Fostering the sport of sailing since 1859 The Governor, The Hon Alex Chernov, AO, QC,
25 Eastern Beach Road Geelong VicPh:03 5229 3705 Info@rgyc.com.au
RGYC History The Challenge Cup - A Piece Of World Yachting History!
The Beginning On Friday, January 21, 1859, a meeting took place at the Victoria Hotel in Geelong, Victoria, of what would appear to have been the first official Geelong Regatta Committee - the regatta that was to become Royal Geelong Yacht Club's Festival Of Sail - Australia's oldest and largest keelboat regatta. The meeting's minutes show that amongst the motions, the first to be carried was... "That it is desirable that a regatta should take place this year in Geelong Bay". With those few words, the wheels of history were put in motion! At a series of subsequent meetings (held in various hotels in Geelong, so as not to offend any one publican), the format of the Regatta was gradually formulated, resulting in a program of 14 events with a combined total pize purse of £243 . Then, a house in Geelong's Main street cost around £55! The Regatta was a huge success, and on Friday, March 4, 1859, the minutes of an enthusiatic Committee meeting (this time at the Terminus Hotel) showed the Regatta Fund surplus to be just over 72 pounds, and the first two motions - "That a Yacht Club be formed in Geelong" and "That the club be called the Geelong Yacht Club" - were carried unanimously! The Prize At a General Meeting of the Club on June 8, 1859, the following motion was passed: "That the balance from the Regatta fund be supplemented by twenty guineas from the Yacht Club funds for the purpose of offering a prize to be sailed for a the regatta of 1860 by all yachts of all classes and that a private subscription be opened to raise the prize to 100 guineas........" At the time, 100 guineas amounted to £110! The prize was raced for on February 29, 1860 and won by the yacht 'Mystery'. Then, in January, 1861, a motion was carried "...it is desirable that the Club should purchase a Challenge Cup not exceeding 100 guineas..." Thus, the Challenge Cup was born, and in February, 1861, after raising the necessary funds, the design of the trophy was finalised and commissioned! (Perhaps it should be noted here that only 9 years earlier (in 1851), another 100 guinea cup was raced for. It became The America's Cup!) The Mystery The inaugural Challenge Cup race in 1861 was won by 'Mystery', the same yacht that won the 100 guinea cash prize the previous year. The second running in 1862 saw a Melbourne yacht, 'Secret' win the event. Then in 1863, the yacht 'Southern Cross' was the victor, owned by Major Heath and Mr W Jackson . Sadly for yachting, the fourth running of the event also spelled it's demise! In an unfortunate stroke of short-sightedness, the Committee included a clause in the Cup's deed of gift, stating "To be won by the same yacht two years and then to become the property of the owner of the said yacht". So, when Major Heath's 'Southern Cross' again won the Challenge Cup in 1864, it was resolved that the Cup be handed over to Messrs. Heath and Jackson, with the following inscription: Geelong Yacht Club 1859 1861 - 1st MATCH WON BY MYSTERY1862 - 2nd MATCH WON BY SECRET1863 - 3rd MATCH WON BY SOUTHERN CROSSThen, this unique prize, part of the World's yachting history, left the Club, with its whereabouts sinking into obscurity as years passed. The Quest It is the intention of Royal Geelong Yacht Club to locate the Challenge Cup, and, return it to our Club. We will then reinstate it as the trophy for The Champion Boat of The Festival Of Sail. We ask all sailors from clubs around the world, to check through their trophy cabinets for a cup resembling the photo above. The trophy may not look the same as the image. The image is a digitized copy of an artist's sketch. Similarly, if you, your family or friends have some old sailing trophies gathering dust in an attic, please spare some time to dust off the cobwebs to see what the inscription under the dust says! If you know something of the activities of either Major Heath or Mr (Wm) Jackson in the years following 1864, then please let us know - it may turn up a clue! We know that Major Heath went on to become a Commodore of The Royal Yacht Club Of Victoria, and that there were no decendents to inheret his estate. Lastly, please tell your friends! The only way we will recover the Challenge Cup is to pass the word through the huge sailing community around the World. Who knows... the person sitting on the rail next time you sail may have Royal Geelong's Challenge Cup sitting on the mantlepiece at home! Don't hesitate to get in touch ... even the tiniest clue may be the key!
The Royal Geelong Yacht Club Honour Boards
The Royal Gelong Yacht Club Address: 25 Eastern Beach Road, Geelong. 3220, VIC AUSTRALIA
PO Box 156, Geelong Vic 3220 AUSTRALIA
Tel: 61 3 5229 3705 Fax: 61 3 52232768 Email: email@example.com Web: www.rgyc.com.au
Alternate Direct Lines: Marina: 0418 524867
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