Port Lincoln Yacht Club

A Brief History by Philip Roe

A Brief History by Philip Roe


A Brief History of Local Sailing

A brief History of sailing in Port Lincoln and the Port Lincoln Yacht Club complied by club Historian Philip Roe, Past Rear Commodore, Club Moth Champion and Honorary Life Member, President of the Axel Stenross Maritime Museum, (Custodians of the Port Lincoln Yacht Club history). The following information is "as told" to him by Jack Randall, Fred Ives, Alwyn Scruby, Brian Verco, Chook Wiseman, Darcy Harvey, Mrs Morton, Dean Palm and many others.

Philip apologises for any inaccuracies and will correct any mistakes if advised. This history is being progressively developed - more information is required. CD's & photos etc can be obtained from the Axel Stenross Maritime Museum. Updated 2001.

Since the first Europeans ventured to the waters of Port Lincoln and Spencer’s Gulf Port Lincoln the sea and sailing has always been part of Port Lincoln’s way of life.
Local aboriginal tribes did not have boats or venture on to the water. They fished from the shores.
In 1802 Captain Matthew Flinders in the Investigator was first to discover and chart the waters, followed by the French explorer Nicolas Baudin. They had found Boston Bay (Baudin named the bay, Champagne Bay.) It is regarded as the third largest natural harbour in the world with a volume of water estimated at five times that of Sydney harbour. A magnificent and safe harbour for boats with lots of nearby islands to cruise and the exciting huge seas of the southern ocean to the south on the way from Lincoln to the rugged north coast of Kangaroo Island.

Flinders tragedy. Losing a number of his crew in the area is still very real today with the naming of many islands Thistle, Taylors, Williams, etc after his lost crew and his home town area and Memory Cove. Now  a national park where the event happened while the crew were searching for water.

The first European  settlers arrived in the 80 ft  "Abeoana" with Captain Hawson  and his family and others on March the 19th 1839. Landing at Happy Valley  near the present  location of the now Axel Stenross’s Maritime Museum (Axel became a foundation member of the PLYC in 1931 as will be recorded later.)  There were no roads, cars or planes those days. The only easy way get to Lincoln was by boat or walk.

The area soon became a popular commercial oyster & scale fishing location and is still the case today. Early fishermen formed the basis of competitive sailing. Yachting began in Lincoln in the  1800’s. With regattas recorded here in the “Adelaide Register” as early as February 29th 1840
In the late 1800’s the Port Lincoln Sailing Club was formed. It's pennant was blue and white. The Town also had a separate Regatta committee to run beach events rowing regattas, sailing and other early settler activities.

The Adelaide Observer reported  on Jan 17th 1885 that a settling night was held at the Pier hotel when prizes of the recent  Regatta were awarded. Mr Bill Haigh won a cup and eleven guineas in the Albatross as first prize in the main sailing event, and Mr Tom Tait in the "Canowie" won the second prize of eight guineas. "Canowie" (pictured below) of around 60 feet won the regatta previously in 1883.


There are more details in the book “ Yachting in Australia” written by frequent visitor to Port Lincoln Sir Henry Bundy QC in 1888. Former SA Royal Yacht Squadron Commodore, and friend of the famous Randall yachting family of Port Adelaide & Lincoln.

Sir Henry Bundy also wrote a yachting book (“A Fashionable Holiday”) around 1899, featuring Port Lincoln and Kangaroo island and many local people.

Around 1915 The ANZAC and Galipolli time the Second World War saw many of our sailors leave for active service overseas.
The Port Lincoln sailing club never recovered from this.  


The Port Lincoln Sailing Regatta Club

In 1919 struggling for members the sailing club combined with the Regatta Club to try and keep sailing alive. Called "The Port Lincoln Sailing and Regatta Club".

Still struggling, the club was disbanded in the 1920’s and there was no sailing club in Port Lincoln.
Population of the town then would have been around 2,500 people.

Sailing stalwart Jack Randall of the Randall sailing family was a young member of the Port Lincoln Sailing club. He went on to become a foundation member of the new PLYC, a champion sailor and seaman held most club positions, including commodore many times, built yachts and was always prepared to work on committees until he died. He with his wife Betty helped link the past with the future and set many traditions which guided the club in the right direction until the late 1990’s. One of the many reasons the Port Lincoln Club has been so successful in the past.


Pictured above:- The "Nautilus"
On 9th October 1931 as things settled down after the war a meeting of those interested in forming a sailing club was called in the Civic War Memorial supper room to consider forming a new sailing club. The Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron was represented by Frank Verco in his 50ft yacht the Nautilus. It often cruised the waters and participated in the regattas. (Later to be involved with his son, Brian in  developing The Outer Harbour to Port Lincoln Yacht race now the  Adelaide Lincoln Race.)           



Club officially formed 

The Foundation Committee - 1931
Back row L-R:- F.W. Ives, G.W. Hurrell, K. Midvick (Snow), J. T. Mortlock (Patron), A.A. Stenross, M.G. Henderson.
Front L-R:- Jim Eglington, Bob Medwell (Commodore), Allan Payze (Secretary), Byron Johnson.

On October 23 1931 the club was officially formed.  First Committee was Commodore F. Medwell. Secretary, Alan Payze, Vice Commodore Jack Green. Rear Commodore Axel Stenross, Assistant Secretary, Byron Johnson. Treasurer, Jim Eglington and a committee of six.

The new club  was named  "The Port Lincoln Yachting Club" to cater for vessels now using motors as well as sail and was  supported by  members of the old sailing club.

The clubs well known and wise object no 1 was born and became part of the Club Rules. "To Foster a love of the sea, the education of members into the art of sailing, and the promotion of the best interests of yachting."

The first race was held on Nov 5th 1931. It was an all boats event  3 times around over eight miles. Fishing boats and 14 footers were sailed in the club then Mrs Follett offered her Port Lincoln Hotel back room as the clubrooms and the members accepted the offer at a general meeting. (50 years later past Commodores, life members and their families toasted the foundation members at a special dinner held in the back dining room of the Port Lincoln Hotel.)  

In 1937 the first  junior sailing dinghy was introduced by Fred Ives and his team called the "Lincoln" class. The club was beginning to slow down as boat owners moved away, usually to Adelaide .

The second, world war was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the club went into recess just after 1940.

The Rebirth of the Port Lincoln Yacht Club

In 1948 a young Roy King from Glenelg Sailing Club waltzed into Port Lincoln with his wife to run the Flinders Guest House in Liverpool Street. He asked why there was no sailing in the wonderful Boston Bay. He was sent to meet foundation member, sailing legend and local photographer Jack Randall . He was told he would be in his other office. (The front bar of the Lincoln Hotel.)

A public meeting on December the 8th decided to reopen the club  and put it back in business. With help from others including, Norm Trudgeon, Fred Ives, Alan Payze, Byron Johnson, Perc Puckridge, George Mayne, Brian Verco they reformed the yacht club which was in recess. There was still no Clubhouse then.  

The new 12 Square Metre centreboarder later to be known as the "Heavy weight sharpie" was being introduced around Australia and Roy King and Jack and others encouraged its introduction here amidst some opposition from some members who had previously sailed 14 footers here before the war.

It is believed that the first Sharpie in Lincoln was the "Hielan Lassie" built around the end of the 1930’s by Port Lincoln Yacht Club member and well known boat builder Jack McFarlane.  Jack and his father owned the slip before Axel Stenross and lived there in a tent while the slip was being built. Well known in Port Lincoln yacht club circles Jack's boats included: "Thistle"; "Celtic"; "Highlander"; the "Queen of Scotts" and the "Hielan Lassie".

A young Alwyn Scruby also now a well-known yacht club member helped build this new yacht in the boat shed just behind where the slip winch is today. It was built with strips of spruce approximately 6 inches wide because they didn’t have plywood at that time. Alwyn helped build the mast which was also spruce.

The plans had come from Germany and were a bit of a problem because they were in metric measurements and Australia’s measurements were in feet and inches. Jack had a major problem purchasing a metric ruler.  

The boat was called the “Hielan Lassie” and people laughed at it, until its first race at the Port Lincoln Yacht club picnic at Dutton Bay where it cleaned up every boat in sight and continued to from then on in good sharpie tradition winning many trophies including the 1937/38 Championship.  

Pictured below:- "Westwind"






                                                                                                                                        Pictured left:- "Pavana"


The beginning of the local Sharpie fleet was born and the beginning of modern boats & rigs began to emerge with their many changes over the decades.  

The Reformed Port Lincoln Yacht Club’s first organised racing began on new years day 1949. The smaller boats included "West Wind" (Roy King), "Miss Lincoln" (Norm Trudgeon) and "Scamp" (Jack Randall).

Larger craft were "Fifenella" ( Brian Verco), "Jean" (Charlie Lebrun) and the fishing cutters "Nancy" (L.Tarry.Barry), "Safari" ("Turk" Sawyer) & "Ellen" ( C. Barwick).

By March 1949 the first Sharpies raced against each other. They were "Vandal" (Roy King), "Blue Star" (Jack Randall). By November 1949 two more sharpies had arrived. "Southerly Buster" (Mel Roberts & "Ajax" (Norm Trudgeon). An all boats race attracted 10 starters.

The First Adelaide to Lincoln Race - Outer Harbour to Port Lincoln

A red letter day was February 4th 1950 when the first Adelaide – Lincoln race saw seven starters. It was won by "Nerida" (Colin Hazelgrove).  

Trophies were the Verco trophy for first on Handicap. The Rundles Pier Hotel Trophy for fastest time and The Axel Stenross Trophy for the Sunday PM  race after presentation & BBQ.  

In the following week a visit of Adelaide sharpies saw a fleet of ten racing. No records exist of boats & races from mid-1950’s until in the early 1957 season. It is feared they were lost in a clean-up. By then we had a fleet of 12 sharpies which grew to 19 by 1958.  

In the early 50’s Speed Boats were a very important class in the Port Lincoln Yacht club and through their major efforts of fund raising in the 50’s and the donation of the land by Mr & Mrs Harold Charlton saw the new club house built & used for the first time for the 1953/54 Annual General Meeting.  

The 1957 ocean race saw 8 starters with "Tahuna",  RSAYS (Henry Wilkins) fastest & "Jean" PLYC (Charlie Lebrun) Handicap winner. The first Port Lincoln boat to win.                                                                                                                        

The 505 :  The new Senior Centreboard class

The newly adopted 505 centreboard class raced for the first time in November 1958. Boats were "Polly" (Ron Barker), "Tuffy" (Frank Harby) and "Pacific Gull" (Ross Edwards). There was plenty of class rivalry for this new class from the sharpies.

The 1959 Adelaide - Lincoln race saw 9 starters but only four boats battled a westerly gale to finish.
The 505 class grew to 5 boats by November 1959. One being "Cairo" (John Hood). Geoff & Trevor Schramm also had some great 505 races sailing very competitively against world famous skipper Paul Elvstrom in Adelaide. The Henderson Boys joined the 505 fleet.


 Lincoln 505 Sailors all set to travel to the Nationals 

Left to right: Bruce Hood, Max Bennie, Ron Barker, Ross Edwards, Dennis Davison & John Hood


The Introduction of the Lightweight Sharpie - The end of the heavyweight

During the preceding winter the lightweight sharpie  was introduced. Some owners opted to build new hulls and keep the old rig. This kept the combined fleet stable until the sharpie association re designed the rig.

This saw the end of the heavyweight Sharpie and by the start of the 1960/61 season only four raced. The replacement by LW’s slowed because of the cost of the new rig. At the same time only 9 light weights were racing 505’s had also reached their peak with 5 boats. Another factor was that several older skippers found both classes too exacting to sail. Some gave up sailing others went to ocean going A class keel boats setting a build your own boat craze. This eventually put the club back together with an active "A" class fleet. Meanwhile the trainer fleet was re-organised and from March 1961 "Byron J" (Paul Johnson), "Seagull" ( Graham Johnson), "Idler"(Barry Brady) & "Swift" (Geoff "Megga" Bascombe) were regular starters.  

At this point of time keel boat racing was non-existent with other classes down in numbers the crest of the wave had broken. At the end of the 1961 sailing season the club championship saw winners in the classes being as follows. Light weight sharpies Caprice (John & Rob Hopping) International 505 "Cairo" (John Hood). Class numbers had dropped to six Light weight Sharpies & 5  x 505’s.  

The 1961  Adelaide Lincoln race attracted 11 Starters. "Pavana", George Mayne PLYC was line honours winner.  Some of the many people involved during this time were. L "Chook" Wiseman, Spog Curnow, Darc Harvey, Rolly Johnson, Reg Barker, John Swann, Pep & Dion Manthorpe, Brian Anthony, Peter Warrington, Byron Johnson (Long serving handicapper) Reg Aveling, Charlie Lebrun, Stan Morgan, Roy Carlson, Brian & Phil Hurrell, Bill Offler, Bruce Smallacombe, Norm Wicks, John Justin, Phil Bascombe, Brian Bain, Ron Barker, Snoss Wiseman, Dennis Davison, Max Bennie, Michael & Robert Egerton, John & Robert Hopping, Max Simms, Alf Goodwin, M. Fallon, Noel Carr, Dean Cook, Bill Robb, P McCuspiem, John & G Williams, Edna Aveling, Enid Brooks, George Richardson, Sid Watherston, E Hocking ,Norm Trudgeon & Neil Trudgeon, David Bassham & others all ready mentioned and so the list goes on.  

Jack Randall having joined the ranks of build your own yacht members and realising the  505’s & lightweight were nor for him (Jack was a large man). Spent the next two years building  a 23 foot Rugged  class keel boat ”Alloway”. His efforts inspired Wilson Hissey and Brian Bain to build the 36 ft "Rufus L" and "Nyanda L" and Geoff Ives soon followed with "Rhythm", a sister ship. About this time  SA tractor rep Gavin Weston showed off the single handed centreboard class moth to members. Meanwhile John Swann & Dion Manthorpe had purchased "Shadow", Stan Morgan "Pelorus" and Pep Manthorpe with "Josephine" was getting ready to move on. So A class ocean racing was on its feet again.  

The club's lowest point in recent times.  

Around 1963/64 centre board racing at the club was at its lowest since reforming with only a few sharpies racing including "Rival" David Bassham, "Seasprite" John Easton, "Zero" John Hopping, "Eires" Rob Hopping and "Caprice"  Phil Roe. Club membership had dropped from a high of around 400 down to around 50. Finances were not going well.  

Sharpie legend John Lewis of "Kurura" fame was now sailing at Tumby. Their club was now larger than Lincoln and had a top sharpie fleet with Noel Carr and the Fauser  & Rogers boys among there competitors.  

A special meeting was called with the seal holder Past Commodore Frank Blacker present. Approximately seven committee members attended the meeting at the Tasman Hotel . The Tasman Hotel manager Mr Retallick was the PLYC house officer. Those present included David Bassham, Dean Cook , Robert Hopping and Phil Roe.  

Discussion took place regarding whether the club could survive or whether it should be closed or put in recess again.  

It was agreed to move forward and rejuvenate the club. Many changes happened from here on. The new generation moved in with the support of the older members.  

A successful new social marketing strategy to foster the love of the sea was implemented involving the whole town participating including football clubs and  horse racing club, etc.

There were many top juniors coming up like Geoff & Trevor Schramm, Ross Haldane, Daryl Freers, Dean palm etc. They were sailing rainbows. (This class is  now succeeded by the 125’s). People running the club that come to mind were  Frank  Schramm, Gilf Ettridge, Darc & Verley Harvey, Hink Harvey, The Mortons, Wilson Hissey, Marg Delderfield, Josie Waters,  John Watson, Garth Burgoyne, Barry Grimm, Howard McCallum, Roger Trevor, Don Brasher, Jack Offler, Brian & Margaret Bain, Rolly & Laurel  Johnson, Jack & Betty Randall Davis Bassham, Rob & John Hopping, John Easton, Andrew Renwick, Barry Roach, Geoff Ives, David Bassham, Peter Whait, Josie Waters, Lorraine Dawe, Ellen Turner and Max Bennie  to name a few.

Mr Retallick was transferred as manager of the Tasman and Phil Roe gained a lot of experience  as he automatically became  the House Officer & social director  for some time at around the age of 22 with a strong house committee behind him. David Basham around  year older soon became the club Commodore.  

On the sailing front the club had had a restrictive policy of only allowing Holdfast trainers, Rainbows, Sharpies and A class to race.

The Moth Class - Senior Centreboard Class

The sharpies at the time were finished Gunner  Boeck a great new motivator  had moved in to work for Blacker Motors from Cleve and was sailing moths at Arno bay He helped with other members to pressure negative opposition and  convinced the members  through the sailing committee to change the rules so that three boats constituted a class and could start in their own class race and five would attract trophies. 


Right:- Miss Australia attends Hawaiian Cabaret in PLYC boat shed. 

L-R:- Elizabeth Ettridge (first PLYC woman sailor to compete in National sailing), Miss PLYC Tunarama entrant Ann Renwick (Hamlyn) who went on to become Miss Tunarama with Miss Australia.



 They also changed the racing championship points  and handicap system allowing the new class of moths & herons to be introduced and grow.  

It worked and Gunner introduced the sharpie sailors and others to moths and some great years of exciting sailing. Members purchased around 19 in the first year for some great class and state racing. Liz Ettridge a champion sailor was the first female to represent the club at nationals. She sailed the moth "Elouise". The moth class gave Lincoln members a close connection to Arno bay and Largs bay sailing club. Early moth sailors included John Hopping in "Cirrius", Robert Hopping in "Snoopy", Dennis Davison in "Redwings", John Easton in "Velero" ,Phil Roe in "Chaos" & later "Chaotic", Robert Walker in "Tara", Graham Brett in "Ciaou", Tim Nelligan, Ian Phillips, Peter Aird, Scott Sawley and many others went through the class.

The Heron Class - A senior Centreboard class

A Major event  and probably the most significant for the club at the same time as the moths arrived  was the introduction of the heron. It became a major class. Gill & Fran Robertson "Cresta" with Harbour Master Ian Jeffries "Miraj" introduced a heron building program over at John Turners government slip way. While Ken Ladyman & Kieran Kelly had both had herons earlier for a few years this new fleet of over 40 became the largest in the state and began some great class racing introducing many new members to sailing moving into ocean and other class boats over time. This includes Puffa Powell, Ron Giadresco, Noel Welfare, Alan Smith, Reg Kemp, Stephen  Kemp John Turner in "Karamba", Philip Turner in "Conquest",  George Wiseman in "Mawaka", Michael Arbon in "Star Gaza" & "Long Legs". Craig McPhee who went on to be an Australian Champion in "Marama",  George Mayhew in "Mah-na-mah-na" &  "Adrea Pacifica", Wayne McNair  in "Ocker" (Wayne was a very active committee man inc club secretary for a number of years. Chris Nicholls, Doug Watson, Alf Goodwin in "Runaway", Greg Danzic in "Mantis" and many others. These sailors  gained experience from these classes  in the best of fleet class racing and went on to greater events. Ian Abbott in "Tsunami", an experienced heron sailor came to teach at the high  school from Adelaide and later was a great supporter of the high school sailing team.  

With the moths and herons introduced the new system was in.  It was normal to see 90 to a 100 boats sailing on the bay on a weekend. The courses were kept in the north shore area so family could participate by easily watching the races from the Lincoln Highway (North Road). Keeping the town involved. Most would come back to the club after the race finished. The quarterly social parties & floor shows in the boat shed downstairs are now a legend among the oldies. There is nothing like them these days.

The Port Lincoln Yacht club never looked back from this time. Over the years new classes have been added and members have enjoyed the club motto of "Fostering the love of the sea".  Like most things there are highs and lows. It is great to see the Sharpies are back in strength fifty years on. They have survived all the constant changes and are as always regarded as the Australian thoroughbred for excitement and thrilling sailing competition if you are young & fit enough. The Port Lincoln Yacht Club is proud of its Sharpie fleet and all classes. Past & Present.

The Junior Class - Holdfast Trainers

In the 1950’s at Glenelg and other Adelaide clubs members were looking for a good junior class. They liked the eastern states Sabot but it didn’t teach jib handling and only had one crew. So the Adelaide team developed the Holdfast trainer from the sabot . They added a jib and a bowsprit. Over the years it has developed into the sophisticated and arguably best training craft in Australia adding waterproof bulkheads and fibreglass and alloy spars. Port Lincoln with other SA  clubs adopted them as the  junior class. 

Some outstanding sailors have come through the Holdies Including  Mick in "Candy Dancer" & Neil Harvey in "Kurura Junior", Paul Johnson, Don Henson "Blue Wren", Liz Ettridge " Swift" ,Geoff "Megga" Bascombe "Seagull", Graham Johnson ,Barbara Tucker, Barry Brady "Idler", Diedre Turvey,"Thunderbird" sailed by David Lewis, "Trangie" Andy Blessing, "Flite" A Hardcourt, "Thunderbird 3" G.Swann & Steele Seeman & Paul Watson, "Avalon" Nathan Hood, Craig Matena,Troy Polden & C.Osman, "Black Widow" Sam Bassham, "Apollo" Tony Kay, "Circus" the fibreglass raffle boat, (Michael Kammerman, "Johnathon Livingston" Travis Henson & later Josh Roach & D Roach, "Cockatoo" Steven Kammerman, "Short Circuit" Shaun Woods, "Scraps" &" Offcut" Alex Haldane. Others included "Ghost buster",  "Another Chaos"  Anthony Roe, "Crazee" Stuart Roe, "Bubbles" Sally Abbott, "Candy Dancer"  Sam Abbott , "Microwave" Paul Sheppherd. Other sailors included the Wahpole kids, Nicky & Rachel Bice and many others.

The club developed sponsored club boats for those wishing to learn but not sure and with Holdie Live ins (weekend introductions to sailing where the parent came and learned too) and mother duck. A person responsible for helping coordinate all the new comers and parents. (Denise Manuel was the first Mother Duck)  Lincoln for a number of years had the largest fleet in SA over 40  sailing producing some of Australia’s top sailors.  

The class has had great support from families and grandparents and sponsor

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