The Origins of the Milang to Goolwa Race
“My boat is faster than your boat”
Two of the more colourful characters in Goolwa in the sixties were Bill Appleby and Bill Ballard, who owned the yachts Esther and Edith.
They were constantly arguing about whose yacht was the fastest on the river.
To settle the argument a ‘decent’ race was planned and sailed on 27 December 1966. Originally sailed from Goolwa to Milang, it was destined to become Australia’s biggest freshwater race.
The two yachts were very evenly matched in those days and for the first three (years) races the biggest winning margin was three and a half minutes with the closest margin being 12 seconds. Esther won the first two, Edith the third.
From this point in yachting history, other boats joined in to firmly establish this race as yachting classic. As the race went on, more and more sailors joined in and eventually the schedule was changed to allow for the race to finish in its original home of Goolwa.
It has since established itself as a South Australian yachting classic, The Milang-Goolwa Freshwater Classic
First contested by two boats in 1966, the Freshwater Classic still holds the record as the largest freshwater yacht race in the southern hemisphere when 584 boats competed in 1986. However the 50km race was abandoned from 2007-2011 because there was not enough water in the Lower Lakes as a result of the Millennium drought, which parched much of Australia and saw the River Murray reach record lows.
After 49 races GRYC is now poised to run its
50th Milang-Goolwa Freshwater Classic
Entry forms are available on the Race Entry page