Hobsons Bay Yacht Club was established in March 1888.
HBYC opened with 60 members and grew to more than 130 members throughout the first year.
A Committee was formed of volunteers to lead and administer the new HBYC club and this volunteer tradition continues to this day.
The first recorded race was held in May 1888. More than 600 people viewed the race from Stevedore and Breakwater piers.
In October 1888, a land lease was granted to HBYC for this site here on Nelson Place. The Harbor Trust charged rental of £5 per annum.
The first clubhouse was built and officially opened in 1889.
The club had already grown to 200 members and was very active in sailing.
Most yachts racing at HBYC in the early days were 23- or 24-foot timber boats. The 24-foot centre-boarded yachts of HBYC were famous and included Athlete (Mr. F. Johnston), Sunbeam (Mr. Findley), Ormonde (Mr. A. Allan), Corio (Mr. Bleasby & Mr. Burke), Native (Mr. C. Deane), Volunteer (Mr. J. Fowler), Hyacinth (Captain W. McLean), Queenie (Mr. J. Clark) and Daisy (Mr. H. Jones).
Native was one of the first yachts to race at HBYC in 1888. Here she is in 1913.
1891 Ladies Skippers Race begins
At a time when other yacht clubs were opening their doors once a year to women, HBYC began its Ladies Skippers Race. The race continues to this day.
Queenie, a highly successful and much-loved HBYC yacht, sank off Werribee in April 1899 with all seven hands on board. Mr John Clark (Commodore, 1891-1892), the 60-year-old owner, died, along with four of his sons, John (aged 20), Ernest (aged 18), Charles (aged 16), and Norman (aged 14). Reg Johnston (aged 18) and Arthur Allan (aged 26), a labourer, also perished.
Under the Victorian Yachting Association, the yacht clubs of Port Phillip Bay first competed for the Association Pennant in 1896. This became the Perpetual Challenge Cup in 1907, and is still contested today as the Association Cup. Yachts were entered from Hobsons Bay Yacht Club, Port Melbourne Yacht Club, St Kilda Yacht Club, Geelong Yacht Club, and Brighton Yacht Club. Geelong's Beta won and HBYC’s Queenie came second. HBYC won the Association Cup for the first time in 1924 with Independence (Mr. Ernest Digby, Commodore 1915-1916).
HBYC established its own football team to provide activities during the off-season. The team competed against teams from Geelong Yacht Club, St Kilda Yacht Club, and Brighton Yacht Club. Matches were held into the 1920s.
Beginning in 1907, the Rudder Cup was initially awarded to the winner of the 198-mile Melbourne to Launceston race. The Rudder Cup is the oldest ocean race in Australia and the fifth oldest ocean race in the world. The Rudder Cup predated the Fastnet Race by 20 years and the Sydney to Hobart Race by 45 years. The first race winner was HBYC yacht Thistle (Mr. Edgar Newlands), a 14.7 m Yawl with a crew of 10 people including Edgar’s wife, his 19-year-old daughter, Minnie, and 7-year–old son, Felix. The Rudder Cup is currently awarded to the winner of the 195-mile Melbourne to Devonport race.
34 of the 97 registered members enlisted in the war. World events including war and economic crises continue to affect the growth of the club.
Under the guidance of Commodore Mytton (Commodore, 1933-1936), the clubhouse was extended to include a hardwood dance floor and an open fireplace at a cost of £600. This was financed by floating of a debenture issue for £300 at £5 from members and an overdraft at the bank for £300. HBYC was rated as the biggest and best equipped yard of any club in Port Phillip. The highly industrious members also negotiated to fill in the swampy foreshore and establish the yard..
52 HBYC members enlisted in the war.
Many HBYC yachts have contested the 630-mile race over the years. These include Four Winds, Four Winds II, Thermopylae, Sinnerman, Tevake II, Garisenda, Merlion and Blunderbuss.
A police raid on HBYC at 9.40pm on 27th September 1947 resulted in charges being laid for selling liquor without a licence. Three committee members were charged with selling liquor or aiding and abetting.
Each defendant was fined £25 plus costs.
Club defence testified that a subscription dance had been held at the HBYC on 27th September and food and drink were supplied to the people. The tickets sold were for a raffle for “Work of art” at 6 tickets for 6 Shillings and were not a token to obtain a drink and members were working in an honorary capacity. Drinks were supplied to a person with or without a ticket. HBYC was finally granted its liquor licence in 1968.
1925, 28 November, Sydney Referee Newspaper
The clubhouse was destroyed by a "spectacular fire" including all records, 45 yachts and 14 dinghies. Fire report time 4.08a.m. The damage was estimated at £15,000.
MFB occupied for over 2 hours. The fire made news around the country with articles in newspapers including the Brisbane Telegraph, The Mercury (Hobart), and The Mail (Adelaide).
Under the leadership of Commodore James Lane (Commodore, 1950-1952), Commodore Doug Campbell (Commodore, 1953-1956) and Commodore Henry Blake (Commodore, 1957-1959), the new clubhouse construction was undertaken between 1952 and 1957. The club was constructed mostly through the efforts of volunteers.
There are a number of distinguished yachts that have successfully represented HBYC for many years and that remain here to this day. These include Pastime II, Indi, Alwyn and Shamrock. Pastime II (H161, 30 square metre timber yacht) was designed and built by Stan McDonald in 1952 and has been proudly raced by the McDonald family for generations. Indi(38-foot ketch) was an ocean-going yacht designed by William Aitken and built and launched by Alex Finlay in 1957 at HBYC. Indi first travelled overseas when she went to New Zealand and back in 1961. In 2016, she was completely restored by new owners Graham Kent and his son Reuben.
Alwyn (H151, an Alfred Blore-designed A class yacht) was built in Hobart in 1923 and arrived at HBYC in the 1960s. She was recently restored by Peter Costolloe.
Shamrock (H140, 28-foot Francis Herreshoff ketch) was purchased by Dean Langford in 1976. Originally built in 1951 in Hobart, she was relocated to Sandringham Yacht Club, and then came to HBYC in 1976. Today, Rod Fuller owns and races her for HBYC.
HBYC proudly mentors and coaches junior members. HBYC has a strong fleet of Pacers and Cadets. HBYC worked together with the other clubs around Port Phillip Bay in 1960 to establish a fleet of International Cadets. The club had 6 International Cadets built.
HBYC has a thriving working yard which continues to this day. The slipway was constructed in the mid 1950s and 1960s and has had regular upgrades to maintain its effective use today.
The newly rebuilt clubhouse was opened with much celebration on 31stOctober, 1957. The opening ceremony was conducted by the Mayor of Williamstown, Cr. K. White, and 400 guests attended. 32 yachts participated in the opening day procession.
HBYC bestows a special honour on members who have by their personal activity and interest, contributed in some considerable measure to the advancement of yachting in general or of HBYC in particular. As at 2018, we have 4 living Honorary Life Members, including past Commodore Greg Finchett (Commodore, 1966), past Honorary Secretary Lyn Dawson, who was Honorary Secretary for 27 years, past Commodore John Allen (Commodore, 1994-1995), and Alice Varady, who was the HBYC Manager for 26 years. Past Honorary Life Members include individuals such as Walter Paton who was a HBYC member for over 60 years, and who spent 36 years in an official capacity for the club in roles including Rear Commodore, Vice Commodore, and Honorary Secretary. In addition, Walter was also the only person involved in building three different clubhouses over the years.
The Port Phillip Sea Pilots Race was first held in 1965. The 92-mile night race was named in honour of Captain Henry Press (1844-1920), the first Commodore of HBYC (Commodore, 1888-1891). The trophy was donated by the Port Phillip Sea Pilots Association. The race was a significant navigation challenge, well before the time of portable GPS. The skipper had to navigate successfully overnight using just a compass, paper charts and the stars. They completed a log book that showed the time, wind direction, condition of sea, and locations and was submitted to the Sailing Committee after the event. The winner of the first race was Selene(R. Moon) from Sandringham Yacht Club. The first HBYC yacht to win the race was Vitamin C (Bob Fell, Commodore, 1971-1973) in 1981
Over the years, the club has had a large fleet of Diamonds, 30-foot timber yachts. Before the hardstand and crane were constructed in 1984-1985, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Diamonds would be slipped down the slipway on their cradles and launched into the water. Early Diamonds included Corsair III (Graeme Kelly then Cliff Gibson), Voodoo, Imschallah, Bruce, and Pangalactic Gargleblaster. Diamonds continue to race at the club today (Osprey, Tim Feore).
Under the guidance of Commodore Bob Fell (Commodore, 1971-1973), an upstairs level was added to the clubhouse. The club continued to thrive with a membership of around 300 people
The 480-mile race from Melbourne to Hobart is one of Australia’s most challenging ocean races. Also known as the Westcoaster, the race was initiated by Stan Gibson from HBYC and Dr Joe Cannon from the Derwent Sailing Squadron in Hobart. Many HBYC yachts have competed in the M2H over the years. These include Knot a Clew, whose skipper Robert Gregson (Commodore, 1996-1997) has competed in 21 Melbourne to Hobarts, Tevake and Tevake II (Angus Fletcher, winner 1998, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013), De Ja Blue (John Neilson, winner 2002), Escapade (Robert Bradley), Samskara (David Stoopman), Turbulence (Eric Marsh), Slinky Malinky (Eric Marsh), Widgeon(John Bish), Sinnerman (Greg Finchett, Commodore, 1966), Blue Max(Jeff Otter, Commodore, 1992-1993), Ruffian (Jeff Otter), Rough Red(Jeff Otter), Akuna (Rolf Flessner) and Thermopylae (Graham Alexander, Commodore 1982-1983).
Wednesday night 'twilight racing' began in 1973 after daylight savings commenced permanently in 1971. Twilight racing at HBYC remains popular to this day, with sailing originally on Wednesday nights. Thursday night twilight racing commenced more recently in 2015.
Although HBYC has a long history of involving female sailors, Dr. Shirley Freeman (1924-2014) became HBYC's and Victoria’s first female keelboat owner in 1974. Shirley went on to win many races and series including the prestigious Port Phillip Sea Pilots Trophy in 1992, the Commodore's Cup, Vice Commodore's Cup, Nicholas Maina Trophy, Bernie Kavanagh Trophy, Lady Skippers' Race and many more. She also competed in the Melbourne to Devonport race five times.
The 1970s and 1980s saw a number of prominent yachts compete very successfully for HBYC. These included Vitamin C, (H2, Farr half tonner, Bob Fell) Thermopylae (Graham Alexander), Widgeon (H96, 42-foot Wombat class sloop, John Bish) and Sinnerman (H8, S&S 34, Greg Finchett). Vitamin Cwon the prestigious Association Cup in 1981 with Casablanca (J. Punton) and Great Scott (Barry Fitzgibbon), and again in 1982 with Casablancaand Sirocco (Barbara Van Meurs). She also won the highly sought after Australia Day Regatta in Geelong in 1979 and 1981. In 1981, she was the first HBYC to win the hotly contested Sea Pilots Trophy.
Among Widgeon's many achievements, she won the Australia Day Regatta in Geelong in 1979, and the Sea Pilots Trophy in 1985. She also competed in several ocean races including Sydney to Noumea in 1974 and Sydney to Suva in 1980 and 1982. Widgeonremains at the club today.
Sinnerman was one of the yachts involved in one of HBYC's wins at Geelong's Australia Day Regatta. Sinnerman remains at the club to this day and has logged over 60,000 miles, including numerous Sydney to Hobart races, Melbourne to Hobart races and Melbourne to Stanley races.
In 1980, under the guidance of Commodore Roger Smith (Commodore, 1967-1970; 1980-1981), the HBYC marina was extended to include a Northern Arm. This Northern Arm allowed the club to cater for an additional 60 boats. Marina pens at HBYC remain highly sought-after and there is always a waiting list.
HBYC has a large fleet of one-design S80 yachts (26-foot Swarbrick yacht). HBYC hosted the S80 Victorian Championships in 2012 and 2018. S80s include Outlaw (H7, David Judge, Commodore 2010-2011, and the Outlaw Gang), Skipjack (H398, Bill Feore), Moonraker (H700, Paul Neilson & Rod Langham), Esprit (H380, Craig Jackson & Miles Williamsz), Kasam (H221, Mark Sahhar), and Recycled Reputation (H10, Tim Campbell). Bill Feore's Skipjack won the 2017 and 2018 Victorian championships.
HBYC celebrated 100 years with a special Centenary Regatta and a reunion evening, as well as 250 yachts participating in a sail past. The cannons on The Strand were fired as part of a historical re-enactment.
The Endeavour 24 and Endeavour 26 have been very popular small keel boats in HBYC and the bay from the early 1980s. HBYC yachts have included Puff (Frank Rendell), Cathmarine (Mark Sheahan), Venus (Ian Robertson), Rocket Science (James Walshe and David Gaylor), and Onedin (Gary Cook). These yachts have won many club trophies and Frank Rendell won the Endeavour Victorian Titles with Puff. The magnificent Endeavour Association trophies are displayed in the HBYC trophy cabinet—certainly worth a look.
HBYC has a proud history of volunteer involvement and contribution. All Committee roles are voluntary and unpaid, including the Commodore. Our passionate volunteers run races, participate in committees, provide after-race dinners, and many other activities. Indeed, our first staff were paid in 1979.
Working Bees are an important annual event with more than 100 participants. The slipway and associated yard rails were constructed by volunteers in the 1960s.
Beginning with Thistle (Edgar Newlands) winning the inaugural Rudder Cup in 1907, HBYC has a proud history of ocean-racing. Many of our ocean-racing yachts are listed under each individual ocean race. Some of the most prominent yachts include Tevake and Tevake II, Turbo, De Ja Blue, Knot a Clew, Escapade, Widgeon, Samskara, and Sinnerman. Tevakeand Tevake II (Angus Fletcher) have won the 440-mile Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster race six times (Tevake, PHD, 1998; Tevake, AMS, 2000; Tevake II, AMS 2005, 2008; AMS & PHD, 2012; 2013). Tevake II won Line Honours in the 2010 Melbourne to Vanuatu, and has competed in three Sydney to Hobart races.
Turbo (H602, Adams 11.9, Bill Feore) won the 2008 Melbourne to Launceston race (198 nautical miles) for the prestigious Rudder Cup. Turboalso won the 2010 Melbourne to Vanuatu race (1,885 miles) and competed in the two-handed Melbourne to Osaka race in 2003 (5,000 miles).
Sinnerman (S&S 34, Greg Finchett) has logged over 60,000 miles, including numerous Sydney to Hobart races, Melbourne to Hobart races and Melbourne to Stanley races.
De Ja Blue’s (H2621, Northshore 33, John Neilson) many ocean-racing achievements include the prestigious Rudder Cup in 1999 for the Melbourne to Devonport ocean race and the Sovereign Series including the Melbourne to Hobart in 2002. As at 2017, she is the only yacht to have won both of these important regattas.
Escapade (H538, Farr 38 IMS, Robert Bradley) won the Melbourne to Osaka two-handed race in 2013.