For the most up-to-date information regarding current COVID-19 restrictions please visit;

Dismiss alert

Robe Yacht Club

Robe's boating history

Sailing regattas were held in Robe's Guichen Bay as early as March 1859, when a large crowd gathered on the foreshore to watch yacht and rowing races, before adjourning to the Robe Hotel for a dinner and ball. However, the regattas were only intermittent until the late 1920s, when the town's progress association started organising them as an attraction for summer visitors, in the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

A new boat club was formed around this time to help organise the events, and, in particular, to encourage the thrilling new sport of motorboat racing. Grazier Andrew Robson, who owned Lakeside house, was voted Commodore; publican Hurtle Fax of the Robe Hotel, Vice Commodore; and postmaster Reg Jarvis, Secretary.

Among the regatta's regular competitors was Keith Bowman from Poltalloch station at Narrung who brought his boat, the Dora Bassett, down to Robe every Christmas holidays. He often competed against Hurtle Fax's boat, the Evelyn Mavis, as well as a couple of fishing boats. Competitors would also race dinghies with oars, and then attach outboard motors and race them as speed boats.

Among the keenest competitors was Reg Jarvis, who built his own racing boats, the Margy J, Playmate and Johnnie Walker (the fastest). Other men who raced in those days included Jack and Bert Hateley, Richard S Cullen, Perce Reid, Jack Bennett, Tom Brown and Hugh Davis. The course was marked out north-west from the old jetty (which ran out near where the Chinese monument now stands) across to where Sea-Vu Caravan Park is today, and back to the jetty.

Hooper's Beach, east of the caravan park, became the focal point for the sailing scene in 1954, when the Robe Yacht Club was granted a 21-year lease. From this point, the course for races was set west across Guichen Bay, north and east towards Long Beach and back. Boats were left on the beach during summer, and the club stored odds and ends in a shed provided by John Lea, who built one of the first houses overlooking the cove. The club sailed from this site until a clubhouse was built at Karatta Beach in 2002.

(Based on information provided by the late A.L. Dawson, updated in 2019)


VJ Boats

Image: VJ boats on foreshore c 1955

Courtesy: the late Dean Fennell


Robe Yacht Club Inc (affiliated with the South Australian Yacht Racing Association)

The Robe Yacht Club was formed on 7 March, 1954, to reinvigorate sailing and boating competitions after a considerable period of recess. The first Commodore was Rick Cawthorne, Vice Commodore was John D Lea, and Secretary was Jenny Gilkes.

The following men have held the post of Commodore since then:

1955   T O'Grady

1956   F Squire

1957-1964   R Cawthorne

1965   Dr Magarey

1966-1967   M Sutherland

1968-1969   F Squire

1970-1971   R Jackman

1972   J Goode

1973-1974   G Squire

1975-1976   T Adams

1977-1980   J Lea

1981   G Baulch  

1982-1983   R Castine

1984-1987   M Legoe

1988   H Nolan  


Patronshave included:   Eric Shaw and Nigel MacGillivray.

Special events hosted by the club have included:

   1959 - National V.J. Championships

   1969 & 1971 - Adelaide to Robe Yacht Race

   1979 - First "Redgum" Yacht Squadron challenge

   1983 - Sailing classes commenced

   1986 - Adelaide to Robe Yacht Race revived

   1988 - Young Endeavour visit

(edited extract from "Dips and Drinks" - Robe Yacht Club Recipe Book 1988)

Robe Yacht Club

Image: Robe Yacht Club