumental in the formation of the Macleay River Co-op Steamship Co. He never married.

On his death, German Verge bequeathed land, his house and contents including the models and trophies to the Shadow’s Captain, John Ironfield, suggesting a strong bond between the two men.

The model hulls evidence Verge’s wealth which enabled him to not only participate in local sailing regattas, but also commission state of the art racing boats, such as the Shadow. Commissioning racing boats was a significant investment. The hulls appear to have been built by a master boat builder and would have been handed to Verge at the same time as his racing dingy as ‘intellectual property’.

During the late 19th century sailing regattas were popular social events in river towns. Crowds of all social classes gathered on river banks and on board steamers and droghers to watch and cheer on their favourites. The model hulls serve as a reminder of such times and of the men who participated as sailors and investors at regattas on the Macleay and Hastings rivers.

Peter Ryan, 24 July 2014.

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