History of the Mersey Yacht Club

Although authentic records covering the early period are hard to come by, extensive research into yachting on the Mersey was done by the late Mr George D. Johnson in 1970.

His investigations revealed that the first regatta held at Sayer's Point, where the original Club House stood, was in 1877. It was not certain whether a club-house was actually built at that time, but it is certain regattas and other yachting events were held then.

A Yacht or Aquatic Club was inaugurated in September, 1893. Mr William Buck was elected to the chair of foundation Commodore in that year.

The inaugural meeting of the Mersey Yacht Club, as we know it today, was held at Curwen's Salon in Rooke Street, Devonport on 12th November 1923. From that meeting the following Officers were elected:-

  • Patron: J. H. Henry
  • Vice-Patrons: H. Brown, W. Buck, A. Marshall, W. B. Cocker, W. G. Curwen, Major Black, G. W. Murray, Captain Ireland.
  • President: R. Masterman
  • Vice-Presidents: Captain Calvert and G. Ritchie
  • Committee: W. Buck, C. Wood, H. Lord, D. Curwen, W.B. Cocker, J. H. Smith
  • Commodore: B. Orme
  • Vice-Commodore: Dr. J. F. M. Payne
  • Honorary Secretary/Treasurer: A. Ramsay

The first Opening Day was held on 1st December 1923 and sailing was conducted on Saturday afternoons. Membership grew to fifty in the first year and an application for lease of the area known as Sayer's Point was made as a site for a Club House.

The first Club House was built between 1935 and 1938 with extensions in 1950. In the early 1970's the planned extensions to the East Devonport Port by the Devonport Marine Board required the relocation of the Club to its present site at Anchor Drive. The present spacious Club House on its prominent waterfront position with its spacious grounds was completed in 1972.

In the past years the sport of yachting has always been popular in Devonport, and sailing craft have advance greatly with many new designs and equipment.

Commodore Morrie Cropp wrote in the Jubilee Anniversary Program in 1972:

"Half a century is a goodly length of time. For the Mersey Yacht Club it embraces a span from the first early sailing on the Mersey River in an assortment of craft manned by gentlemen attired in gear resembling something more akin to an English cricket green than modern dinghies and ocean going yachts. We have progressed through the heavy-weight Sharpies era until today we find an assortment of light, alloy rigged and synthetic canvassed classes like Moths, Lightweight Sharpies, Cherubs and Manly Juniors crewed by agile adroit young men. We also have a small fleet of blue water keelboats, which will no doubt grow as the next half century moves swiftly on"

In the intervening 40 years since these comments were written the Club has progressed through various dinghy classes, Fireballs, Cherubs, Lasers to the modern carbon rigged and mylar sails of the B14 and performance sports boats. The keelboat fleet has developed over the years into ocean racing with the Club represented in the Sydney-Hobart, Southern Cross Cup, West Coaster and the Melbourne Devonport. The highlight being the efforts of Bob Cumming and crew on Screw Loose in taking overall handicap honours in the 1979 Sydney to Hobart race.

The Club has also hosted numerous State and National Titles such as the Laser Nationals in 1977, Diamond Nationals in 1985 and the Mirror Nationals in 1987.

The Mersey Yacht Club currently caters for all levels of sailing from Juniors, beginning Seniors, Cruisers and social sailing, to competitive club and inter club racing. Regular racing is scheduled on Saturdays during the Summer sailing season between October and April each year. A Winter Series is also run on a fortnightly basis from May to July each year.

The Mersey Yacht Club is also utilised for functions, weddings, meetings, conferences etc and is a perfect vantage point for observing activities on the Mersey River, including the arrival and departure of the Spirit of Tasmania.