Vale Ian Whelan

Published Thu 30 May 2024

The Club has lost one of its great supporters with the passing of a club stalwart Ian Whelan. The Club extends its sincere condolences to his wife Dawn and family.


Ian’s connection with the Williamstown Sailing Club began when Ian and his son Aaron started sailing together on a 125 back in 1994. Unfortunately, a “meeting” with a keel boat resulted in a “sinking feeling” and a DNF. They were soon back on the water after the guilty keel boat owner provided a replacement boat. Ian also had a short stint crewing on the Hartley 16’s winning the Australian Championship and skippered and crewed on Kitty Catamarans. Ian sailing adventures included crewing (with a number of other WSC club members) on a keel boat doing numerous Wednesday twilight sails and Bay events as well as the Melbourne to Launceston Race and King Island races. Finally, Ian purchased an Explorer which unfortunately coincided with the onset of his health issues.

His sailing career did have its “ups & downs”, such as being a National Champion in Hartley’s and the 125 incident, but probably the worst of all, during a Melbourne- Launceston practice night sail, on a wild gybe, Ian was hit by the boom which badly fractured his clavicle resulting in hospitalisation on his birthday (Dawn was not Happy!).  But this never dampened his enthusiasm for sailing.

In addition to his sailing activities Ian served in almost every role at the Club, including Commodore. He was, until recently, an active sailor and an avid working bee attendee always showing conviction, drive, enthusiasm and motivating those around him. Apart from donating his time, he also donated a variety of tools and equipment to the Club. Even though he was a sailor, he was one of the longest and most active members doing Mooring inspections and replacement work for the benefit of the fishermen in the Club.

Ian would at times tell stories of living on French Island and some exciting adventures on the family owned “Army Duck”. In later years he refers to having spent some time in the auto industry and it is no surprise as he was very knowledgeable and handy on most things automotive and mechanical, skills he put to good use at the sailing club.  Ian would also tell stories of his time in the Police Force doing all the usual things, including highway patrol work on the Westgate freeway and Princes highway, where he had some very amusing encounters with both motorists and Court Judges in his efforts to get a conviction.

There was no doubt that Ian “loved” the Williamstown Sailing Club, but above all, his greatest commitment was to wife and family. He and Dawn never missed a Club social function or gathering even in the most recent times where he relied on a wheel chair. Many members have commented on how “welcoming” Ian was to new and existing members, and it is no wonder that he received Life Membership for this passion and commitment.

It was only a few weeks ago that he came down to Club, with Dawn, just to meet old and new friends, hear the latest news and just talk. It is those talks over the past 30 or so years, that we will greatly miss!! 

We will miss you Ian
Les Kiss / Ian McGrath



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