Fairlight II


Type :
Launched  :
Builder :
Cantiere Navale Leopoldo Rodriguez
Messina, Italy
Gross weight :
64 tons
Dimensions :
28.96 x 5.85 (metres)
Passenger capacity :
Speed :
32 knots

Fairlight was a Rodriguez PT50 hydrofoil and the second to be introduced to the Manly fleet.

When she entered service with her running mate Manly she proved a popular addition. With two hydrofoils in the fleet now offering fast (and mostly affordable) travel, the Manly company decided that it's future would be with these fast vessels. Before the company was sold in 1972 a total of five hydrofoils would be operating. Initially the hydrofoils were profitable; it was only later with numerous breakdowns and industrial issues that they started to become problematic to operate.

The final death knell for the hydrofoils was the introduction of the three (later four) Freshwater class ferries - the travelling public voted with their feet and wallets and headed back to the slower and more traditional mode of transport.

During the first three years of life of the hydrofoil fleet over 60 propellors had to be replaced due to a design flaw. Fairlight was the first hydrofoil to be modified to correct this failure. As initially designed, the propellor sat forward of the aft foil. Basically anything that was going to hit the aft foil hit the propellor first and this happened often. The fix was to move the propellor behind the aft foil as the foil was stronger and generally deflected anything that hit it away from the propellor. The fix was costly, but better than spending $700 for a new propellor each time one was damaged. As well, the propellor had to be sent from the builder resulting in legthy delays while the vessel was laid up awaiting repairs.

In 1970 Fairlight was taken to Newcastle in two hours (a record she would hold until Sydney would do the trip in 1 hour 35 minutes). Compare this to the XPT which when introduced did the trip in two hours fifteen minutes - it's even slower now.

In her later life Fairlight was plundered (along with Curl Curl) for parts to keep the Long Reef operational. She was withdrawn from service in 1984. By 1985 Fairlight had been laid up for ten months. A combination of lack of parts and industrial action signed the death warrant for the vessel and she was ultimately scrapped at Homebush Bay in 1988 along with Dee Why & Palm Beach.

Fairlight has one enduring claim to fame - the Fairlight CMI Synthesiser released in 1979 was named after her. The company (Australian) that built the synthesiser chose the name Fairlight because hydrofoils represented the latest in technological achievements.