Geographe Bay Sailing Club co-founder Les Peaker passes away aged 95

Vale: Co-founder of the Geographe Bay Sailing Club Les Peaker passed away on December 27, 2021. Picture: Supplied.

Vale: Co-founder of the Geographe Bay Sailing Club Les Peaker passed away on December 27, 2021. Picture: Supplied.

Sadly we inform members that our highly respected Vice Patron and Co-founder Leslie Peaker passed away peacefully on December the 27th age 95.

It was Les together with his good friend and fellow sailing enthusiast Bob Bleakley who founded the Club in 1958. Bob as our first Commodore and Les as inaugural secretary and organiser. He often told us of the first day of organised racing with a card table and umbrella on the beach at West St. So successful were they that the next week two tables were needed.

First regatta was held on Australia Day 1959 with help from Koombana Bay Sailing Club , the boats racing included HW Sharpies VJs and small catamarans.

Those were the days when it was only real men that sailed HW Sharpies or so later members were told.

Les negotiated with the shire for the first buildings on WAGR land at West St and later with Minister Stewart Bovell for our King Street site. He served our Club as Commodore four times, Vice Commodore five times, Rear Commodore and inaugural Secretary /Treasurer. Les was the son of Peaker and Son Busselton cabinet makers and a very talented wood worker.

In the early days of the Club he oversaw the mass building of Bluebird and Moth yachts for member use and in later years made many of the trophies.

He built several yachts, Grace, Lady Betty and a LW Sharpie Banyanda. Ted Francis remembers at the official measuring it was found to be too light and a bit beamy.

Enquiring where the oversized point was Les quickly produced a small hand plane and shaved down the offending gunwales.

Bill Biggs former crew with Skipper Les on Lady Clara his six metre Space Sailer remembers him as a warm and canny skipper, very good to windward.

Legendary are the stories of the rivalry with his old friends Ronnie Forster, Jim Lofthouse, Ted Francis and Tren Fahey on Salty a Sorcerer. Jim observed that Les tried to convince others he was not competitive and only sailed for pleasure . However put a tiller in his hand and Capt Bligh tendencies became evident especially if Ronnie Forster was close.

His twin sons Wes and Kim followed their Dad into sailing, Kim becoming a senior international race official

Les competed interstate in Sharpies, finished building a yacht with Ron in Tasmania which they then sailed back to WA. Organised a club trailer sailer trip up the Blackwood to Chapman Brook. He sailed with Roy and Di Farmer on The Imp to Sydney and three times with other trailer sailers to Mandurah and up the Murray R.

For his considerable contributions to the community in the Uniting Church, Brass Band ,Yachting and the annual wildflower exhibition he won the 2007 Festival of Busselton Pioneer award.

Les was recognised with Life Membership in 1968 and later in a continuing role as Vice Patron. He kept a keen interest in the Club right up to recent years when he would watch the racing from his mobility scooter at the boat ramp .

Once ashore he would give us the benefit of his advice.

Last November he appreciated seeing a photo of the boat/tractor shed revamp carried out by the volunteers.

One of the very last links with our early history has gone. We send our grateful thanks for Les' contribution and our sad condolences to Shirley, Wes and Kim with their families.

- Geographe Bay Sailing Club