Lake Macquarie History

Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto

Parent Club - RMYC Rose Bay

The Motor Boat Club of New South Wales was formed on 6 July 1905, by a group of Motorboat Owners at the Aaron's Exchange Hotel in Sydney. The aim of the Club was to promote motor boating, including racing and social activities. In 1927, His Majesty King George V granted the Club the honour of Royal patronage - conferring the right of the Club to use the prefix “Royal”, being the first time a Motorboat Club outside of the UK had been given this honour.

Formation of Toronto Branch

photo: rmyc on opening day 1927

By 1912, Toronto was developing as a township, and it is no surprise that sailing and rowing were popular pastimes on this part of the Lake. The Toronto 16ft Sailing Club was formed in this year, it's first headquarters being Clouten's boatshed in Wharf Street. Meetings were held at the Great Northern Hotel and Toronto Hotel, and many on water events and outings were organised.

In 1927 a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Toronto 16ft Sailing Club and R.M.Y.C. Rose Bay, and the Royal Motor Yacht Club Newcastle Branch was formed and opened on Saturday 1st November at its present location. The first clubhouse, ‘Lake Holme’, was the former residence of William Arnott (of Arnott’s biscuit fame) and family. It was given to the club for use as a clubhouse by the then owner Charles Bacon. Charles Bacon was the publican of Toronto Hotel and lived next door to the RMYC in the Pagoda house.

The parent club was very happy to have a branch in the Toronto location because of the "natural advantages afforded local owners of motorised yachts by the magnificent stretch of water at Lake Macquarie, and the facilities offered at nearby Newcastle harbour"(Fulton, p16) At the time of formation thirty members were enrolled.

Growth

The Club remained at this location until the beginning of World War II when boating activities on the Lake were suspended, and the property was requisitioned for use as an Air Force Recreation Centre, to service nearby Rathmines Air Base. At the end of the war, when the Air Force Recreation Club was no longer required, the building was converted into a nightclub named "Lake Holme" which operated for a short period of time.

Also at the end of the war the RMYC Newcastle Branch re-formed, and once more the local hotels and boatshed became the headquarters. These temporary premises proved very inadequate, and on September 5th 1947 a Special General Meeting resolved that the club name be changed to "Toronto Motor Yacht Club Limited" to enable funds be raised to purchase Lake Holme for a club house once again. The funding was raised and the building purchased, the name of the organisation was changed for a final time. It now become the "Royal Motor Yacht Club, Toronto"

Major alterations were made to the club in 1957, including re-roofing, extending the dance floor, addition of a new bar and new ladies toilets and showers. Construction of a new ramp and marina also began in this period.

In 1969 the club saw the need for future expansion and purchased adjoining property between the existing clubhouse and Bath Street. This provided the incentive to enlarge the building to its current size. Local architect Tim Mayo designed the extensions which were opened by Ex-commodore S. J. Cummings on October 12th 1974.

Racing

photo: rmyc toronto queens birthday powerboat race 1980

Since its inception the club has fostered cruiser and power boat racing and operated with a “very high degree of nautical ceremony and prestige, and on occasions, such as race days and other functions, uniform dress was mandatory”(RMYC website).

In the past the Queen’s Birthday regattas held at the Royal Motor Yacht Club were seen as the highlight of the racing year and would bring speed boats from all over Australia to compete. However, the rising cost of insurance premiums and concerns about speed boat noise on Lake Macquarie has seen competitive speed boat racing discontinued. The club however does maintain an active Cruising section.

Since its establishment the club had produced many local, state, national and international speed boat champions. This includes Ken Warby holder of the World Water Speed Record of 511.11km/hour which was set in 1978 and still stands today.

In sail boat racing the club has been as equally as proud and has also produced local, state, national and international champions; such as 1983 World 505 Skiff Champions Terry Kyrwood and Reg Crick, and 1992 World 505 Skiff Champions Chris and Darren Nicholson. The club also has an active sail boat committee which conducts sailing yacht races twice a week.

Sources and further information

Fulton, Joan The first 60 years: a history of the Royal Motor Yacht Club, Newcastle Branch. 1987

Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto website

Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto Historical Site on Facebook