mounts bay sailing club
The Swan River has always been the heart and soul of Perth, central to the lives of the local Whadjuk Noongar for tens of thousands of years.
Originally known as Derbarl Yerrigan, the Swan River was later named for the bird that still cruises the river alongside our sailors today.
In the early days of Perth’s colonial history, the river itself became the major throughfare for personal and commercial transit. The river’s flat water and lively sea breezes proved irresistible and it wasn’t long before locals were testing their speed and skill at the helm in organised races. The first craft to race on the Swan River were day-to-day utility boats, put through their paces by enterprising skippers after hours.
While the sport of sailing has since evolved in Western Australia, Perth’s waters have remained uniquely democratised. Not reserved for Perth’s elite, locals from all walks of life can still be found out on the water on a balmy summer’s day.
It’s this rich history that Mounts Bay Sailing Club was born into, and it’s these values we still embody today.
The Founding Of Mounts Bay Sailing Club
Mounts Bay Sailing Club was founded more than a century ago, in 1897. As the third sailing club in Perth, Mounts Bay was launched to offer Perth locals an accessible and exciting competitive environment dedicated to dinghy sailing.
In a time before restricted class sailing, many Swan River dinghy racers found themselves outclassed by much larger craft in open races at the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Over 50 new members banded together to create a club ‘for the people’, holding regular racing days and allowing those masterful craft to show what they could truly accomplish.
Mounts Bay Sailing Club began sailing 14 ft., 18ft and 22ft plum stemmers, sharing both premises and programs with Perth Flying Squadron. It was Mounts Bay Sailing Club who sent the first Western Australian representative to the Commonwealth championships in Sydney Harbour, 1905. Mounts Bay skiff Aeolus was the first yacht from WA to bring home an Australian Championship just two years later.
While initially focused on the competitive side of sailing, the camaraderie between the founding members was unmistakable. Mounts Bay quickly blossomed as a Perth social club, with events ranging from casual sailing to ladies’ balls and concert cruises on the river itself.
The Mounts Bay Clubhouse: Then & Now
With Mounts Bay Sailing Club making waves on the Perth sailing and social scene, the organisation constructed its first dedicated clubhouse in 1939. During World War II, the clubhouse building was used by the United States Navy, forming part of the Catalina flying boat base at Matilda Bay.
The present-day clubhouse was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, using volunteer labour from passionate members and the local community. Mounts Bay Sailing Club has maintained its prime location on the Swan River ever since.
In 1974, the Club took a major step and constructed a 30 pen jetty, again using volunteer labour supported by Member loans and pen lease commitments. A cruising component was thus added to off-the-beach sailing. The pens were doubled in 1989, drawing on similar financing arrangements.
Mounts Bay Sailing Club has maintained its prime location on the Swan River ever since. Despite its prestigious waterfront address, Mounts Bay Sailing Club has remained firmly grounded in the sporting passions of everyday Western Australians, staying affordable and accessible to generations of Perth sailors (and young sailors-in-training).
Innovators On The Sailing Scene: Australia’s First Cherub Fleet
The year was 1961 and Basil Eugene Wright – a leading member of Mounts Bay Sailing Club – was searching for a new boat perfect for the club’s intermediate junior sailors. The search for a modern and innovative design for adolescents turned up the Cherub, a promising new class designed by our New Zealand neighbours. Mounts Bay soon became the home of the very first Australian Cherub fleet.
Basil Wright brought together six Mounts Bay sailors, all of whom had sons ready to move on from their childhood Pelicans. The group commissioned six Cherubs to be launched and raced in the 1960-1961 season. As the class grew in popularity across Australia, Basil Wright’s son Gordon took home the very first Cherub National Championships.
As a key motivation throughout the club’s history, our commitment to the learning and development of our young sailors put Mounts Bay Sailing Club at the forefront of the sport in Australia. You’ll find that very same passion alive and well in our club today.
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Evolution Of The Moth Class: How Mounts Bay Revolutionised International Sailing
The International Moth is one the most popular classes in the world today, with the boat’s streamlined design offering unprecedented thrills for sailors and spectators alike. As a dynamic open-design class, the technology used in today’s world-class Moths can be traced back to a few key innovations over the course of the 1900s.
Based on the original scow moths of the 1920s, wings were later added to the boat for greater speed and control. Former Western Australian Premier Richard Court was the first to use the aluminium and mesh wings on his 18ft skiff yachts, a modification that was quickly adopted worldwide. This development was another pivotal moment in the history of dinghy sailing, and it happened right here at Mounts Bay Sailing Club.
In the year 2000, local boat builder Brett Burvill revolutionised the class once again, adding hydrofoils to his moth ‘Windrush’ for greater control at racing speed. Brett’s innovation quickly took off and revolutionised dinghy sailing once again, a change that reverberated across international sailing.
In 2019, history came full circle when Mounts Bay Sailing Club was chosen to host the International Moth Class World Championships. Competitors from all over the world united for a heated battle of wills and waves on the very same waters where hydrofoils were first used to success.
The foiling technology first seen at this Mounts Bay event has gone on to transform world-class sailing events, including the Americas Cup and Olympic class racing. The lasting impact of this innovation is a testament to the timeless passion and dedication of our Mounts Bay sailors.
Take The First Step To Getting Out On The Water
The Present & Future Of Mounts Bay Sailing Club: Over 120 Years On The Water
Going from strength to strength, Mounts Bay Sailing Club was awarded WA’s Sailing Club of the Year award and placed as a finalist in the nation-wide competition. Mounts Bay was also celebrated in the 2018-19 Discover Sailing Centre Competition, with the largest percentage growth in the nation.
True to our core values of keeping sailing accessible, Mounts Bay remains one of Perth’s most affordable sailing clubs. The Club continues to be managed and run by volunteers, with the support of a small number of Office and Sailing Development staff. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the club, dedicated to creating a diverse, welcoming and encouraging environment for our sailors, their families and our social members.
Mounts Bay Sailing Club continues to host world-class regattas and championships, but one of our biggest passions is getting the next generation of young sailors out on the water – something we achieve through extensive school outreach programs and a focus on junior learning & development.
With an enduring sense of community, Mounts Bay’s legends and seasoned sailors passionately share their stories, ensuring future generations uphold our core values of inclusion and pure love of the sport.