Darwin Sailing Club
Our rich history

Our rich history

Part of Darwin since 1963

From humble beginnings

Until the early 1960’s sailing on Darwin Harbour was almost non-existent with many believing it was too dangerous due to the tides. The Darwin Sailing Club was formed in March 1963 with the aim "to promote and encourage the building, sailing and racing of all types of sailing craft in Darwin and surrounding waters."

Tom Strickland

Tom Strickland was the first Commodore. The first race was sailed on 15 April 1963 with 11 boats taking part ranging from an 8-foot dinghy to 20-foot catamarans. Membership fees were two pounds, two shillings per year with associates and juniors paying 10 shillings. Associates sold soft drinks and cigarettes on the beach to raise money for the Club.

The first Clubhouse

Originally the APEX rotunda was used as a Clubhouse until a temporary Clubhouse was built covered with chicken wire and thatched with coconut palm fronds. Stage 1 of the Clubhouse was opened in 1966. In 1968 the Prime Minister John Gorton officially opened the Alan Atkins wing – named after the Club patron and assistant Administrator. In 1970 the Junior Clubhouse was built, which has since been divided up to house the Ambon Office, the Training Room and the Juniors Room. The Club was severely damaged by Cyclone Tracy in December 1974, but due to hard work by Club members the season opened as planned on 13th April 1975 with 43 boats sailing. Many sailing clubs throughout Australia sent donations to help with the rebuilding of the Club.

Many different classes of boats have been based at the Club over the years. Initially catamarans predominated and by 1968 the Club provided class racing in A Class, B Class, Arafura Cadet, Arrow, Moth, Mirror and open.

The 1970's

The 1970’s saw the heyday of cats with Mosquitos, Maricats, Black Witches and Hobies added to the fleet. In the 1980’s Lasers and Tasars had begun to dominate, and 1990 saw the introduction of the Minnow for junior sailing. In 1970 the Cruising Yacht Association of the NT was formed with the aim of promoting cruising races. The Club hosted the inaugural Darwin to Dili Yacht race in 1973 with six starters. The race had to be cancelled in 1975 due to political strife in East Timor and the Darwin to Ambon race was first held the following year. In 1998 the Darwin to Ambon Race suffered the same fate as the Dili Race.

Our competitive history

Club members have participated in national and international championships since 1965. The Club hosted Australian Catamaran Week on numerous occasions as well as hosting national championships for Tasars, Lasers and Minnows. The honour board of national and world champions, as well as place-getters for the Club is impressive. In 1988 Club members sailed the "Northern Territory Spirit" in the 7600 nautical mile Bicentennial Round Australia Yacht Race.

Passing on skills and tradition

Training classes for both juniors and seniors have always been an important part of Club activities. The Club has been very fortunate right through its history to have had members who have been dedicated to training, particularly training juniors.


Thanks to our major sponsors

Darwin Port
Nautical Supplies
Sponsor of Junior Sailing
Arthur J Gallagher Insurance
Ramada Suites
Ward Keller
Mount Gay
Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association
Carlton United Breweries
Pernod Ricard
Television Sponsor
Waterfront Bistro
Coca-Cola-Amatil