The Early Years
MHYC: The First 60 Years
Article by: Frank Like
Chapter 3 Ocean Racing
Max Barnett's Pinta was the Winner of MHYC's first offshore yacht race. Prior to this event, however, a number of skippers of club yachts had indicated their desire to go offshore sailing. This followed a glowing speech by Wally Burke about his participation in the Lake Macquarie Race. Wally's talk fired up members and the next Lake Macquarie Race saw six MHYC yachts enjoying the excitement of a night start and sail up the coast, and the 'hauling down' to be towed over the 'drop over' into the lake. The hauling down procedure required two motor boats: one to haul the yacht down by the mast using its halyard, the other to tow it over the shallows.
MHYC participants in the 1955 Lake Macquarie Race were: Eudoria (Norman Way); Aquarelle (Nev McEnally);Ailsa (Bill Henderson); Firefly (Graham Newland); Seawind (Norm Brooker); Ladybird (Hal Harpur); and Blue Peter (Wally Burke). There was great racing on the Lake that Easter weekend with outstanding hospitality from the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club and the inevitable hung-over passage home on Easter Monday. Some yachts cruised north to Port Stephens and Broughton Island.
The club's first ocean race, up to Broken Bay, was organised in 1954. Wally Burke was appointed scrutineer, to check the suitability of the competing yachts, and at 0800 hours on August 21, the small fleet drifted across the line, full of anticipation for a pleasant sail up the coast, hopefully with a sojourn in the Newport Pub to follow. The pioneering yachts were: Pinta (Max Barnett); Joy (Alf Wildman); Windsong (Noel Hopkinson); Ladybird (Hal Harpur, sailed by Peter Fletcher); Poinciana (Harry Begg); Talua (Max Halliwell); Ailsa (Bill Henderson); Seawind (Norm Brooker); and Firefly (Graham Newland).
Light headwinds meant that by mid-afternoon only the leaders had reached Long Reef. Max Barnett in Pinta had whistled up a bit of a breeze and had established a good lead, but a few of the fleet gradually dropped out and returned home, or resorted to motoring to Pittwater for the rendezvous at Newport Pub. Around Barrenjoey, the crew of Pinta set a kite, and finished at 0335 hours on August 22 well pleased with their effort. Ailsa crossed the line at 0430 hours; and Seawind followed five minutes later.
The participating skippers voted to repeat the event the following year and it became known as the 'Harry Elderfield Trophy Race'.