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Sailing Match at Milang in 1858

Submitted by Terry Sim
on January 23, 2012

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With the Milang to Goolwa Fresh Water Classic boat race resuming this year (2012) I thought you might be interested in the attached items from the media in the early 1800’s regarding a race from Milang with the local favourite, the Lady MacDonnell and the Adelaide favourite, the Coquette.

From the SA Advertiser, Monday 12 July 1858.

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A match has been made between the owners of the cutters Coquette and Lady Macdonald for £50 a side, to sail round a five mile square in Lake Alexandrina, starting off Milang, to come off 23rd of September next. The conditions are as follows-That the course shall be staked out in not loss than 7 feet of water. The start to take place at 11 o’clock a.m., and the race to be concluded at sunset the same day, or to be sailed over on each successive day until the race is concluded within the above time. £25 a-side deposit is now in the hands of Messrs. Aldridge and Bayston, and the remaining £25 a-side to be posted with them on the 23rd of August next or forfeit.

SA ADVERTISER AUGUST 1858

A grand match for £50 a-side, between the “Lady Macdonnell” and “The Coquette” has been arranged to come off on the 23rd of September next, at Milang. The final deposit of the stakes took place at Messrs. Aldridge and Bayston’s, Adelaide, on Monday, 23rd August. Considerable interest attaches to this event, not only in the sporting world, but generally ; and should “The Coquette,” the town favourite, prove herself to be the victor, the attention of the colonial shipbuilders will, no doubt, be directed to her shapes and lines, which are stated to be extremely beautiful. We understand she has one peculiarity in her build, being without a keel, but in its place is attached a centre-board, so arranged as to be self-acting in case of snags or shoals ; and, consequently, she is enabled to navigate shallow waters-a great "advantage over vessels with the permanent keel. The " Lady Macdonnell" is reputed to be the fastest craft in South Australia. A large sum of money, it is expected, will change hands upon the result of the event.

SYDNEY SPORTING REVIEW OCTOBER 1858

A sailing match between the Coquette and Lady MacDonnell for £50 a-sidc, and which has excited considerable interest for some time, took, place on the 23rd instant, the wind, which in the morning was very light, began to fresh on towards the hour for the start, and during the day continued strong und squally. The course was twice round a square of five miles, thus making the "distance to be sailed 40 miles. Precisely at 11 am. & beautiful start was effected, the " Lady’ taking the lead. On rounding the judge’s boat the first time, the " Lady" s was in advance four and a half minutes, and maintained her position round the second lime until both rounded the last buoy from home, when the Coquette began to gain upon her, and came in the winner at 4’6 p.m., the “Lady” at 4 7¿ p.m., thus gaining by a minute and a half the finest sailing match which has ever been witnessed in South Australia. Both boats were beautifully handled, the Coquette being steered by Mr Shepherd, and the Lady Mac- Donnell by Mr Hilton Starter, Mr Rae judge, Mr Ben Varcoe. These gentlemen discharged their onerousduties to the satisfaction of all.-

The Coquette

from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Townsend Duryea (1823-1888), In 1857 Duryea used experience gained in America as a shipbuilder to build the thirty-foot cutter Coquette behind the Maid and Magpie Hotel at Magill. Though the cutter was said to be for the River Murray trade but it was used mainly in racing.

The Lady MacDonnell – was a 21 foot craft owned and built by Mr Chant at Port Adelaide. She was built specifically for the lakes.




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