Sydney Model Shipbuilders Expo cruises into town

It's been smooth sailing since retiring for Piotr Kolaczkowski.

After giving up his job fitting out offices five years ago Piotr want to keep his mind active.

So he launched himself into the hobby of model shipbuilding and has left everyone in his wake, last year winning the top prize, the Leon Griffith Shield for his contribution to the craft of model ship building.

Piotr will be exhibiting about eight of his model ships at 7th annual Sydney Model Shipbuilders Club 2019 Expo to be held at the Georges River 16ft Sailing Club on Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25.

Last week, he previewed three of his models of three iconic ships that he will be exhibiting at the Expo.

These were his model of the United States frigate, The Constitution, the Santisima Trinidad of Spain and the HMS Endeavour.

The Constitution was the first model he built. He chose this particular ship because he was inspired by its story.

"I read about the Constitution because it fought the ships bringing slaves from Africa to America," Piotr said.

"I was told it was a difficult model ship to start with but I was determined."

His model of The Constitution is built to a scale of 1:93 and took eight months to build.

Most people would take two years to build the same model but Piotr was carried along by his enthusiasm.

"One time I was very nervous and broke a sail. After that I've been very calm," he said.

"When I finished it I celebrated by having a bottle of scotch, but I didn't smash it on the hull."

Piotr was inspired to build his next model the Santisima Trinidad because he read of the bravery if its crew in the Battle of Trafalgar. It is built to a sale of 1:90 and took seven months to build.

"The Santisima Trinidad was attacked in the battle by the British and lost all three of its masts. The crew lowered a long boat and hauled the ship towards the British fleet so it could keep firing its cannons. Eventually the Spanish surrendered and it was taken to Gibraltar and eventually sank."

His choice of the Endeavour needs no explanation.

"Aussie, Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi," he said.

Piotr, 73, escaped from Poland in 1984 made his way to Greece and then Australia to join his brother, Mark.

Eventually, Piotr's family, wife Barbara, son Matt and daugther Aga were able to join him.

"My first hobby was travelling around Australia with my wife," he said. "Every year we went somewhere new. We travelled thousands of miles. This country is fantastic for driving."

He stopped touring and took up ship modelling.

"I always liked building models but I had no time," he said. "Now I have plenty of time.

"As I am finishing my latest model, I am thinking of the next one," he said.

So far Piotr has made 12 models.

His latest work in progress, a cross-section of the Nelson's Victory, will be exhibited at the Expo

Piotr said Barbara is very supportive of his hobby, "both psychologically and financially."

He said you need three qualities to be a model shipbuilder, "patience, patience, patience."

Expo organiser, Michael Bennett said there will be a great variety of model ships on display at the expo.

"For the Expo we combine with six other clubs, each with a different focus to ensure that there will be a great variety of models on display.

"In total we will have about 100 models on display at the expo, ranging from 16th and 17th century warships to contemporary warships.

"Some are bitl for display only, others are radio-controlled and regularly sailed.

"This year we are hoping to have a display of working models of Sydney ferries as a special treat," Michael said.

The 2019 Expo will be held at the Georges River 16ft Sailing Club at Sanoni Avenue, Sandringham on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24.

Hours at 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sunday.

Admission is free and all ages are welcome. There will be a raffle with the prize of model starter kit for kids.

For more information on the Sydney Model Shipbuilders Club go to: or phone Michael Bennett on 0411 545 770.