In Sailing News


Drummoyne Sailing Club’s Ultimately Sinister, sailed by skipper Craig Jelfs and Neil Bilsborough, won the 2017/18 TS16 Australian championship on the open waters of Port Arlington on Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Last year’s winner, Uncle Roy, sailed by Eric Partland and Gary Wills came in equal second, but were placed third on a count back. All four are long-term members of DSC with decades of sailing with the club behind them.

Uncle Roy also took out the double on home waters for the season, winning both the Club Championship and Season Pointscore.

Craig Jelfs and the Bilsborough family have long proven a winning team with an unprecedented seven national titles. Jelfs has now won two nationals with Neil, four with Neil’s son Brendon and one with Neil’s daughter Leanne.

Craig’s sailing career began at DSC at the age of 12 in Sabots. He then progressed through the fleet to the TS16s.

Neil, a professional carpenter, built Ultimately Sinister and the two-time national champion Xtremely Sinister, now sailed at DSC by John Gilliard. Neil joined the fleet at DSC in 1977 and sailed with a series of skippers including Errol Coates and Craig. He regularly skippers Ultimately Sinister with Denis McDermott as his for’ard hand. Denis started sailing at DSC 61 years ago in VJs. He will be known to many members through his work as doorman at the Club.

Neil has built four TS16s and argues “anyone can build one. That was the idea: Richard Hartley designed them so anyone can build them.” Geoff Smith proved that. After retiring and with little carpentry experience behind him, Geoff built Hirondelle and now races with the TS16s fleet.

Eric started sailing as a 10 year old in VJs at DSC. In sixty years of sailing the local waters he has learned a great deal about the conditions. He said knowing the tides and the wind shifts is the key. He has won the Club Championship 12 out of the last 13 seasons. He won three times with his partner Pat McDonough, twice with Bobby Wark, three times with his son John and now four times with Gary.

Eric’s success at Drummoyne is not always repeated in the nationals due to the different conditions in open waters. Eric admits he and Gary are a light crew. “We are underweight. As soon as it got over 12 knots we were struggling. The same thing happens here but it doesn’t show up so much here because you tack so much more.”

Gary also knows the local waters well, he started sailing Sabots at DSC at the age of 12. 

Uncle Roy might have a light crew but Eric and Gary showed their mettle in Race 13 on December 2, 2017 when, after an afternoon of storms and strong gusting winds, they were the only finisher (Ultimately Sinister also completed the course, but was disqualified for breaking the start).

The TS16 is a stable boat but it can capsize. On December 2 the forecast looked threatening and half the fleet decided not to race. Of the seven boats that did start, two crossed the finish line, three pulled out and two capsized. Righting a TS16 is no easy task especially when they have turned turtle and the tip of their mast is stuck in the mud, which is what happened that day. Sandor Tornai, who was skippering the capsized Annette, took control of DSC-7 and righted Annette and towed it to shore. But Tranquil, which had also capsized, had leaks in its buoyancy tanks and could not be righted by DSC-7. Alex Palmer came to the rescue in the DSC Ian Stuart. On shore, more than half a dozen men, some of whom had sailed, others who had not, waited on the ramp and assisted Tranquil once she was ashore. The TS16s are a competitive crew but they are also always ready to assist each other when needed.  

The TS16s are clearly a family-friendly fleet and no family demonstrates that more than the Johnstons, who have three generations in the club. “I am still sailing, my sons are sailing and my grandson. We are sailing together,” Ron Johnston said.  Last year Ron built Annette and 2017/18 was her first season.

Ron, who is now 77 started sailing at Yarra Bay as a bailer boy, or fifth hand, in a 16ft skiff. Note to younger readers: if you are wondering how five people fitted in a 16, and why they needed a bailer boy, have a look at the boat in the Sailors Bar although Ron points out that in his day the boats were planked.

Ron’s sons David and Russell won the pointscore in Murphy’s Law in 2015/16 and last season Ron, with grandson Ben Speed, won the pointscore. Last season was Ben’s first and he won a special encouragement award.

This season, his second, Ben sailed in the Australian Championship in Annette with Sandor Tornai as skipper. Ben said, “We won the last race – it was good fun.”

Ian Campbell is another newcomer. He sailed a couple of times with Chris Giaquinto several years ago and crewed on the rescue boat. He took the plunge last year and bought Tempo from Ron Johnston. He began his first full season of sailing in 2017/18, sailing first with Peter Dallas in Kozi. Kozi. She was the oldest boat in the fleet, with a sail number of 466 although every winter Peter rebuilt and replaced parts of it. Peter liked to joke Kozi was like the bushman’s axe: he claimed he’d had the same axe for 20 years, though it had 5 new heads and 7 new handles. Peter sold Kozi before Christmas and Peter and Ian sailed Tempo for the rest of the season. 




1. Uncle Roy, Eric Partland and Gary Wills

2. Ultimately Sinister, Neil Bilsborough and Denis McDermott

3. Tranquil, Neil Johnson and Brett Pollitt


Season Point Score

1. Uncle Roy, Eric Partland and Gary Wills

2. Murphy’s Law, David and Russell Johnston

3. Tranquil, Neil Johnson and Brett Pollitt


Fastest Point Score

1. Uncle Roy, Eric Partland and Gary Wills

2. Tranquil, Neil Johnson and Brett Pollitt

3. Ultimately Sinister, Neil Bilsborough and Denis McDermott


Spring Point Score

1. Uncle Roy, Eric Partland and Gary Wills

2. Annette, Ron Johnston and Ben Speed

3. Ultimately Sinister, Neil Bilsborough and Denis McDermott


Summer Point Score

1. Vinca, Trevor Bell and Claudio Otoya

2. Tranquil, Neil Johnson and Brett Pollitt

3. Murphy’s Law, David and Russell Johnston


Gilliard Point Score

1. Pelican, Joe Horinek

2. Murphy’s Law, David and Russell Johnston

3. Hirondelle, Dick Voorderhake and Geoff Smith


Don Jelfs Memorial Point Score

1. Helen Joy, Chris Giaquinto and Keith Carter

2. Ultimately Sinister, Neil Bilsborough and Denis McDermott

3. Uncle Roy, Eric Partland and Gary Wills




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