The Cairns Yacht Club has been part of the history of Cairns in one form or another since 1908. During this time, the Club has operated under three names. Initially it was known as the Cairns Aquatic Club, being formed by several of the regions’ business leaders to foster the sport of sailing on Trinity Inlet.
In the beginning, meetings were conducted at various business houses in the town until 1917, when a lease of an old rice mill on the present Yacht Club site was obtained. Club members then converted the old rice mill into their clubrooms. At the time, the building was actually in Trinity Inlet on stilts and was accessed via a gangplank. It was decided to establish fleets of 16 and 18 foot yachts, which were both cumbersome and slow, however, it gave crews recreation and enjoyment of their sport.
In 1920 the clubhouse was destroyed in a cyclone and the executive decided to erect a new shed. One thousand pounds was raised by way of debentures and the Harbor Board supplied a pile driver, the new building was opened for business a few months later. Following the establishment of their permanent home, the Club continued to flourish, with it becoming the prominent sporting and social club of the town.
In the early years, the Cairns Aquatic Club was responsible for constructing the first navigation tower on Green Island and conducted social sails to “Browns Bay” (now known as Second Beach) on the eastern side of Trinity Inlet, which at the time, was only accessible by boat. Seeing the potential of the area, the Club leased land with the intention of developing recreational facilities for member’s use during school holidays and social gatherings.
Sailing on Trinity Inlet has continued to this day and has only been punctuated by World War 1 and World War 2. Club members fought for their country and several paid the ultimate price. When peace prevailed and the servicemen returned home, boats were rebuilt and sailing recommenced, with the introduction of VJs to the fleet.
Prior to World War 2, the Cairns Aquatic Club enjoyed success winning several national and state championships. In the years following World War 2, sailing became a very popular sport on Trinity Bay – particularly during the summer months – with large fleets of 16 and 18 foot skiffs, VJ’s, sharpies, gwens and junior sailing in sabots. With this upsurge in sailing, national and state championships for skiffs were successfully conducted and a name change to Cairns Sailing Club occurred. The club became an even more popular social venue with its large dance floor. Friday night dances, debutante balls and receptions were organized by a succession of hard working volunteers.
In 1977, with keelboat and trailer sailer racing becoming more popular, a move to amalgamate yachting in Cairns was initiated, resulting in the Tropical Catamaran Club, based at Ellis Beach, amalgamating with Cairns Sailing Club to form the new Cairns Yacht Club, housed in the newly renovated and licenced clubhouse. Later sailboarders and paddlers also joined the club.
Since 1977, sailing in and out of Trinity Bay has flourished. Following the demise of skiff racing, new dinghy and catamaran fleets have emerged, together with a large fleet of keelboats including a J24 racing / training fleet of six. In recent years, the club has again enjoyed notable and multiple success with members winning national and state championships in catamaran and dinghy classes. In the keelboat division, offshore and inshore racing has, since 1975, been successfully conducted in the waters between Lizard Island to the North and Townsville to the South. In 1985, the club successfully conducted the first International Yacht Race in Queensland, from Noumea to Cairns and has assisted the Royal Papua Yacht Club on several occasions in running the Cairns to Port Moresby Yacht Race.
In the Club’s centenary year, 2008, the original clubhouse, home for the Yacht Club for one hundred years, was demolished to make way for waterfront development and the Club was relocated to new premises in the Marlin Marina.
Our Modern Facilities now include clubroom, boatshed, marina finger and berths, alongside bar and restaurant run by Salt House, all with excellent views of Trinity Inlet. This augers well for the future development of the sport of yachting at the Cairns Yacht Club.