The sandbagger sloop is a sailboat that gained its popularity in the 19th century. Its intended use was that of a work vessel, but soon became used as a pleasure craft. The sandbagger was built modeling the shoal-draft sloops that were used for oyster fishing. The term sandbagger came from the sandbags that were shifted from side to side in order to gain the most power from the sails. The sandbags weighed up to 50 pounds. Gravel was actually used to fill the sandbags though so they did retain too much water.
These sailboats ranged from 20 to 30 feet in length and needed a crew of 10 to 15 men in order to sail. The sail areas were disproportionate to their size. The gaff-rigged main was on an extremely long boom and the jib on another very long bowsprit. These boats soon became popular for their racing. Many of these races had large sums of money staked on them. The men would get so competitive that sometimes during a race they would throw a sandbag overboard, or even a crew member!
In the late 1800’s a fleet of seven sandbagger sloops were well-known on Lake Geneva. Many of the wealthy Chicagoans would travel north to Geneva where they would spend the summer. Lt. General Phillip H. Sheridan was one that visited the area. When he wished to see a race first hand, money was collected and a trophy created. They raced around the lake, about a 16-mile race in total. This race became ever so popular in Geneva. By the turn of the century though, the sandbagger style was pushed out of popularity as various other styles began to appear.
It is the wish to reintroduce the sandbagger sloop to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with the Tattler II.