Fury

Fury 2017-09-05T15:49:58+00:00

History

Fury, a skiff-class dinghy, was built in 1937 by Norman Wright & Sons of Bulimba, Brisbane. Its 4.88m (16ft) hull is of batten-seam construction, the normal method used for the class at the time, and it is rigged with a high peaked gunter mainsail. It was built for Norman Wright’s brother-in-law Vic Dixson and later sailed competitively. Race records indicate that it performed well and won the Wide Bay Championship in 1939–40. During World War II, American servicemen stationed in Brisbane took a liking to these fast, unique Australian boats and some, including Fury, were bought by ‘GIs’ and shipped back to the United States at the end of the war. According to one story, Fury went as deck cargo on a returning Liberty ship. By 1949 it was sailed in San Francisco waters.

In about 1960 Fury was bought by Californian Elmer Lowry in a derelict state, with evidence that someone had tried to convert it to a power boat. Elmer restored Fury to sailing condition (without plans or even knowing what it was) and sailed it on Newport Harbour, California. There an Australian named Richard Tucker met Elmer and identified the boat as an Australian skiff, after which Elmer named it Yotting, a play on the Australian pronunciation of yacht. Later Elmer took Yotting with him when he retired to Oregon, however it was not suited to sailing conditions there so was stored in a shed for about 20 years.

In 1990 Elmer gave Yotting to Annie Kolls, a keen wooden boat restorer and sailor, from San Diego, California, who continued sailing it. In 1992, at the time of the America’s Cup races, an Australian boating magazine published a story on the boat which included a plea from Annie for relevant information. This resulted in some ‘old skiffies’ contacting her and eventually the identity and history of the boat was revealed. One of the correspondents, Brisbane sailmaker (and QMM volunteer) Jack Hamilton, remembered hearing about Fury’s departure for America when he was still a lad.

Annie Kolls decided to visit Australia and meet the people who had identified her boat. The visit, the interest in the boat and the friendships she made convinced her to return Fury to Australia. In November 1996 it left California after some 50 years, brought to Australia by Columbus Shipping Lines, and Annie flew to Sydney to meet it on arrival. In 1997 she gave it to the QMM and into the care of Jack Hamilton. By 2002 Jack and his fellow Wooden Boat Association members had restored it to its original condition. In 2008 Fury sailed at occasional regattas, an ambassador for the museum and a testament to the generations of ‘skiffies’ who built and raced these unique Australian boats in years gone by.

Significance

Fury has historic significance as a fine example of the craftsmanship of the Wright family, important boatbuilders in Queensland for generations. It is also a representative example of the unique skiffs made in Australia throughout the 20th century, relatively few of which have survived. The boat is also significant for its outstanding provenance.