by Pip Lodder
Sydney’s premier sailing and recreation centre is a buzz with excitement as Middle Harbour Yacht Club enters its 75th season. The club is planning another year of events, both on and off the water, with its Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking centre stage.
MHYC Clubhouse 1954 - MHYC Celebrates 75 Years
This Saturdayseventh September, MHYC will throw its doors open to a day packed with activities for the whole family. The beachfront will become centre stage – whether it’s building sandcastles, trying Opti sailing or enjoying the club’s food and beverage offering, the day is about having fun. The festivities will begin from 9:00am.
In the spirit of the Club’s 75th season, the annual sail past will see a convoy of boats dressed up for the occasion, in birthday glory, make their way down the pristine waters of Middle Harbour. A social race around the harbour for the Commodore’s Front Up Cup will follow while on-shore events get into full swing.
Everyone is invited. The club’s emphasis on aquatic and recreational activities as well as its sailing heritage, means there is something for everyone.
Over 75 years the Club has developed from an idea in 1939 by local sailors, Togo Middows and George Griffin, with Mr Dick Down, a Life Member and past Commodore of the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, as President.
The sailing activities of the Club grew through the 1940’s and 1950’s with a total fleet of 33 yachts by 1947. On November 27, 1954 the first clubhouse was opened by the Mayor of Mosman.
In 1956, 'Siandra' became the first MHYC yacht to enter the Sydney-Hobart Race. It was to become one of the most famous yachts of the 50’s. In 1958, 'Siandra' with Graham Newland as skipper and Ron Swanson, Frank Likely, Pod O'Donnell and Peter Mounsey, as crew won this blue-ribbon ocean event. A winning tradition had begun and the 1959 Sydney-Hobart Race saw seven MHYC yachts take part with four finishing in the top ten places.
In 1963 the Club obtained the site of the old Spit Baths and it was on this perfect vantage point that a marina complex and the present clubhouse were eventually built.
MHYC placed eleven members in 1965’s first Australian Admiral's Cup Team. Internationally the Club started to make its mark with many honours over forthcoming years going to names such as Ron Swanson, Doug Gilling, Hugh Treharne and Warren Johns.
During the 1970s, MHYC benefiting from improvements, including a new clubhouse, saw membership climb to the 2,000 mark for the first time. In 1976 membership was 2,197 compared to less than 1,000 in 1971. Through the 1980’s the Club would grow larger than all the combined clubs of the time.
The success of Club Members is extraordinary. In summary, MHYC representatives have won practically everything on water and in 1983, MHYC was the first club to welcome back the victorious Australia II crew, including Club Member Hugh Treharne, after they won the America's Cup.
The 1988 Australian Bicentenary was marked by a welcome of some of the Tall Ships to the Club and an Around Australia Yacht Race was staged to celebrate the occasion with club yachts 'Otella', 'Apple Endeavour' and trimaran, 'Verbatim' all placing in race divisions.
A key focus over the past two decades has been the Club’s Junior Sailing program, with now over 400 youth Members enrolled in various learn to sail and development programs.
The Club has developed a strong line up of Aussie Sailors culminating in the success of Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page in the 470 Class winning four World Championships, and finally Olympic Gold in Beijing in 2008.
MHYC is now home to the Australian Sailing Team, who in the 2012 London Olympics achieved
unprecedented success winning three gold and a silver medal in a campaign that saw the Aussies dominate the Olympic regatta and finish as first sailing nation.
MHYC has always been well supported by its Members. This financial support has allowed the Club to undertake further development of its 75 berth marina to over 100 available berths. The marina, supported by the extensive Club facilities makes for an idyllic location for any local boat owner.
Club Commodore John McCuaig commented, 'Our 75th year marks a significant milestone in the club’s history. We continue to invest in facilities and services for the benefit of our members and seek to expand our membership base over the coming years. Our achievements in sailing plays a key role in our heritage and our commitment to social and recreational activities creates an offering unrivaled in our area. Come and enjoy our harbour side venue – you won’t want to leave!'
The Club is inviting all current and new members to become part of its historic 75th year. Whether in sailing, social or recreation, the doors are open and the stage is set for an exciting future at Middle Harbour Yacht Club.
For further details, contact MHYC on 02 9969 1244, or email@example.com. Visit the website
MHYC Opening Day – Saturday seventh September, 2013, MHYC, The Spit, Mosman from 9am.