The South Perth Yacht club grew out of the love of sailing and the need to allow the youth of South Perth to adopt a sport that kept them off the streets. A meeting between like-minded sailors had them building the new Vaucluse Juniors or VJ’s as they were known and a decision was made to form a yacht club based in South Perth on the 18th of December 1945. Events moved swiftly and by the 12th of February 1946, a constitution was adopted and Frank Sampson was elected Commodore of the South Perth Yacht club along with a foundation committee. An ex army mess hut was purchased and shifted to the foreshore of the Canning River near the Olives Reserve on Mary St in Como.
The Club was officially opened on the 16th of November 1946 and by 1955 the club was bursting at the seams with 400 members of which over half were juniors thanks to the training programs initiated by the sailing parents and volunteer coaches. In 1956 plans were initially put in place to expand the site where they were on the eastern side of the river, but they were advised of the new Kwinana freeway build and that the club would have to shift.
Assistance from the WA govt was sought and it was decided that land next to Coffee Point on the other side of the river could be utilised and during the dredging process for the new freeway, five acres of land would be built from river spoil and that would form the base for the new club house. By 1960 the new club house was ready and the move was made to the western shore of the Canning River with the club now carrying the name; the South of Perth Yacht Club.
The club continued to grow and with access to both the Swan and Canning rivers, the Centreboard fleet launched straight out onto the Swan and the Keelboat and Power section were safely penned on the Canning River side. From this basis, the club continued to grow with a strong training emphasis maintaining the flow of juniors some of whom went on to buy and sail larger boats culminating in the Fremantle to Geraldton yacht race which began in 1969 and continues on today. Alongside the sailing, the Power section began time trialling in 1962 and they still rule the roost amongst the clubs of the river, when not cruising to Rottnest Island or points further north or south.
The South of Perth Yacht club has undergone many changes in the last 60 years, but it prides itself with a strong sense of community and has worked hard to maintain its place between the two rivers. As sailing itself changes, we now look forward to the new sailing trends; catering for youth and adult sailing and we can still enjoy the club house with secure pens and facilities built by many hands all those years ago.
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