10ft Skiff

Designed by

Lead Designer
Norman R. Wright

10' x 6' x 2'


Propulsion Detail


Design Notes

Designed, built and skippered by Norman R. Wright.

Norman first built a half model of the full boat he wished to build – this model still exists today and is in Bill and Angus office at NRW. When satisfied with the shape, he took the lines off the model and lofted the boat on the attic floor of their family home. The lofting of the boat was still on the floor of the house when it was finally demolished about 15 years ago.





NRW Newstead



Build Notes

Commonwealth weighed around 100 kgs.


Commissioned by
Norman R. Wright

Last Known Name

Last Known Owner
G Conway

Last Known Location
Last seen at the Manly skiff club by Ron Wright in the early 1950s


History Notes

During the 1893 flood a large cedar log was swept into the property and was quickly secured by Norman and his brothers. After the flood the log was milled to quarter sawn planks and stored for future family projects.

Twelve years later Norman finally had a use for this beautiful quarter sawn Cedar, deciding to build his first Racing Skiff. He decided to build a 10 foot Skiff, which was a very popular boat for young, up and coming sailors at the time.

She was launched in 1906 on a Saturday morning, and according to a press clipping from the Courier Mail, she raced later that afternoon and won the Australian Title. She was a magnificent sight when running with all of the gear up, with a spinnaker the same size as an Etchell, along with her mainsail, topsail, ringtail, watersail and balloon jib. She would measure over 40 foot from the tip of the spinnaker pole to the end of ringtail boom. To put this into perspective, on the wind, this 10 foot skiff, the mainsail and jib, had more area than an Etchell. Downwind she would carry half as much sail again to that of an Etchell.

10ft Skiff Champion 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910.

Norman eventually sold “Commonwealth” in 1914 to Lance Watts due to starting his business “Norman R Wright Boatbuilder”. He was so busy with building his business that sailing took a back seat for a while, culminating in the start of World War 1 in late 1914 meaning he did no sailing at all until 1919.

“Commonwealth’s” next owner was G. Conway who bought her in 1924, continuing her winning ways by taking out the Balmain Regatta that year, the Australia day Regatta in 1925 and Port Jackson Champion in 1925 & 1926. She was still racing successfully until 1930.

She was stored, we believe, in the Manly Skiff Club, Sydney for many years.

Not many boats can be sailed competitively for four decades, but “Commonwealth” certainly did.



Running with all the gear up

Sydney 1909

Photo of the crew in the boat

Beautiful action photo running up Hamilton Reach

Water sail and balloon jib plus spinaker

Believed to be circa 1909. The slip is at the Bulimba home of Norm's wife at Riverside Junction Quay and Brisbane Steets. We think the 3 boats are 22ft Gladys II (mast down),14ft Violet II and 10ft Commonwealth, all champions. Climbing down slip is xxx Wright. Standing in Commonwealth is N.R.Wright, and on the foredeck of Gladys xxx and Alex W sittig on Jetty with straw hat Lance Watts. Breeze NE (morning?) and Newstead House in the background. Site of the future Newstead yard under mountain in background.

Bill - This photo of the Commonwealth was given to me by Lance Watts who sailed her for a number of years (4-5) after NRW. I took off the lines from the original model in about 1980 and he then told me that she had been raised 4" for'd and 2" aft after the initial season when NRW won the interstate title on the Brisbane river in 1909.


Lines as taken off half model

Original pencil drawing - Lines


Believed to be another set of lines taken from half model


Original half model


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Matt Miller

My Great Grandmother was Gladys Conway and she was given her brothers trophy for winning the Port Jackson Championship by her brother and it has somehow stayed in the family without being thrown out.