"Tradition and Excellence Since 1939"
In 1939, local sailors Togo Middows and George Griffin, were the prime movers in the formation of the Middle Harbour Cruising Yacht Association. Early that year, Togo invited a small group, including Griffin, to his home in Mosman, where the formation of a club was proposed.
The first official meeting was held in the Griffin Brothers' Boatshed at the Spit. Mr Dick Down, a life member and past Commodore of the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, was invited to be President and Togo Middows became Secretary. George Griffin, a first-class boat builder, remained an active member of Middle Harbour until his death and was the subject of many stories regarding his legendary strength and sailing abilities. Nicknamed, "Gorilla", Griffin built the first registered club yacht, "Flying Cloud", which was owned by Togo Middows. Throughout the war years the club still conducted races and after the war Middle Harbour Yacht Club, as it had now become known, started to go from strength to strength.
In 1944, the club introduced Saturday racing in two divisions; A and B class yachts. The fleet was mainly small craft, and a yacht had to have a fixed keel to be eligible to race. By 1947, there were eight yachts in A Division and ten yachts in B Division. There were fifteen other yachts which did not race so the total fleet numbered 33.
On November 27, 1954 the first clubhouse was opened by the Mayor of Mosman. At the time, members had little idea that by the 1980s the club would grow larger than all the combined clubs of the time. Nor could they have foreseen the explosion in popularity that their beloved sport of sailing was about to experience.
The first off-shore race conducted by MHYC was a modest affair. On August 21, 1954 ten yachts crossed the starting line for a race to Newport on Pittwater. Despite light winds, forcing some of the fleet to motor to Pittwater, the race was won by "Pinta" who threw up a spinnaker after rounding Barrenjoey Headland and crossed the finish line at 0335 hours on August 22.
"Pinta" had started a new era for MHYC and it was not long before club yachts were making headlines. 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 50s. 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 1960, "Siandra" won the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's first Blue Water Championship. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, MHYC yachts and their crews took many racing honours with boats such as "Carmen", "Cavalier", "Cadence", "Moonbird" and "Janzoon II" all prominent winners. At the club's 25th anniversary a new race from Sydney to Brisbane was created to be a feeder for the Brisbane-Gladstone Race. Again, MHYC yachts were winners, with "Cadence" and "Carmen" coming 1st and 2nd in the inaugural event.
In 1969, famous yacht designer and builder, Ron Swanson, on "Sundowner", made MHYC proud by taking out the double of line and handicap honours in the Brisbane-Gladstone Race. In 1972, the race fleet was hit by a cyclone and only six yachts finished with Peter Hopwood's, "Harmony" battling on through incredible 112 mph winds to win!
In 1965, MHYC placed eleven members in the first Australian Admiral's Cup Team and 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.
Since the 1970's, MHYC members have continued to be top performers in all facets of sailing, whether it be the classic ocean races or the activities of the Centreboard Division, which was created in 1963.
With the success and continued growth of the club a new clubhouse became essential. 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.
During the 1970s MHYC benefitting from improvements including a new clubhouse, saw membership climb to the 2,000 mark for the first time. In fact, in 1976 membership was 2,197 compared to less than 1,000 in 1971; an amazing growth period. The 70s also saw the creation of a Cruising Division for the adventurous non-racing sailors and the "Sailing Birds" group was established to develop training programs to teach people how to sail. This tradition of excellence in training and safety programs has continued to be a feature of MHYC to this day.
1976 saw the inaugural Sydney-Suva Yacht Race started by the Governor General of the Day, Sir John Kerr. It was also mentioned in the Rear Commodore's report around this time that MHYC was conducting races on 170 days per year for over 200 entrants surpassing any other yacht club in Australia.
The success of club members and their yachts during this period was legendary. It would be impossible here to list all the racing successes but in summary, MHYC representatives won practically everything on water including the Sydney to Mooloolaba Race, Brisbane to Gladstone Race, Dunhill Half Ton Cup, Ampol Tasman Trophy, South Solitary Island Race plus numerous State, National and World titles. 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.
MHYC entered the 80s and celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1989. During this decade MHYC conducted its first World championship for the J24 class in 1982 and another Worlds for the International 505 class in 1988. The Navigator's Association as formed in 1983 to become another strong unit of club activity and in 1986 Shores Restaurant opened under a lease arrangement. 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.
During the 80s Twilight Races, The 3 Ports Race and the Philips Night Race all emerged as exciting MHYC activities. Despite the economic difficulties in the community during the 1980s MHYC, through the tremendous efforts of club members and volunteers, remained a progressive and viable organisation. MHYC emerged from the 80s a stronger outfit with the largest membership and yacht register of any yacht club in Australia. The club had established an excellent racing record, a comprehensive yearly calendar of first-class events, an enthusiastic Cruising Division, a tremendous junior membership program and first-rate training and safety schemes.
The 1990's saw a long financial struggle for MHYC, and the Club continue's today as a result of the resolve and contributions of its members. The Club now has no external debt. More importantly the Club was able to finance and construct a new 76 berth floating marina, which now forms the centrepiece of not only the Club's sailing activities but also its revenue stream.
As a result of the Junior Sailing program held at MHYC during the 90's we developed a strong line up of Aussie Sailors. Culminating in the success of Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page in the 470 Class. Nathan and Malcolm won all before them, 4 World Championships, and finally Olympic Gold in Beijing in 2008. MHYC continues its junior racing activities to bring along more talented young Australian Sailors.
MHYC is the scene of year round sailing activity. The club boasts a comprehensive calendar of events that sees action on and off the water taking place virtually every day and evening of the year.
This broad spectrum of events and activities offers participants at all levels and in all aspects of our sport the opportunity to experience and enjoy the many rewards sailing has to offer cradled in a unique atmosphere of spirit and camaraderie.
The History Continue's