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Cowes Yacht Club – History

The Cowes Yacht Club formed in November 1957 by a group of motor boating enthusiasts.  Families involved in picnics, fishing and water skiing with boats launched over the beach on removable board mats.
Crown Land on a low lying area subject to flooding was obtained on a "permissive occupancy" arrangement from the Victorian Government Department of Lands, with the support of the Phillip Island Council. Members built up the yard area with general land fill and rubble, fencing off with Cyclone wire and providing gate access to the beach and Osbourne Avenue.

Yachting was added and grew in interest to become the major water sport.

A small timber ramp was built leading down to the beach and for many years accessed by both power boats and small "off the beach yachts" using rubber mats and a winch for recovery.
In the early 60's it became obvious that a club building was required, so the members set to with brawn, picks and shovels, digging the foundations by hand, to build the elevated club room with kitchen, toilets and race control room. A ground floor winch and storage room was also constructed This ground floor area was later enclosed and extended to include the Ladies and Gents toilets, showers and change rooms.

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In the mid 60's the club was changing with the advent of trailer sailors’ and bigger boats requiring all weather access to the water. The members rallied to the mammoth task of building a large timber ramp over the beach to the water. Concrete pipe piles were sunk 2.5 meters into the beach using a portable pump and sea water, followed by railway line bearers, timber supports and planking. Timber was specially selected Turpentine and Red gum hardwoods to withstand the ravages of the sea and Teredo Worm.

In 1984 the club was fortunate to have Barry Marshall, Architect, as a member, who provided a plan for modernisation of the premises facade. This together with the third storey radio room was completed over the summer of 1985, and has since been further extended by voluntary labor to include a semi enclosed balcony, bar, commercial kitchen, and a refrigerated cool room .

Cowes Yacht Club along with other Western Port Yacht clubs recognised the desperate need for rescue and wireless coverage on Western Port Bay. There was no rescue service or radio coverage provided by the Victorian Government. At this time, Police were relying on volunteers and private boats to carry out rescue operations.

Western Port Safety Council was formed by the clubs with a volunteer network of radio base stations and rescue boat service. Cowes Yacht Club being in the central location was a major participant in radio watch and rescue operations including many night searches and the memorable towing of the Stoney Point to Cowes passenger ferry "Eagle Star" to shallower water as it foundered with 80 passengers on board off the Cowes jetty. Passengers were rescued by the Cowes Yacht Club "Trojan rescue boat" without loss of life.

1994 saw the need to refurbish the lower end of the ramp, again club members rallied to the task, with Peter Selby Smith design expertise and Dennis Carr as project manager a full turnout of members dismantled the old ramp section and rebuilt it to today’s standards.

Cowes Yacht Club has been fortunate in having the services and expertise of members over many years and continues to prosper and provide water based activities to a wide range of members and public

We have strong connections with the other Phillip Island yacht clubs, Rhyll Yacht Club and Newhaven Yacht Squadron, and all three clubs host a triangular racing series for trailable yachts, which gives rise to a friendly rivalry and competition to win the series trophy.

Cowes Yacht Club is also part of Yachting Westernport, which involves all Westernport Yacht Clubs and is the organizer of two major Westernport sailing events, the Westernport Challenge for off the beach boats and junior skippers, and the Westernport Challenge for keel boats, trailable yachts and multihulls.

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