History of Yarrawonga Yacht Club





Formation 1938:  When the local people started clearing the lake, their original idea was to clear a Rowing Course when that was completed the question was asked ‘why not clear a bigger area and make a lake for sailing?’

In 1938, Tom Hanrahan and Don Forbes, on a trip to Mildura, came to Lake Boga where they watched a number of yachts sailing.

The Lake Boga Yacht Club gave full details of the Moth Class Association and offered to bring some Moths to Yarrawonga, and assist in the establishment of a yacht club. The idea was taken up enthusiastically in Yarrawonga and after their visit on 5th September 1938, the Yarrawonga Yacht Club (YYC) was formed.

When the club was formed they had a President and a Vice President, Commodore and Vice Commodore, Tom Hanrahan was a trained accountant and took the position of Treasurer which position he held until about 1953 (approx 15 years) then Keith Robinson, an accountant with New Zealand Loan, took over the position.


Original members were William Wallace Hargrave and his wife Olive Hargrave, Phillip and Margaret Hargrave, Harry Haebich, Mr & Mrs Dean Briggs, Thomas Hanrahan and Mrs Hanrahan, William A Pretty (Chemist from Brian Nicholls Pharmacy), William Boyd, Charles French, John Grant and Stan Victor. 

Application was made to the Shire of Yarrawonga for a site on which to erect a building and a pier, which was by built by voluntary labour and a contract was let to Mr Norman Hallett for the erection of the original section of the building for 125 pounds. A site was chosen on the Yarrawonga foreshore, adjacent to the bridge.

Unfortunately, before the building was completed war was declared (3 September 1939) and the club was more or less in recess for some years until the building of the Mulwala Explosives Factory was complete. When the factory was opened a request was received from the manager to re-establish the club as a suitable form of recreation for employees.  Eventually this building was erected and was approximately 30ft x 40ft, complete with a sink and an electric urn at the south end of the building. When more than 60 members joined the club prospered.

Early growth of sailing in our region

“All in together” races included all kinds of sailing boats, but principally Moth Class. Yarrawonga Club was requested by the association to take a number of boats to the Hume Weir and establish a club.

Soon after the declaration of war in 1939, Alec Ross, a member of the Royal St Kilda Yacht Club, (now Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron), came to Yarrawonga as Manager of the State Savings Bank. He introduced an International Class of boat, the Penguin Dinghy.  A charter was obtained 19 February 1948, Fleet No 29 from Headquarters in America. A large number were built in Yarrawonga and Albury over these years.  The Penguin Dinghy is an open type boat and requires skilful sailing.

Tom Hanrahan had a 16 ft clinker boat built powered by a 6 cylinder Vauxhall motor, which was used as the Yacht Club Rescue Boat for many years until approx 1955.

October 1951 Basil Smith joined YYC when he purchased Red MK 11 Moth named Spitfire from Des Tuttle for 90 pounds. Des Tuttle, Graham Burley, Frank Bond and three others built six Moths (which were financed by WF Tuttle) in 1950 -1951.

Mr RJ Williams was usually the starter / Handicapper (there were no Victorian Yachting Council yardstick in those days, if you won you gained a 1 minute penalty).  Mr NE Jenkins acted as starter / handicapper and also was involved in writing Yacht Club news items for the Yarrawonga Chronicle. Among the early sailors in YYC was Dean Briggs, who was joined by his daughter Joy Briggs. However Joy was not the only female sailor; Lita and Dean Bond sailed regularly during breaks from Teachers College.

Often the ladies of the club would provide afternoon tea consisting of cream cakes and other goodies. Mr and Mrs John A Gorman visited occasionally (they had more regular attendance during the 1940’s).

During the late 1940’s a lot of discussion was held in regard to the YYC relocating to the vacant Capri Water site (now called the Services Club Resort). However, water-skiing was first introduced into Yarrawonga in 1949, the sport being promoted by Bert Foster who proceeded to develop the Capri Waters site.

Later, with the introduction of the Gwen Class, the club experienced a complete change to bigger boats. Membership again waned, until other towns, mainly Wangaratta, became interested in sailing.

Over the years there were three organised boat-building programmes to increase the number of boats in the club. Firstly six Moths were built – financed by WF Tuttle, then six Fireball Class boats and six Mirror Class yachts by senior residents at the Yarrawonga High School evening classes and six at “The Centre” classes at Wangaratta.

Competition became popular

The honour was given to Yarrawonga in 1958 to organise the Australian Moth Championship in which six of the best boats from each State competed to determine the Australian Champion. From that date Yarrawonga Yacht Club received a great name in sailing and the regattas have been growing each year.

The classes of yachts sailed at Yarrawonga during the 1960’s were Fireball, Moth, Heron, Gwen, Mirror and Sabot. At the committee meeting held on 13 December 1967 it was decided to purchase a rescue boat immediately. This was a 14’ aluminium hull with a 10HP outboard motor at a cost of $913.

In 1968 the annual Australian Natives’ Association (ANA) Regatta (now known as the Australia Day regatta) attracted 121 boats in competitive racing over 3 days. At the ANA Regatta 1969 there were 129 boats competing, also 70 yachts competed at the annual frostbite regatta (now known as the Anzac Day regatta).

At the annual general meeting held on the 26 June 1969 at the Council Club Hotel Wangaratta 43 members attended the meeting. The Commodore Ian Drummond in his report said that 39 yachts sailed for the season. The biggest class sailing with 14 yachts was the Mirror class and 7 Fireballs, in all 12 classes competed.

Time to move to a new location

The club had applied to the Council for a larger area of foreshore on which to construct a new clubhouse, the local council members thought it would be a better option to remove the YYC building from its location near the bridge to the end of River Road (its present day site).  This would leave the Yarrawonga foreshore adjacent to the bridge free of yachts for swimming and water-skiing, which was now very popular.

Yarrawonga Shire Council over the years has been very good to the YYC, to enable the YYC to move to the present site, which was a wet swamp area. On 6 July 1969 yacht club members inspected the proposed new site at the end of River Road, then on the 20 July 1969 a working bee to clear the site while the water was down to enable it to be tried out during the next sailing season for its suitability for sailing. It was decided unanimously as the favoured site for the Yarrawonga Yacht Club. In September 1969 a stockpile of filling and removal of logs from the water had already been undertaken by the shire council.

In June 1970 Yarrawonga Shore Council employees started to build a 400’ retaining wall, backfilled the area with rubble, then placed a dept

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