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William Percy (Skipper) Batt (1879–1947)

Mr William Percy ("Skipper") Batt, one of the finest helmsmen ever to compete in Australia, and builder and designer of many champion small class yachts, collapsed and died in Hobart yesterday while building a dinghy.

Mr Batt, who was aged 68, had maintained his association with aquatic bodies in Hobart with which he had been associated all his life.

He was well known in yachting circles throughout the Commonwealth and had been a patron of the sport on the Derwent.

Born at Hobart, Mr Batt took an interest in yachting at an early age when he competed in races conducted by the Derwent Model Yacht Club.

He showed outstanding skill in sailing and designing sailing craft as a boy, and won exhibitions for designing and building models.

A keen oarsman in his youth, Mr. Batt competed with success in races for short fours at Hobart regattas.

Later he sailed on the Derwent in 15ft dinghies for many years, until the one design Derwent class was established, when he competed in Weene, owned by himself and his brother, Mr Harry Batt.

In 1916 he enlisted in the AIF and served overseas in France. While in England he visited yachtsmen in various parts of the country.

Of the 12 wins gained by Tasmania from 15 starts in the Forster Cup for 21-footers, Mr Batt was successful on six occasions.

He designed and sailed the original Tassie which was successful at Hobart in 1925. He also won the trophy in Perth in 1926, in Adelaide in 1927, in Brisbane in 1929, in Sydney in 1933, and in Brisbane in 1935.

Mr Batt also designed Tassie Too and Tassie III, built in 1928 and 1930.

Mr Batt's brother, Harry, has won the cup on four occasions.

Mr Batt built the cadet dinghies Kittiwake and Rangare, both of which have won the Stonehaven Cup for 12ft dinghies.

Rangare was successful in Hobart in 1927 and in Sydney in 1934, and Kittiwake in Adelaide in 1933, in Melbourne in 1935, and in Hobart in 1938.

He designed and built the 16ft skiffs Gumnut, winner of the Ajax Cup interstate competition, and Wee Davie, and designed the Batt, Meteor, and Miss Diamond of the same class.

He also was the designer of Anitra which is still competing on the Derwent in "B" class.

In 1935 Mr Batt was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal and some years ago was made a life member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania with which he had been actively associated for many years.

He was a member of the Tassie advisory committee of the club which was formed to investigate the proposal for building a new boat for the competition's next season.

During the war, Mr Batt competed in Derwent class competitions in Wendy with success. He won the championship pennant on one occasion.

He also was a member of the Returned Servicemen's League, and an original member of the VDC during the Second World War.

Mr Batt, who was a master cooper at the Cascade Brewery, Hobart, for many years, retired about three years ago.

He leaves a wife and daughter, Ray (Mrs L. Gabriel).

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'Batt, William Percy (Skipper) (1879–1947)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

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