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Russel Northe MLA:
Latrobe Valley Yacht Club

Latrobe Valley Yacht Club (LVYC) entering into dialogue with the Lake Wellington Yacht Club is bittersweet news for many in the Latrobe Valley community.

By Portal Admin - 1st March 2020 - Back to News

News that the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club (LVYC) has entered into dialogue with the Lake Wellington Yacht Club is bittersweet news for many in the Latrobe Valley community.

Whilst it’s hopeful that the LVYC and it members have a future to also know that its future won’t be within the Latrobe Valley area is so incredibly disappointing, Mr Northe said.

Since Hazelwood Pondage closed to the general public the LVYC has been in limbo as have many other stakeholders and users of what was a unique body of water.

Whether you enjoyed sailing, recreational water sports or swimming the closure of the Pondage has impacted so many people.

As indicated by the LVYC the annual sauna sail event provided a massive economic boost to our region but that has now gone. The Sailability program that supported local persons with a disability to participate in sailing activities is also now gone.

Some of these same participants have competed in National and International events and its just incredulous that this program in the Latrobe Valley will be no more.

It simply defies belief that the State Government has not shown one skerrick of interest in keeping Hazelwood Pondage open to the LVYC and other stakeholders including recreational users, swimmers and even emergency service agencies.

It’s bizarre and hypocritical that the State Government on the one hand is asking the community to identify tourism and sporting and recreation opportunities (see Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy 3.1) but on the other hand it has allowed Hazelwood Pondage to close without a whimper.

To the President of the LVYC in Don McCowat and his members I congratulate you all on your professionalism in what has been such a challenging time for the Club and wish you every success for the future.

Below is a copy of the LVYC media release:

Media Release
Latrobe Valley Yacht Club
January 2020

The Latrobe Valley Yacht Club (LVYC) has been completing a Strategic Plan and Feasibility Study to consider all future options for the club’s operations. The club was displaced from their long term home at the Hazelwood Pondage and has been working through the significant challenges that this has presented over the last two years.

The Latrobe Valley Authority funded a Strategic Planning Project, which enabled the club to engage GippSport Community Solutions to work through the options available. Project consultant Michelle Harris needed to work extensively with key stakeholders across the Latrobe Valley to understand which waterways were suitable for Sailing and if infrastructure could be developed to meet the club’s needs.

The LVYC moved to Hazelwood Pondage in 1964 from Lake Narracan and has provided decades of sailing opportunities to the community. These comprise of Sailing Programs including Club Sailing races for a range of craft, beginner programs and the very popular All Abilities Sailing Program "Sailability". The Sailability program saw 2 members become state champions in their class.

The club also ran a very successful Sauna Sail event over the years which was the major fundraiser for the year and a highlight for many. The Sauna Sail brought much to the Latrobe Valley with significant contribution to local economy bringing hundreds of people to the area and was recognised by Latrobe City which sponsored LVYC Sauna Sail annually for many years.

The club requires access to purpose built facilities that is able to store their club boats and equipment as well as pontoon and boat ramp facilities in order for participants to access the water way. Since the closure of Hazelwood, the study found that there were no other options that could provide these facilities.

Planning controls, land manager restrictions or just the suitability for Sailing ruled out many of the options and the cost to construct suitable infrastructure was very expensive, more than $400,000 for only basic facilities.

Consultation with all members was undertaken through a survey, committee workshops and special meetings. It was important for everyone to understand each of the options before they contributed to the decision making processes. Not all member’s needs could be met with any of the outcomes identified.

The club has been operating over the last two seasons with a club calendar that rotates across a number of venues, often without the support infrastructure in place. One of the options was to continue operating in this way, with a permanent storage facility not located near a water way but it was determined that this was not sustainable.

Waterways that were considered, with a number of options in each included Lake Narracan, Blue Rock Lake and Lake Wellington. Sailability has not functioned since the closure and it is disappointing that LVYC Sailability can no longer offer the community a rare inclusive activity and reduces recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. Sailability could operate within Latrobe Valley as outlined in the feasibility study but would require great support from the community.

The displacement of the club and the complexity of the options has meant that the club membership has declined.

A special general meeting was held on Wednesday the 22nd of February, to discuss and vote on the future of the club to go forward. After a lot of discussion about all the options the club has voted to enter into negotiations with Lake Wellington Yacht Club to find a mutually agreeable way to enter into a partnership.

Lake Wellington Yacht Club is located on the Gippsland Lakes at Marley Point. Both clubs will benefit from the sharing of volunteers, equipment and resources and this is the best option for the club to provide safe sailing programs right away.

It is also hoped that LYVC volunteers will support the Lake Wellington Sailability Program which mean that their program could grow and cater for greater numbers of groups accessing the All Abilities Program. This biggest challenge will be the increased travelling time.

The LVYC Committee would like to thank you everyone who has supported the club over the last two years. It has been a challenging time and now it is time to focus on growing the sailing opportunities in Gippsland and ensure that all members have the chance to enjoy what they love most about Sailing- friends and being out on the water.


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