There is a major new event on the wooden boat community’s calendar. The Inverloch Wooden Dinghy Regatta is going to become a ‘must do’ item for those who are interested in classic wooden dinghies. Kerrin and I attended the three-day regatta on an Australia Day weekend of perfect weather for dinghy sailing and racing. Frank Raisin sailed his stunningly fast 16 foot skiff with a scratch crew. Tony and Linda Remington and Andrew Campbell came along as spectators. There were also some “newsletter only” WBA members whose names I don’t recall in attendance.

I noted twenty different designs or classes sailing on Anderson’s Inlet during the regatta (see my list below). I may have missed some, there was so much activity. The Moth class has a special place in Inverloch history and they were represented by four of the scow type designs, one of which was beautifully restored by Andrew Chapman.

The highlight of the weekend was the race on Sunday afternoon. With 29 boats crossing the starting line in a spectacular scene of spray soaked speeding boats and straining crews. The fleet sailed on a reach along the Inverloch foreshore after the start to the cheers of a large crowd. There were a few capsizes in the 15 knot South-westerly, and a Mirror broke its gaff in a meeting with a kite surfer’s string, but the race was acclaimed by all as a great success. The regatta was the brainchild of Wayne Smith and Andrew Chapman, club members at South Gippsland Y.C., who coordinated the various aspects of the regatta. They were interested in revitalizing the “Regatta Weekend” which had been a fixture of the Inverloch year from about 1900 to the 1980’s. Wayne and Andrew enlisted support from many club members who were on hand to help with everything from moving boats with the Quad bike to catering and even musical entertainment. Wayne and Andrew also involved the local community with the Rotary and Lions clubs providing trophies and setting up marquees. A number of local and Melbourne based businesses assisted with signage, publicity and sponsorship.

The catering by a team of club members headed by Di Grimmond was highly praised by all the visitors. (Apparently the members think it is “just normal”!) The regatta dinner on Sunday night delighted the crowd of about 70 participants with hors d’oevres, sumptuous main courses and a range of desserts. Wines were made available by the Rotary Club, and one of their members with an interest and expertise in appreciation of such things, gave an informative talk about the acquisition of the wines.

On Monday morning the boats were displayed in the park adjoining the Yacht Club, attracting the interest of the holiday crowds and engaging them with the opportunity to vote for a “People’s Choice” award. A set of four posters made by Marion Chapman using archival photos from past regattas were available for sale. A DVD is being produced which will show all the action. It could be played at a WBA Club Night in the near future.

For those interested in the competitive aspects, the race was won (based on YV yardsticks) by Gordon Syme from Yachtmaster Sailing School in a Rainbow. Yachtmaster was a sponsor of the regatta. Abbey Argus-Smith, a young member of S.G.Y.C. won the Junior Perpetual Trophy sailing a VJ. Frank Raisin finished with a creditable result (and no capsizes) in his 16 foot skiff. My racing performance in the Mirror was not particularly noteworthy. At the beginning of the second windward leg I was in a good position until I was caught in some adverse tidal current. Local knowledge is essential amongst the sandbars and channels of Anderson’s Inlet.

Next year’s regatta promises to be an even more spectacular occasion with the expectation of many more boats attending. I heard one participant say “Once the word gets around there will be three times as many boats here next year”.

My list of boats observed sailing at the regatta.

  • Jolley Boat 18 (2) from P.M.Y.C.
  • 12 square metre sharpie
  • 16 foot skiff - Frank Raisin’s
  • 16 foot skiff - built 1934
  • Rainbow
  • Cherub
  • Vaucluse Junior           
  • Skate
  • Moth (4)
  • Sailfish
  • McGregor sailing canoe (Oughtred design)
  • Willy boat (named “Tess”)
  • Whitehall –(adapted by owner-builder)
  • Mirror (4)
  • Impulse (4)
  • Fireball
  • Miracle (2)
  • Heron
  • GP14
  • One-off special from McCrae Y.C.

Leigh McNolty

Photos by Leigh and Kerrin McNolty

Photos by Andrew Campbell