About the Balmain Sailing Club

Our Story – How it all began

The original Balmain Sailing Club was formed in October 1885, in the era of the wonderfully over-canvassed open boats that varied in length from the 22 footers down to the impossibly proportioned six footers – the hull was six foot wide and six foot long, but they were 22 foot from the tip of their bow-sprit to the end off the boom!

These eighteen foot open boats were the forerunners of today's thrilling eighteen foot skiffs that skim the surface of the Harbour today, and which have ultimately led to the Olympic Class 49ers.

The story of the development of the Club, the heady days and wildly popular events is part of Sydney sailing folklore and it probably best told by the various news articles held now by the State Library of NSW.  This was when people watched from the shorelines around Sydney harbour when sailing was an entertainment to be watched and enjoyed.

The Balmain Sailing Club was re-established in 1995 after a period of little activity for nearly 50 years, when a community based group took over the lease for a premises at the foot of Water Street, Birchgrove, previously known as The Balmain 12ft Skiff Club. It was renamed the Balmain Sailing Club.

As the clubhouse and deck were in disrepair, a fundraising and building program was organised. Many enthusiastic and hardworking volunteers came along to transform the club into the facility it is today.

Some of the current members can still recall, among other things, the early working bee during which they turned over the deck timbers as the undersides were in good condition while the exposed surfaces had deteriorated badly.

Around the same time, a group was sailing on Mondays from Birkenhead Point -- the Birkenhead Yacht Club -- when this club disbanded a lot of members joined Balmain Sailing Club.

The Club was once again underway -- with the rebuilding of the deck, the inclusion of dinghies and the establishment of a sailing school. Under the guidance of the first office bearers and committee, the club began to grow and is still growing today.

Some cruising activity was enjoyed with picnic BBQs at Store Beach, the ‘Two Cats’ Race/Cruise (Tiger Town to Lion Island) and an annual Easter cruise. A cruising captain’s role was established and became part of the sailing committee.  Sailaways were held to locations within Sydney Harbour, and there were always members undertaking longer voyages -- something that continues to this day.

The present

More than 70 boats now participate in the Friday twilight races, 30 boats on summer Sundays, and more than 60 now race in the new West Harbour Winter Series. 

Today, the Balmain Sailing Club is a friendly, inclusive sailing club with active racing, training and cruising. The emphasis is on fun and friendly competition, in a beautiful waterfront location.

The future

We're writing that right now – why not join us and become part of the story!

2018-2019 Club Directors

  • Commodore: Campbell Reid
  • Vice-Commodore / Race Director: Alan Gregory
  • Secretary: Conrad Johnston
  • Treasurer: Ed Tacey
  • Director: Liesl Duffy
  • Director: Lindsay Fletcher
  • Director: Kathryn Underhill
  • Director: Mike West

Proud Sponsors of the Balmain Sailing Club