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Australian Sailing Museum

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by Victoria Button (subscribe)
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Published February 1st 2012
During his long and successful racing career, West Australian sailor Rolly Tasker raced more than 340,000 nautical miles equivalent to sailing around the world more than 16 times.

There weren't sponsors in his racing days, so the Australia's first sailor to win an Olympic medal also made his own boats and sails, garnering skills that later made the trained accountant a motza in various marine businesses.

So it is that a man whose boyhood passion included making model boats was able to privately fund and establish the Australian Sailing Museum in Mandurah, which has a collection dominated by scale models of every yacht ever to challenge for or defend the America's Cup.

Australian Sailing Museum

Opened in 2008, the museum is a large space which clearly cost a lot of money, however it retains a down-home feel - a newsletter on its website combines news of visits from dignitaries with a eulogy for Tasker's late toy poodle, Nero.

As well as the many models of yachts and other historic ships, the museum boasts artifacts such as the boat shoes worn by Dennis Conners in his America's Cup victory in Fremantle in 1987, a sailing cap worn by Jock Sturrock in 1960s America's Cup races, and waxworks of prominent sailors past and present.

Dennis Conners' Boat Shoes

One of the waxworks is of Victorian-era America's Cup yacht owner, the magnificently named Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, 4th Earl of Dunraven, lamented international contests.

I think they tend to demoralise sport by turning it into a serious business in which national prestige is at stake, and to convert amateurs playing a game for the game's sake, into professional specialists struggling for their country's sake," he is quoted as saying.

Interestingly, a waxwork figure of Alan Bond was stolen before it could ever be put on public display, and has not since been found.

Waxwork figures

Mixed up in all the historic displays are products for sale from Tasker's business Rolly Tasker Sails.

There are also old photographs, illustrations of pennants from different sailing clubs and a rare full-size model of The America's Cup.

Old sailing photo on display

Full size replica of the Americas Cup

Sailing club pennants

The foyer combines ornately-framed art for sale with a cafe.

Sailing fans could probably spend hours in this place, marvelling over rigging set-ups and more; a friend of mine who is a sailor emerged having bought half a dozen prints of different generations of America's Cup yachts.

For the rest of us landlubbers, it's a mildly interesting outing which also has the advantage of being air-conditioned and out of the rain if the weather is misbehaving.

Having read a little more about Tasker as part of researching this article, I think the one thing that's missing from the museum is more detail about Tasker himself. He gets a mention, but it would be great to have a display case detailing his sailing and business careers alongside old family photos and mementos.

There are some videos of interviews with Tasker here.

Another opportunity to expand the appeal of this museum would be to explore the feats of precocious sailor Jessica Watson, who sailed unassisted around the world, which might also prove a point of interest for younger sailors and women.

Australian Sailing Museum

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Why? Quirky waxwork characters and a gazillion model yachts.
When: 9am-5pm daily.
Where: 22 Ormsby Terrace, Mandurah
Cost: $10 adult, $5 child
Your Comment
Sadly the Museum has closed
by Talyn10 (score: 0|2) 2216 days ago
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