Site Map | Français | Contact Us

Setting Sail

Profile view of International 14 KC 1, Lady Esther, 1935. (CSTMC)

Yachting in Canada dates formally to the first half of the 19th century, with the earliest establishments in Halifax (1837) and Toronto (1854). As with competitive rowing, the yachting tradition belonged to the leisure class and was largely transplanted to Canada from the United Kingdom—both facts being clearly evident in the frequent use of "Royal" before the names of Canadian yacht clubs. As we have seen, recreational sailing was also an aspect of the wooden canoe and skiff traditions in Canada. Yachting, however, focused almost exclusively on the skills and speed associated with handling boats under sail. Yacht and sailing clubs provided a social forum and institutional structure for regular competitions.

Inboard detail of International 14 KC 1, Lady Esther, 1935. (CSTMC)

In the 19th century, yachting involved primarily larger vessels, but with the growth of the leisure class, competitive sailing soon extended, through a network of clubs, to smaller, open sailboats, with smaller, often one- or two-person crews. The International 14 dinghy originated in the west of England at the end of the 19th century. John Gallagher, writing in Yacht Racing and Cruising (June 1981, p. 87), described it as "the premier class in the development of dinghy sailing as we know it today." In a chapter in Pleasure Boating, Sail and Power (New York: Crescent Books, 1977, p. 32), Goran Peterson called the International 14 "the leading precursor of all dinghy sailing." In 1927, the International 14 became the first dinghy classified by the International Yacht Racing Union and the class made its formal appearance in Canada in the 1930s.

Transom view of International 14 KC 1, Lady Esther, 1935. (CSTMC)

The popularity and success of the International 14 are based on its reputation as a lively boat carrying a lot of sail and demanding a high degree of skill from its crew. As a development class, rules have been established for the International 14 that serve as parameters within which various innovations and changes can be implemented by individual designers. (See Rod Mincher's article "Designers' Forum: The Development Dinghy" in Yachting, November 1980, p.98). Canadians, above all Bruce Kirby (famous for his design of the Laser), have made important contributions to the development of this class.

The Museum's collection contains the first registered International 14 in Canada. Known by its given name, Lady Esther, the vessel dates from 1935 and bears the sail number KC 1 (930277). Designed in Toronto by Charles Bourke, but owned and sailed in Ottawa from 1941 until its acquisition by the Museum, Lady Esther enjoyed a long and successful competitive career, coming in first in all three races at the First Annual Regatta of the St. Lawrence Valley Yacht Racing Association. Moreover, as a resident of the Brittannia Yacht Club in Ottawa, this early International 14 was very well-known to, and raced by, a certain gifted young yachtsman by the name of Bruce Kirby.