The Swan Bay Boat Club was formed in the early 1900s although there are earlier reports in the Queenscliff “Sentinel" of races and Regattas being held off the piers. Probably races would be between the early fishermen in their fishing boats.
On 14th March 1891 Queenscliff boats sailed to Belfast (Port Fairy) to attend a Regatta, suggesting competitive sailing had been a long time tradition in Queenscliff.
Prior to 1913 the Club sailed from a site on the foreshore of Swan Bay at the end of Stokes St, below the Primary School. There were generally about 40 yachts moored to stakes and concrete blocks from below the school to near the present site of the Yacht Club.
In 1913 the Club moved to the area that is the site of the present Queenscliff Point Lonsdale Yacht Club. A boatshed and pier were built. Both were demolished during the 1930s. In 1913 there was 6ft of water at the end of the pier.
Various types of boats were built or designed and built by their owners and local boat builders. Class and design names were not in vogue in those days. Our earliest photo is from 1912 of Jack Golightly Snr, then 12 years old in "Swan" a double ended, flat bottomed punt that he had built. This type of yacht was ideal for Swan Bay, in particular for races across the Bay to McDonalds Jetty.
From the 1920s through the 1930s, possibly stemming from the depression and World War 2, there was a waning of interest in Club yachting, although boat building and fishing remained two of the town's activities.
At Easter 1947 a decision was made to revive the yacht club. The boat shed was built, a pier was constructed and the Club Rooms were built between 1947 and 1949.
The Club was sailing a 15 ft yacht designed and built by Jack Golightly, called the Swan Class a fully decked boat, similar to the Jubilee Class. Four Swan Class boat were on the Club register.
The Club also fostered the Rudder "Pup" around which to build up the junior membership of the Club. The Pup was a 12ft plywood, hard chined dinghy, and about 14 Pups were built by the owners under Club direction.
The Club continued to grow through the 1950s using Yvonne Catamarans and by 1962, there were nine members sailing these. In 1958, the then Queenscliff High School made yachting a school sport with the "Sabot" as a training yacht supported by members of the Swan Bay Boat Club. "Sabot" competition within the Club then extended through the 1960s.
Quickcat and “C” Class Catamarans appeared and were raced by members. Some members represented Australia with “Quest” in the "Little Americas Cup Challenge" against England.
By 1968, the trailer sailer had arrived and in 1972 the Club name was officially changed to the Queenscliff - Lonsdale Yacht Club.
Because of problems with the perceived shallowing of Swan Bay, the club experimented with various locales for club racing; there were seasons of sailing in Lonsdale Bight, and other times when racing was held alternately in the north end of Swan Bay and to the north of "The Creek" in front of the Cruising Yacht Club. This venue is now Sand Island.
In 1979-1980 Swan Bay was finally abandoned, and club events were sailed in Port Phillip Bay with dinghies launching to the north of the town pier.
Port Phillip Bay's strong tidal flows and occasional surf in the launching area proved too demanding for dinghies; by the mid eighties the club's active fleet consisted almost entirely of trailer sailers and small keelboats.
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