Hartley TS16 Association of Australia

History of the Association


The Boat

The boat was designed by Richard Hartley of New Zealand, as an affordable trailer sailor that could be built by a person with basic carpentry skills in their own garage. In fact, it was specifically designed to fit inside the standard garage of the 1960’s. The original shape was based on a small New Zealand mullet fishing boat that was a safe and tested design. The Hartley Trailer Sailor was then adjusted in dimensions to fit the garage while taking advantage of the fractional sloop design. When Richard Hartley presented the trophies at the first Annual Hartley TS 16 Championship in1965, he mentioned that he never had expect the boat he designed from a mullet fishing boat is a day sailor would become such a competitive centreboard racing craft. George Hearne the founder of the Association was looking for a boat which could take the whole family.

The Association

  1. Association started from a group of Hartley TS16 owner builders in New South Wales. George Hearne based managed to find out the names of other builders and then approached them to see if they would like to cruise together. Eight owners and enthusiasts; George Hearne, John Griffin, Les Erwin, Arthur Corby, Ron Dunphy, Doug Cook, Walter Dunphy, Lionel Hewish (Heron Association) met on 12th December 1963 and decided to form the “Trailer Sailor Association of Australia”. goal was to promote the Hartley 16-foot trailer sailor, to be known as the TS 16 as a one class design, and encourage competition between registered yachts throughout Australasia. The NSW Association was also formed on the same day at the same meeting and allowance for other States to be formed when needed, before the New Zealand Association (Hearne PtA 1984). This name was chosen because at the time the Hartley TS16 was the only trailer sailor on the market. This is why our class still has the original insignia of a black sail with and white “T” in the middle. Not until the appearance of other trailer sailors did the Association include the name of the boat in the Association’s name. At the same time the ABC created a new weekly show called “Build Your Own Boat.” which over seven episodes showed how to build a Hartley TS16 at home. This created great interest in the boat and increased numbers dramatically.


George Hearne convinced the committee of BYRA on 14th August 1964 to allow Hartley TS16’s to sail at the club. Initially they raced every second weekend as they cruised around Pittwater on the other weekend. The Hartley owners travelled from all over Sydney to sail at BYRA and grew in numbers. Unfortunately, their popularity caused friction with other classes at BYRA culminating in the club creating a new rule on the 4th April 1966 that limited the maximum number of Hartley TS 16 boats to 20 and giving preference to all you members who lived in the North Shore area. This excluded many of the Hartley owners as they came from central and western Sydney. This combined with the travel time to BYRA lead to a break with the club. The Hartley’s then moved to various locations around the inner harbour starting with Chiswick, then Greenwich and finally settling at Drummoyne Sailing Club.

The first significant championship was conducted in March 1965 at BYRA called the Annual Championships as it was aimed at becoming a National Championships but only had NSW boats because BYRA was the only club in Australia sailing Hartley TS16’s at this time. However, Doctor John Ainsley from Port Ferry attended the Championship and he returned to Victoria keen to set up a Victorian Association around Port Phillip Bay, which was formed by 1966 (Hearne PtB 1984).

One Class design

During the last five decades the Hartley TS16 have proved to one of the most enduring classes with plans for new Hartley TS16’s still being sold through the Association today. During this period the only real changes made to the original design have been to the rigging and rudder construction. Both these original wooden and plywood constructions have been replaced with modern Aluminium spars and frames to improve the performance end strength of these components. To improve the racing performance, the main change has been to the jib halyard tension which has improved the pointing angle upwind.

The racing competitions have varied but at the top were the International Championships held in New Zealand and Australia for the team title of Inter-Dominion Hartley TS16 Champion. Today Hartley TS16 are still sailed in New Zealand but the transport and travel costs have put paid to the Inter-Dominion Champions. The National Championships are still going strong, being held in rotational order in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia but have been held in every State in the past. The Australian Championships are usually held after Christmas and run a standard Olympic course over seven heats. The State Titles have been also conducted in most States are currently still active in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The nature of the Hartley TS16 with its large cockpit area also make it the perfect day cruiser. Official Association cruises have been run most States and are still being conducted in Victoria and New South Wales on a regular basis. Many of our members have also taken to cursing in more scenic areas such as the Whitsunday Islands, Darwin, Indonesia, Gippsland and, Myall Lakes. Besides the camping day sailing the Hartley is the perfect affordable family day sailor with many of our members using this boat to teacher their children to sail and share the sailing experience as a family.