A legend of the League

William ‘Bill’ Fisher is a legend among the 18-Footer fraternity. Here, Frank Quealey charts his history and contribution to the League.

19 April 2022


Bill Fisher was a foundation member of the 18-Footers League and sailed his boat Australia in the club’s first.

After coming to the new League from the Sydney Flying Squadron (SFS), after there had been a split between the SFS and competitors, he occupied all the official positions in the club.

He was Commodore, Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore before becoming President for a period of 22 years between 1940 and 1962. He was Patron when he died on 2 February, 1968.

He was a master boat builder who built Australia (1921), Cutty Sark (1925), All British (1935), Australia II (1936), Miranda (1937), J.L. Glick (1937), Australia III (1938), Amy (1944) and Spindrift (1944).

Before coming to the League, Fisher sailed six-foot, 10-foot and 16-foot boats at various clubs, then 18-footers at the SFS. In January 1931, he came within 20 seconds of winning the 1930-31 Australian Championship in his first Australia boat.


When he came to the League, he sailed on alternate days so he could continue his launch service from La Perouse to Kurnell.

Fisher won many championships at the SFS during the 1920s and early 1930s before switching to the League. One of the most notable wins in Australia was in February 1930 when he competed in the annual Queen of the Harbour race.

In the race, Fisher had a Miss Casey as passenger, because she had raised money for a hospital charity. The most successful money-raisers were allowed to sail in the race in a boat of their choice. The girl on the winning boat received a free motor car.

According to reports, Miss Casey arrived in an elaborate white sailing costume and offered Fisher ten pounds to win the race.

The usually placid Fisher let her know that she was not at Randwick Racecourse and that the skipper of an 18-footer never needed encouragement to win.  He always wants to win, every time.

Fisher had predicted a strong southerly wind and had Australia rigged with sails smaller than the rest of the fleet. When the southerly buster hit the fleet, Fisher was trailing but took full advantage of the blow, coming from behind to win the race.

Miss Casey got her motor car.



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