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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr MARKS (Wentworth) .- I wish to bring before the Minister a matter with which he is well acquainted ; I refer to the absolute prohibition on the importation of racing yacht sails. I understand that he has this matter before him for reconsideration, but the facts are these: The greatest sailmakers in the world for practically the last century are the firm of Ratsey and Lapthorn, of Cowes. The business has been handed down from father to son. No racing yacht that takes part in an important race has other than Ratsey sails. Let me give examples of the excellence of these sails. My own success in the yachting world for practically 30 years was due to the use of Ratsey sails. Notwithstanding the fact that Wilson and Silsby are one of the greatest sailmaking firms in the United States of America, yet that nation imported seven sets of sails from Cowes for the last America Cup race. The United States of America has been able to retain that cup against Great Britain only by the use of Ratsey sails. In Australia the equivalent of the America Cup is the Sayonara Cup, which is an interstate race. I had the honour, in 1910, to be the first New South Welshman to wrest, with the aid of my famous Culwalla, that cup from Victoria. We have held the cup since 1910, and Victoria has now challenged with a better yacht than Mr. Frank Albert's eight-metre yacht.- He cannot defend the cup with any chance of success without Ratsey sails. He ha« ordered a set of the sails, and they are to-day in bond in Sydney. He is prepared to pay even 100 per cent, duty to obtain them, but there is an absolute prohibition against them. I do not mind if the duty is heavy, because Mr. Frank Albert cau well afford to pay it, but it is not right to place an absolute prohibition on these sails. Sport is perhaps the greatest thing in our Australian lives. The Minister has power under the act to lift the prohibtion, and if ho does so no harm will be done to the local sailmakes because if they were put in the witness box, good sportsmen as they are, they would admit that they could not make a Bermuda rig sail to fit a mast 75 ft. high, equal to a Ratsey sail. The race is to take place in January, so time is short. I appeal to the Minister to lift the prohibition so as to allow these sails to be admitted.

Mr Crouch - The same conditions would apply to the Victorian yacht.

Mr MARKS - The Victorian yacht has a set of Ratsey sails, and therefore has 100 per cent, advantage over our yacht.

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