Harbor revitalisation moves onshore

October 21, 2021 BY

RGYC Commodore Stuart Dickson wants the Geelong community to enjoy the significant improvements at the harbour which are making the precinct more accessible to the public. Photo: ALISON MARTIN

THE Royal Geelong Yacht Club is changing tack, as stage one of the $21.3 million Geelong harbour redevelopment progresses, and it embraces creating a destination for the growing Geelong community.

RGYC Commodore Stuart Dickson said Geelong Waterfront Safe Harbor Precinct Master Plan was about upgrading facilities for the club but also about making the area more user friendly and improving public access.

“As a club we’ve gone from a big concrete wall around here and it was all just about the club; this is all about being part of the Geelong community.”

Mr Dickson said the iconic Wangim Walk had already attracted more than half a million visitors, the expanded marina was at 92 percent capacity, and the tender to build the new Victorian Sailing School was being finalised this week.

He said the demolition of the old club building would start soon to make way for the new school, complete with bunkhouse to accommodate students from across the state.

The sailing school is a joint initiative between the Department of Education and the yacht club, and part of the next phase of stage one of the Geelong Waterfront Safe Harbor Precinct Master Plan.

The master plan’s completed stage one on-water components include the floating marina arm and Wangim Walk – the 440-metre wave attenuator that creates a safe harbor and one of Australia’s largest water walkways.

The focus is now on delivering the Off The Beach Clubhouse and Victorian Sailing School shared complex, as part of the funded on-land phase of stage one, with stage two, including extensive public promenades, pavilion and Yarra Pier upgrade, also proposed in the master plan.

“The marina can now accommodate 290 boats and we have 275 at the moment; we’re going pretty well,” Mr Dickson said.

“The club has 1176 members and we want to attract more social members; with all the people who are expected to be moving into the city, we want this to be their club of choice,” he said.

“We have the cafe now but a lot of people might not know it’s here.

“But we’ve come through COVID really well; people haven’t been going overseas and so they’ve been here.

“And now we’re coming out the other side.”

Meanwhile, the club’s achievements have been recognised across the state and nationally, after winning the honour of 2020 Victorian Yacht Club of the Year, and then claiming 2020 Yacht Club of the Year at the Australian Sailing Awards, following the biggest sailing season in the club’s 162-year history.

Mr Dickson said the awards recognised the ongoing growth of club activity, sailing, Learn to Sail and inclusive programs, community support programs, major community infrastructure development projects and the club’s huge Summer of Sailing during the 2019/20 season.

The Commodore is predicting the 2022 Festival of Sails will be “a really successful event”, with the club receiving almost 60 entries so far for the four-day, world-class competition.

The annual festival, established in Geelong in 1844, is planned for January 22 to 26, and the RGYC’s Wooden Boat Festival is booked for March, with the Young Endeavour planning to set sail for Geelong and be part of the popular event.

More information about the club and upcoming events is available at rgyc.com.au.

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