It is recorded that 12ft. skiff racing was in full swing as far back as 1896 when the boats were only allowed the use of mainsail and jib. The racing was held on the Lane Cove River. In l914 the actual first 12ft. Skiff class was formed and raced under the name of the Cremorne Club. This club lasted for two seasons. In 1916 the present Lane Cove Club, under the title of the Lane Cove Vagabond Club, rehabilitated the l2ft. skiff class following the winding up of the Cremorne Club. In the early days of the 12ft. skiff class the sail area was restricted, but with the forming of the Greenwich Club in 1924, the approach of there being no sail size limit came into practice, as the sole object of this club was 'best and best'. The Lane Cove club followed suit, also the Spit Club (formed 1928-29 and abandoned 1934-35) - with the boats going over to the Vaucluse Amateur Club (formed 1931-32), and this club advocated restricted sail areas but was outvoted by the other New South Wales clubs and Queensland.

1924 was also the year the class adopted an unrestricted sail area, up to this point they had a comparatively small sail plan, but with the abolition of that rule the boats quickly began to develop exceptionally large sail areas. They were planked as seam-batten carvel hulls in Queensland cedar, and sailed by four crew, with gaff mains, ringtails and enormous spinnakers.

The Skiff Council was formed in 1926 by delegates from the Lane Cove, Greenwich, the Spit and Vaucluse clubs, subsequently the Concord-Abbotsford-Gladesville joined and later Drummoyne, Double Bay, St. George and Balmoral clubs affiliated. The Skiff Council conducted races for the State Championship, Port Jackson Championship, Upper Harbour and Middle Harbour Championships. By 1947 the Skiff Council was becoming unwieldy so a new body called the NSW 12ft Sailing Skiff Association was formed. In the sixties Hunters Hill club was formed, then in the early seventies Sydney Flying Squadron and Saratoga clubs affiliated.