One Wednesday in 1949, K.C. Dalton Esq. Skipper of the “Owen Davern”, and Cedric Williams Esq., Skipper of the “Christina”, sailed a match race around Lion Island. The event aroused so much interest and enjoyment that it was decided to form a yachting association, and so BYRA was born.
The above inscription, which appears on BYRA’s perpetual trophy, “The K.C. Dalton Memorial Trophy”, states in brief how BYRA began. The first and inaugural meeting to form a yacht club or association was held at the home of Mr Dalton, “Marengo” Fermoy Avenue, Bayview, on the 27th November 1949, and an association was formed to be called – Bayview Yacht Racing Association, BYRA for short. Those who were present or had sent an apology plus those who were elected to the committee at the second meeting were declared to be foundation members, twenty one in all.
KCK Dalton – the founder of BYRA
Mr. Dalton had prepared a cup for the initial match race, won by Mr Williams in “CHRISTINA”. The BYRA committee, at the second meeting, resolved that the cup be known as the “Dalton Lion Island Perpetual Challenge Cup” and be open to Auxiliary Cruising Yachts acceptable to the committee. The cup was competed for as a challenge between the holder and a challenger, and is now an annual event open to all Auxiliary Yachts approved by the committee.
BYRA started as an all yachts club, the first race being held on 27th December 1949. The yachts started in the vicinity of Bayview wharf, running free to a mark near Riddle’s, thence round a mark in the vicinity of Long Nose, and back to Bayview, three times round. The winner of this race on handicap was “NYRIA” skippered by Mr.G. Solomon.
During 1950 BYRA decided to sponsor the Star class, and Stars were raced at BYRA as the Pittwater fleet until 1958. Mr Dalton had purchased from Melbourne a Star class yacht known as “Tranquil” 2816. This yacht was sailed in all BYRA races for some time and her performance was so satisfactory that other members purchased Stars with the idea of forming a fleet. At a general meeting of the BYRA executive and Star owners in June 1951, it was decided to form a Star Fleet to be known as the Pittwater fleet, and to apply for affiliation with the International Star Class Yacht racing Association of America. The charter was subsequently granted and, at the end of 1951 season, BYRA had ten Stars on the register.
In November 1950, Mr. Dalton launched at Pittwater the first certificated Dragon, D/KA1, “Platypus”. Dragon races were conducted during the whole of 1951 and at the end of that year BYRA had three certificated Dragons racing. Several more were in the offing and it was anticipated that the Dragon fleet would keep its flag flying at BYRA. However, during 1952 the Dragon fleet ceased to exist, some going to race on Sydney Harbour , and others not wanting to race on Sunday.
Early in 1952 BYRA was requested to form a V.J. fleet, and, at the end of 1952/53 season , BYRA had the second biggest V.J. fleet in the Sydney Harbour/ Pittwater Zone. The mixed yachts had fallen off by this time, and for a time BYRA consisted mainly of the Star and V.J. fleets, each operating as separate entities. During 1956, Moths were introduced to BYRA and proved to be very popular, at one time seriously threatening the V.J. fleet in numbers. To boost interest in the V.J.’s the Patron, Major H. Porter, donated a V.J. for a competition in 1961. This V.J. was named “Thoroughbred” and was won by David Robinson. During 1958 the number of Stars dwindled and eventually the Star fleet moved its activities to the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. During 1963 Herons made their appearance at BYRA, and were eventually given fleet status. 1964 saw the Commonwealth Heron titles at BYRA, and this helped to build up the fleet, so much so that the increased number of family members brought in with the Herons was a shot in the arm financially for BYRA. The 1964/65 season saw the introduction of three more classes – the 505, Fireball and the TS16 – and BYRA was really growing fast, with a predominantly family atmosphere. New classes introduced since then were 1967/68 Mirror Dinghy; 1969/70 Manly Juniors; 1970/71 NS14 and GriffinT.S. 17; 1974/75 Solo; 1977/78 Flying Ants, 1984/85 Spirals.
In the early years (1950/57) a two storey boatshed in the vicinity of Riddles shop was rented from the council for a nominal fee and became the BYRA clubhouse. With the advent of the Moth fleet and growing membership it was seen that a bigger clubhouse would soon be needed, and during the 1956/57 season plans were made to extend the clubhouse. Much of the planning and direction was provided by Mr. Henry King and Mr Richard Overy. The necessary money to build was raised at various functions and from debentures taken out by a number of members and interested persons.
The extended clubhouse was opened by the Patron, Mr Dalton, on 23rd November 1957, and was then of upstairs dimensions 40 feet by 38 feet with down stairs accommodation for 40 boats. Eventually hot showers, septic toilets and amenities were installed, making BYRA one of the most comfortable clubhouses in the Sydney area.
With further growth in membership, and the introduction of new classes, the clubhouse was further extended in 1959/60 and capable of storing 72 boats. In the 1966/67 season further extensions were carried out. The 1969/70 season saw the upstairs floor tiled and the interior made more attractive. In 1971/72 the upstairs deck was extended and more storage for boats provided downstairs. In the early stages much of the work was done by voluntary labour, the members being very keen, but the later stages were able to be let out to builders owing to the improved financial status of the club from an enlarged membership.