Club History  |  Cronulla Sutherland Kayak Club

Club History

The Early Years

The club was formed as the Lilli Pilli Kayak Club in 1965 from within the 1st Lilli Pilli Sea Scout Group. It began when two senior members of the Scout Group, Don Freeman and Don McNeice acquired kayaks for their sons who were members of the Scout Group. The interest this created led to the formation of the Kayak Club with Don Freeman as its first President. The Kayak Club was formed with an independent committee that acted as an auxiliary to the Scout Group, had its own constitution and was open to members who were not Scouts. A program of boatbuilding commenced with the assistance of Albert Hopkins a long time canoeist and life member  of NSW Canoeing.

Boatbuilding 1966

From the outset the Club embarked on a range of activities including flat water slaloms, regattas, touring and racing and water safety training. In 1967 club members first tackled white water events and in subsequent years gained placings in the State and Australian Championships. On flat water the Lilli Pilli to Audley race, first paddled in 1966, was adopted in 1967 as the Club’s annual race.

Lilli Pilli to Audley Race – February 1967

In the 1967/1968 season the club affiliated with the NSW Canoe Association and was instrumental in having Touring Class kayak races at the State Sprint Championships, leading to club members gaining many places at the 1970 State Championships. In fact, 1970 was a significant year for the club as, apart from the State Sprint Championships, club members travelled to Perth for the Australian Whitewater Championships. But locally the highlight was the staging with the assistance of the club of a race from Audley to Gunnamatta Bay as part of the Bi-Centenary Celebrations. This was the largest canoe race ever held in Australia and comprised some 200 paddlers, including Olympians, in 150 boats and it went on to become a popular annual event on the club’s race
calendar.

Start of Port Hacking Classic – 1970

The 1970’s was a period of growth in both membership and activities for the club. From a membership of 35 paddlers in 1967 the club had advanced to 115 active members by 1971. The emphasis on touring class kayaks gradually gave way to K1’s, leading to a very high standard of racing and the development of a number of Lilli Pilli paddlers, including one of those original Junior Scouts, into Australian representatives at the Olympics and World Championships. And for all the “ordinary” members of the club it provided a great social and sporting outlet.

Start of Port Hacking Classic – 1980