Club Refurbishment Q&A’s


The Clubhouse interiors are now some 17 years old and are starting to show their age.  In addition we have learned over the years that the Club is not as well laid out as it could be, especially given the constrained nature of the site. 

Member feedback has told the Board that:

  • The flow of people around the Clubhouse is poor
  • The kitchen is in the wrong place and divides the club up
  • The Rani room is dark and unwelcoming
  • The Sydney Hobart bar and Members bar are inefficient and struggle to cope in peak times
  • The YSA classroom is cramped and the facilities for the YSA students not up to scratch
  • The changing rooms and showers are inadequate and get very crowded on wet days 

From an operational perspective, our staff team is presently based in 5 different locations around the club – which makes it very inefficient to manage and lead the team.

Members will recall that we ran two feedback sessions two years ago based on some great concept plans prepared by the Redevelopment Committee and brought to life by Past Director Geoff Bonus.  In those sessions we received some great ideas from members which the Redevelopment Committee has taken on board.  It’s also listened to feedback from the email line to develop the proposals that we are now ready to share with Members.

Members will see from the proposals on display, the main idea is that we make the Club work better for all Members - however they choose to enjoy the Club.   To achieve this we are trying to dedicate as much versatile space as possible for Members than ever before, within the constraints of our building envelope and budget.

We are not abandoning the existing development approval.  The next stage of that approval would however require the Club to expend significant sums on the works associated with the subterranean car park – at least in part.  This would exhaust all of our existing cash reserves and would mean that we would then be unable to refresh the Clubhouse for many years.

The Board has decided therefore to suspend the existing development for several years to allow for the much needed refurbishment to take place and for cash reserves to then be subsequently rebuilt.

Is there anything new from the previous design?

Member's feedback from the previous design helped form the refurbishment brief for our architects, Allen Jack+Cottier .There was strong resistance to an extension of the external roof over the deck which was removed from the brief. The current refurbishment design also includes the Annex which the previous design did not as we realised we needed to look at all available space to develop a cohesive solution.

Why is the YSA moving to the Sir David Martin reserve buildings?  Won’t that disconnect it from the club?

Our own research and that of the club industry, shows that the membership of clubs is ageing.  We all know how hard it is to get regular crew to sail our boats and over the years, your Board has tried a variety of measures to build the membership numbers with active sailors.

We know that price is a barrier to membership – particularly for younger members and so have strived to keep the annual fees as low as possible, developed the crew membership category and also ran the 70th Sydney Hobart anniversary membership drive - which added some 400 new members, many of whom have stayed with us.

But the reality is that we are not bringing young sailors through the Club at a quick enough rate to assure our future.

Historically, we have relied upon other clubs around the harbour to develop youth sailing, in the hope and expectation that they will then move on to join the CYCA in later life.  This still works to a degree, but is not solving the issue.

We have also seen the strong youth programs developed by RSYS and MHYC come to fruition and have thought about how we can similarly develop a youth sailing offering to our members and their families.

Clearly the current site is not conducive to centreboard sailing and while we have an excellent YSA program and 10 smart Elliot 7 boats, we do not have the capacity to greatly expand that program.

So, we have looked further afield and working with Woollahra Council, Yachting Australia and the local community, we aim to develop a plan, in conjunction with the existing tenants, over the next couple of years to develop the Sir David Martin Reserve Buildings and associated Sayonara Slipway, into a centre of excellence for youth sailing – with the YSA at the heart of it.

This will bring not only a flood of new, younger members to our Club, but will develop a yachting precinct at Rushcutters Bay that serves the interests of the community by catering for all ages of sailor.

While this idea is being developed, we are delighted to have been granted a lease of the 60 sqm sail loft area in the Sir David Martin Reserve buildings, currently occupied by Yachting NSW.  We will simply turn this space into a classroom (that is twice the size of our current classroom in the YSA Annex) and this classroom will be used by both the YSA and Pacific Sailing School for teaching the next generation of sailors, young and not so young.

The extra capacity afforded by the classroom will mean that not only can we expand the activity of the YSA, but its work will continue uninterrupted during the refurbishment.

Once the work is completed, the YSA administrative team will still be based with the rest of the staff team in the open plan annex office space, which will be wonderful for collaboration.  The new classroom will be purely used for theory, training and debriefing.

Strategically, the opportunity to cost effectively acquire harbour front property is one we cannot pass up.  Space is our biggest constraint, and the space we are taking now is just the start of what we hope will be the development of an integrated sailing precinct that runs from our club all the way down to RANSA.

As stated, we are already sharing our ideas and vision with Yachting Australia and Woollahra Council and, together with the other businesses based in the precinct area, aim to develop a cohesive plan that will see this vision come to life over the next 10 years or so.

Our vision is that the YSA, of which we are so proud, will become the centre of our expansion into a broad-based youth sail training program probably through a new sailing foundation that will develop our sport, bringing in new and younger members and their families to our club and thereby fuelling the Club into the future.

What is happening with the entrance to the Club?

We have looked at creating a heightened sense of arrival when approaching the Club. Externally the pedestrian entry into the clubhouse will be reconfigured, paved steps will lead down to the entry, whilst a complying disabled ramp will be relocated to the side.

The new timber clad entry and signage will define the entrance to the Club. The low lying curved metalclad roof will be replaced with a low profile roof positioned to increase the ceiling height. High windows will be located directly below the roof providing natural light deep into the Club.

The reception and circulation areas have been designed to enhance the visual connection through the public spaces. A new retail area with merchandise that members can access will also form part of this area.

For the first time members and passers-by will be able to view the trophies of the premier ocean racing club on the ground level. Trophies including the Tattersalls Cup will be on display in a specially designed picture window to the street off the new entrance area.

The design will make the Club a first class venue, that is also embracing and relaxed and one that rests quietly in its harbour location.

What has happened about a roof over the deck? We don’t want views of the marina compromised.

It is proposed that the existing roof over the raised part of the deck be replaced with a low profile tensile roof. The proposed roof will be lower in profile than the existing raked roof to increase the distant views out to the Harbour from the Clubhouse.

The roofed over area will not be expanded however, the redesigned clubroom space will increase covered seating space significantly.

What is happening about shower and toilet facilities?

There will be new larger shower, toilet and change room facilities located in the ground floor of the renovated Annex. These facilities have been located in such a way that they can be accessed by the members 24 hours a day. A laundry facility has also been provided. The male and female toilets in the Clubhouse will also be upgraded.

How will my membership experience be enhanced through this refurbishment?

Members experience will be enhanced by the many improvements proposed at the club including:

  • A new entrance to the Club (detailed above);
  • Sydney Hobart Club Room reconfigured and refurbished including the relocation of the external stair to clear the view to the harbour from the Club Room;
  • Upgrade of servery area and bar and relocation of kitchen; 
  • Kiosk service point on the walkway offering varying food options to Members and the community with easy access from the marina and park;
  • The creation of a new contiguous dedicated Members lounge space in the current Board room. This space provides the flexibility of bar and lounge areas that Members have requested;
  • The upgrade of acoustics and finishes to the Freya and Morna rooms;
  • The creation of a training room with added archive storage compactus. Proposed to be a flexible space, the training room is where members can work on archives, listen to talks, and attend meetings. The training room also has the flexibility to open up to the Freya Morna Rooms to provide extra room when required for large gatherings such a prize giving nights, race briefings etc;
  • Upgrade of kitchens to enhance Member social functions and prize-givings;
  • Extensions to the YSA through securing the lease of the YNSW building;
  • Relocation and upgrade of male and female change facilities into the annex, offering 24 hour access;
  • Addition of a laundry in the Annex.

 Is this just about the buildings?

The Board is also working to use technology to significantly improve the member experience.

Internally, the new administration function will all be wireless and use cloud technology – saving the Club a significant sum in hardware.

This new technology will also cut through to the way in which Members interact with the Club and the technology team is looking at innovations that will allow members to use their membership smart card (or smart phone app) to access all Club services, charge for drinks and food, register and enter for races, check results, source crew, receive updates, book events, give feedback, pay accounts etc.

The intention is to have this technology in place for when the Annex is ready to be occupied.

When will the refurbishment commence?

Once the Club garners Member feedback from this process, we will then brief the architect on the next stage to document the refurbishment for Development Approval through Woollahra Council. The Approval process is entirely dependent on Council’s timeframe however we hope to commence construction sometime in 2017.

How long will it take?

The Board is committed to keeping the Club functioning throughout the refurbishment. To do this the refurbishment will be staged (see below). Once plans are finalised an estimated timeframe will be advised.

How will club facilities and services be impacted during this time?

There will obviously be some disturbances to services during the refurbishment however the Club will remain open with the necessary facilities needed for the proper functioning of the Club throughout the refurbishment.

Will it be a staged project? If so, how will it be staged?

We are committed to keeping the Club functioning throughout the entire duration of the refurbishment. To do this the refurbishment will be staged.

Stage 1

The first stage will be the upgrade of the Annex building. The tenants currently located in the Annex will be relocated during construction and/or pause trading during the duration of construction.

Once the Annex upgrade is complete the tenants will be reinstated in their new accommodation.

The change rooms, laundry facilities will be made available for use by members 24 hrs/7days a week.

The Club’s administration team will be consolidated in one centralised area on the first floor of the Annex.

The Sailing and Marina offices will be combined in their new accommodation on the ground floor of the Annex directly across from the Clubhouse entrance.

Stage 2

The second stage will be the refurbishment of the first floor of the Clubhouse. The relocation of the external stair to the deck will be included in this stage.  The ground floor of the Club will remain in operation whilst this work is undertaken.

Stage 3

The final stage will be the refurbishment of the ground floor of the Clubhouse. It is envisaged that the first floor will remain in operation during the renovation works.

Members will be able to access the first floor through a cordoned off area at the entry. The ground floor works will include upgrading the outdoor roof over and deck.

Can we afford this?

The Club has retained Quantity Surveyors Mitchell Brandtman to cost the refurbishment as proposed.

Excluding the IT system works discussed above, the current cost expectations for the preliminary concepts are in the region of $6.5-$7.5million however, unless and until the full Development Application is prepared and tenders requested, this number is only a best estimate.

With building costs increasing year on year at around 8%, we need to press on with this work if we hope to deliver the whole refurbishment for around this sum.

Your Board will be better placed to assess the cost once the Member feedback is received and any changes to the plans are made. 

Other questions?

If you cannot attend one of the briefing sessions but have a question, please email it to