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)
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)
Image: Robe Yacht Club