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140 years celebrations for the Ballarat Yachting Club

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Commodore Neville Bilney with fellow sailor John Cameron.

THE Ballarat Yacht Club was formed at a meeting held at Gill’s Lake View Hotel, on the 29th May, 1877. Mr. O.E. Edwards in the chair. The following officers were elected for the first year:—President, R. Le Poer (afterwards Judge) Trench; commodore, O.E. Edwards; captain, G. Hathorn; treasurer, A. Brown; secretary, A.T. Seal; judge, H.R. Caselli. The first regatta under the auspices of the club was held on 30th November, of that year, when prizes to the amount of £150 were given. The principal yachts in commission at that time were—Victoria, 5 tons; Vagabond, 3½ tons; Endeavor, 3 tons; Telegraph, 3 tons; Daphne, 5 tons; Kathleen, 3 tons; Leader, 6 tons; Flying Scud, 6 tons. On the 22nd October, 1878, A.T. Seal having resigned, W. Downie was elected honorary secretary, in which office he still (1887) remains. In 1881 E. Morey was elected commodore, which position he still (1887) retains—the officers at this last named period being—President, Hon. P. Russell; vice-presidents, B. Hepburn and T. Bath and the Hons. D. Ham and H. Gore; commodore, E. Morey; vice-commodore, W. Bailey; captain, T. Bailey; treasurer, J. Murray, as successor to T. Mann on that gentleman’s retirement, after being in office for eight years; secretary, W. Downie; judge, W. Gale (vice[29] H.R. Caselli, deceased); starter, W.P. Béchervaise, who has occupied the position nearly ever since the formation of the club; timekeeper, R.W. Holmes (vice Lieut.-Colonel Sleep). The yachts in commission (1887) are—Commodore E. Moray’s Ballarat, 6 tons; Vice-Commodore W. Bailey’s Viola, 7 tons; E. Millard’s Darlie Bay, 7 tons; Messrs. Gill and Mann’s Flying Scud, 6 tons; Alex. Monsbourgh’s Wendouree, 6 tons; T. Stoddart’s Pinafore, 4 tons; R. Orr’s Reporter, 4 tons; R. Taylor’s Victoria, 5 tons. There are besides those named several other yachts on Lake Wendouree, which are usually kept for cruising purposes, amongst them being the Kathleen, Daphne, Endeavor, Idea, Coquette, Miranda, together with a number of other sailing craft. The yachting season usually commences in September and closes about April, during which period, in addition to the annual regatta, club contests are held almost every Saturday for trophies given by a number of liberal patrons, on which occasions a steamboat is always provided by the club for members, ladies, and guests. During the series of years the club has been in existence, one or more of the Wendouree fleet have represented the club on Lake Colac, Corio Bay, and once on Hobson’s Bay, and on every occasion with success, even to the carrying off the first prize in each instance but one, thus establishing a name and fame unequalled by any yachts of their class in the colony. The members’ roll at the commencement of the season 1886-7 numbered 120, and this is expected to be largely increased as the season progresses. For this concise summary of the Wendouree sailing fleet the author is indebted to Mr. Downie, the honorary secretary of the Yacht Club, and it is almost exclusively given in his own words. The club will be celebrating this milestone on Saturday.