VALE PETER RUSSELL by Peter Forster, with help from Peter Russell
Almost certainly, Peter Russell was the last survivor of the earliest members of the Canberra Yacht Club (CYC). Peter arrived in Canberra in 1957 to work for CSIRO. As a 14 foot skiff sailor in Adelaide since the 1940s he was delighted to find a couple of years after his arrival in Canberra that the CYC was formed (in 1959) with a view to sailing on Lake Burley Griffin in due course.
Sadly, Peter passed away on 31 October 2022, at the age of 94, having had health issues for several years as well as the complication of Mary, his wife, having dementia.
Peter has an enviable sailing history in Canberra. Over the years, he was a member of both the CYC and the YMCASC. Initially, he sailed NS14s, winning the hotly contested ACT championship on five occasions from 1968-69 to 1975-76. In 1975 he moved into the Flying 15 class and with youngest son, Philip as crew, won the again hotly contested ACT championship on 11 occasions, and the Club championship 12 times, between 1979-80 and 1999-2000. He was CYC Yachtsman of the Year in 1976 and 2000. He moved on to a trailable yacht in 2000 with a Castle 650, named Rustler, like his Flying 15s, winning the Marley Point race in 2001.
Peter was also involved in Club administration from as early as 1961 when he was in the starting team for the Club’s first major regatta, the Lake George Regatta, on 30 Sept. – 1 Oct. 1961. His head can be seen in the photo of the starting team on the starters raft – see the back cover of the Lake George to Lake Burley Griffin book. He was one of the volunteers who helped build the YMCASC building.
Subsequently Peter served on the General Committee of the CYC for several years, then as Club Captain for two years (1969-71), Vice Commodore (1973-74), and Rear Commodore Sailing for two years (1985-87). He was President of the ACT Flying 15 Association for four years from 1988 and was made a Life Member in 2006. As well as competing locally Peter and his crew, Philip, travelled many times to compete in Australian championship events.
Peter and Mary have left a wonderful legacy with their three sons sailing over the years – eldest son Peter was very involved with the Mirror Dinghy fleet for many years and more recently with the 2.4mRs – and as a result, four Russell grandchildren have been involved in sailing also. For more information, read the Three Rustler Generations on Lake Burley Griffin on page 180 of the Capital Sailing 1959-2009 book.
3 November 2022