VALE Brian Jennings

Article Members

Sadly, our Life Member Brian Jennings passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Tuesday 14 April 2020, only a few months short of his 90th birthday.

Brian was born in 1930 during the Great Depression, and was brought up in the then wide open spaces of North Balwyn. During World War II, Brian was moved to the Dandenongs for several years to avoid the consequences of a possible invasion from the Japanese.

Brian commenced his sailing career at about 18, competing in a Paine Mortlock. He was an Australian Championship winner. In those days, yachtsman built their own boats and Brian built several A Class catamarans. He also built the boat he rowed down the full length of the Murray River when he turned 70.

Brian was educated as a pharmacist. He met Meran at Pharmacy College and they went on to own and operate two chemist shops during a long career in his chosen profession.

At 60, Brian retired from pharmacy and spent a decade with Meran establishing the most picturesque house, garden, wetlands and vineyard at Red Hill. It was always a great pleasure to visit and sample the fruits of their labour.

Brian and Meran produced four fine children – Suzanne, Stephen, Rick and Kate, all BYS sailors – and now there are eight grandchildren.

The Jennings family came to Blairgowrie around 1970. They joined BYS and built with their own hands their first house in Macfarlan Avenue.

The family sailed a Top Hat keelboat in those days, but Brian’s real passion was sailing A Class catamarans. He was a pioneer of the Class. Many of us became great competitors and friends over these years, with plenty of competition on the water and conviviality at the boat shed afterwards.

His A Class career spanned several decades and he was generally regarded as the leader of the fleet. In January 1987, Brian chaired and competed in the highly successful A Class World Championships at BYS. He served on the BYS General Committee around that time. Several of us, ably led by Brian, installed the rounding marks in the water, removed them, and serviced them every season. Together on the water we also managed many BYS-hosted championships.

Brian was extremely competitive on the water and he hated getting beaten. His main objective every season was to win the Stardust Trophy, in which he succeeded several times, followed by the Class Aggregate Trophy. Other races were to be sailed to be won, but they didn’t matter much to Brian. In 1986, Brian actually taught me to sail from scratch in my first A Class. I have overheard a number of members say that based on my sailing he must have been a very poor teacher!

For a decade or so around the 1990s, Brian convened and successfully conducted the BYS sail training program and won many friends and supporters, especially among the juniors and their parents.

Brian was awarded Life Membership not long after retiring from sail training – a fitting reward for his dedication to sail training and many other contributions to BYS over decades.

Following A Class, Brian acquired and sailed the keelboat Mallana, and from memory won the Pinto one year (which I will check when BYS re-opens).

During his retirement years Brian spent many winters in Far North Queensland with his companion Penny Mountain, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Brian was a good man, he had a very good life, and will be missed by many at BYS.

Farewell young fella.
Mike Trumble