Newly appointed Ballaarat Yacht Club Commodore Colin Littlejohn.

BALLAARAT Yacht Club has a new Commodore, Colin Littlejohn, who took on the role in August. Mr Littlejohn said one of his main priorities is to boost membership and further develop the club. “We had a lot of problems with the drought and losing members, so now we really are getting ourselves organised,” he said. “Because we didn’t have people sailing for ten years we’ve lost a lot of our youth and when you lose the youth you lose the parents, too, so you lose the volunteers around the club, so we need to rebuild that.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase Ballarat for what it is, the lake and the people that use it. Mr Littlejohn added that sailing was a great sport for people to become involved in and it’s suitable for all ages.

“It really is a family sport. There is something for everyone,” he said. “If they don’t want to sail there are plenty of opportunities for them to help around the club – we man the rescue boats, we teach people water skills, we teach safety and it’s just general leadership skills that we give the young kids – helping out around the club, running race days, we take them away to other events (Port Phillip Bay, Indented Heads). “There is a great camaraderie that can develop in the yacht club and it’s the social side if people don’t want to race they can come along and have a social sail.”

Mr Littlejohn added the bottom line is having fun and sailing safely. A sailor, Mr Littlejohn crews on the Jubilee yachts, and has crewed in the Victoria titles a few years ago.

“We won that title – I crewed with Charlie and Di Weatherly on a boat called Scorpion – and we sailed at Brighton I think it was three years ago,” he said.

“My two daughters sail, Cate and Emma, and they have just returned from overseas and just starting to get back into it. They were both heavily involved in running the rescue boats and support.” The sailing season starts on the first weekend in October and goes through to the end of June, with races held every Saturday on Lake Wendouree. “If people are interested in racing they can come along and try it out for a couple of times and see if they like it,” the Commodore said. “If they want to come down on a Thursday night we can introduce them to sailing.”

Races include pennant, which is different classes of boats, and sailors vie for pennants and shields; State titles and Australian titles.

Last weekend the yacht club held a working bee in readiness for this Saturday’s first competitions. Around 25 people helped out with the general tidy up – a great effort. Social sailing commences today at 5pm, with a sausage sizzle.