THE POOLE YACHT CLUB 2002 – 2011
(with grateful thanks to all those who have contributed articles to Soundings* over the years)
*Soundings is The Poole Yacht Club house magazine: A full collection of which are available in the Club Office for members to view.
One hundred and fifty years old! The Poole Yacht Club, that is, not Peter Hopper, the Commodore who was elected in March 2002 to follow on from Dave Peters, and the Club set about organising events to celebrate this milestone.
Soundings 2002 contained an updated history of the Club by Laurie Thornton-Grimes, Reminiscences of Poole Harbour and sailing in the early twentieth century from an interview with John Rutter, born in 1899, and a reminder of the time-consuming process of launching at the old clubhouse by Dave Peters. The main anniversary celebrations took place in July 2002, and ‘Soundings 2003’ provides pictures of the 150th Anniversary Regatta and Parade of Sail. This latter event saw more than sixty boats taking part, with the Commodore returning the salute and the Rear Commodore House firing the Club’s cannon as each vessel passed and dipped its ensign. The parade was led by the oldest boat, Alice for Short, built in 1935, while a last-minute addition at the end was Umnitsa, a yacht built and crewed by our Russian friends across the Baltic from St Petersburg, returning to the Club for their third visit.
Aside from these celebrations, a wide range of Club activities have continued to thrive both on and off the water over the past ten years.
Cruiser racing continued on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings, dinghies raced on Monday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings, while Wednesday evening was Junior Section night. The pattern of dinghy racing changed gradually, moving from little racing at weekends to the introduction of Saturday afternoon racing in 2010, which continues to this day.
Open Meetings were held annually by the recognised Club fleets of Ospreys, Yachting World Dayboats, GP14 and Mirrors, to which visiting sailors from all over the country were welcomed. The R19s, who celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2005, (see article by John Lewis in Soundings 2005) continued to hold their annual ‘World’ Championships. The first Dorset Police Regatta was held at the Club in 1974 and has continued to be hosted here ever since.
Also See: Youth Squads
For our younger sailors, weekends provided the opportunity for training and selection for local, regional or national squads in Mirrors, Toppers, Optimists and 420s.
There has also been fierce competition to compete for a place in the annual Commodores’ Challenge. This event was started in 1995 when David Bennett and Eric Scoble, the then Commodores of Poole and Parkstone Yacht Clubs respectively, challenged each other. The Challenge enables young sailors to acquire a ‘feel’ of big boat sailing and learn the tactics of match racing. The 10th Anniversary of this event was celebrated in 2005 (see article in Soundings 2005 by Jenny Llewellyn). The competition has continued annually on 27th December ever sinceand up to 2012 the results are 12 wins for Poole, 6 for Parkstone.
The Youth Section has always tried to extend the experience of the sport they so enjoy to others who have not had the same opportunity to try sailing at first hand. The RYA OnBoard Scheme took off first some five years ago with pupils from Haymoor Middle School enjoying a day ‘messing about in boats’ and hopefully taking advantage of further sail training through the Club. Another aspect of this type of activity was the outings arranged by the Section for siblings of children looked after by Julia’s House, so that they could have some quality time and enjoyment for themselves. This, too, proved very popular with all participants, and equally rewarding for the teams who arranged it.
Racing away from the Club
Poole members continued to support PYRA (Poole Yacht Racing Association) in races to destinations such as Weymouth, Dartmouth, the Isle of Wight, Cherbourg, St Vaast and the Channel Islands. Numbers of PYC boats took part in the annual Round the Island Race with varying degrees of success or calamity.
Another event which was inaugurated as a Millennium Regatta in 2000 and has taken place every two years since then is the Keelboat Regatta, organised and run by the Combined Clubs of Poole. Members have also taken part in Cork Week, the Commodore’s Cup, the Fastnet Race and other exciting racing events across the world.
In addition to these events for larger boats, many members continued to travel to take part in National and European Championships for their particular class of dinghy elsewhere in the country or abroad.
See: Rising stars
2006 dawned with the announcement that Lucy Macgregor and Annie Lush of Parkstone Yacht Club were to join Shirley Robinson in her bid for a third Gold Medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The team was unfortunately not selected but Lucy and Annie were joined by Lucy’s sister Kate and went on to conquer the world in Match Racing events and represented Great Britain in the Olympic Match Racing in 2012.
Of course, for some people it is not the winning, but the doing that is most important. The Cruising Section continued their rally programme to places such as Lymington, Yarmouth, Weymouth, Cowes, Cherbourg and the Channel Islands. Individuals also explored the farther-flung waters of the world. Accounts in Soundings tell of visits made by members – either with their own boats or through chartering – to Australia, Borneo, the Mediterranean, various parts of the USA, Qatar, the Caribbean, France, the Ionian Sea, the Channel islands, the West Country, the Isles of Scilly, Croatia, Gibraltar, the Canaries, the English canals, the Grenadines, Holland, Belgium, West Indies, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
The Cruising Section was also strongly represented in the International Festival of the Sea in Portsmouth 2005 to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.
Volunteering at the Club
One thing the Club could not continue to function without is its wide range of volunteers in addition to those who hold specific posts in the Club. Those of you reading this who have never volunteered for anything – please do so now. Apart from the enjoyment you will get form being involved, the number of volunteers who come forward to help is completely disproportionate to the number of members who belong to the Club – and at times puts at risk the ability of the Club to run certain events.
Sailing volunteers continue to ensure that Club racing could actually take place. Without them, there just would not be any! Teams 'manned' the Race Hut, or Committee Boat, for every sailing event under the watchful eye of the Duty Race Officer. Once again, more volunteers are always needed and are trained and welcomed!
Volunteer Race Officers
Fortunately, the Club has a number of volunteers who have all undergone training for the different categories of Race Officer. To date, the Club has
23 Club Race Officers, 8 Regional Race Officers and 4 National Race Officers. There are 6 Race Officers currently in Training and 5 ‘Deputy’ Race Officers.
The Principal Race Officer has provided the following definitions, for any one else wishing to train and get involved in sailing organisation in the Club.
Club Race Officer Course – a one day ‘entry level’ day. There is no exam, no experience necessary, and it is a good introduction day.
Regional Race Officer Qualification: attendance at a 2 day Seminar with an open book exam, plus Race Management experience of a number of events and references. Renewal required every 4 years with a CV.
National Race Officer Course: a two day course with a closed book exam, plus Race Management experience at senior level and a number of detailed references required. Renewal every 4 years when a detailed CV has to be submitted.
Volunteers have also gained RIB driving qualifications and Safety Certificates, to ensure that competitors out on the water have the maximum protection the Club can provide. The Club is fortunate in continuing to have the expertise of the volunteer trainers who ensure that our safety teams are well equipped to help, whatever the emergency.
The Tuesday Night Ladies
Those who indulge in cruiser racing on Tuesday nights have long been appreciative of the Ladies Team who have run the racing for them every week for a very long time now. This team has been in existence since at least 1989, and ladies such as Pat Hopper, Joan Bennett, Gill Milner, Jean Hann, Jean Morgan, Jean Blakeston, Joy Segal, Jaye Lawson, Jenny Peters, Maureen Swift, Val Cobb, Ann Welford, Gladys Fallon, Maggie Horsford, Melle Laing, Val Brown, Audrey Gill all played – or indeed continue to play – a vital role in Tuesday Night Cruiser Race organisation.
Of late, however, the team has admitted selected males into their team, and John Yonwin and Laurie Thornton-Grimes are currently assisting the team on Tuesdays. It is rumoured that scores are awarded each week for their performance, though the outcome remains a closely guarded secret!
Harbour Watch Volunteers
For many years now, yet another group of unsung volunteers have wrapped up warm and endured the cold and the rain in an effort to maintain the safety of boats in the Haven and in the Harbour. Working in conjunction with Poole Harbour Watch, the Harbour Authority and the Marine Section of the local Police force, volunteers provide a presence on Club premises, utilising the CCTV system through the night reporting any incidents to the Police. During the sailing season, volunteers also carry out boat watch patrols, involving the surveillance of moored vessels. Once again, more volunteers are always required.
Building Improvements and Extensions
Such was the success of our social side that we outgrew our lounge and kitchen!
So in 2008 the original kitchen was moved and enlarged to provide much-improved facilities for producing the wide range of meals. Members Addi Obied and Aubry Bugden were responsible for the planning of the move which proceeded with little disruption.
This was followed by a period of major refurbishment under John Lewis's leadership (2008/2011), with soon to be Rear Commodore House Barrie Lovelock taking the major hands-on role of Honorary Site Manager. The projects included an extended Clubroom, a larger balcony, enlarged Office, revitalised Ladies and Gents toilets and changing rooms, the addition of a disabled toilet upstairs and a lift to all floors.
Teams of volunteer members carefully dismantled the old walls brick by brick to save and clean for reuse thus giving an identical match to the exterior of the new build. Working with our Yard Hands they demolished the old Cadet Room, they re-clad and painted the Haven Office, sanded, primed and painted all the changing room seating etc.
May 2010 saw the Grand Opening of the new Skylight Lounge by John Lewis. This extra space has enabled events to take place without restricting members’ use of the Club lounge and provides additional accommodation for lunches, dinners etc., and a separate facility for the smaller functions. The new Sailing Academy also opened its doors to a range of activities including the Race Office for sailing events, training, discos and meetings.
During this period we negotiated with PHC the lease of a triangle of land adjacent to the main gates, this scheme added additional car parking and offering long-term winter storage for our members.
Social and Section activities
The social scene was as lively as ever. Club Revues remained a popular hunting ground for talent scouts and were held in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
The Social Committee continued to provide a range of interesting events each month, from the traditional New Year’s Eve party, to celebrations of Burns, St George, Hallowe’en, the Annual Dinner and Dance, themed nights, Cabaret evenings and anything else they could think of as an excuse to have a party.
Film Night, Ladies Night, Meal Deals and talks ensure the Clubhouse is alive with activity throughout the week.
Smarties Challenge Competition
This took the form of an annual event between Poole and Parkstone, in which teams of youngsters under the tireless Chairmanship of Trevor Foster, answered questions ranging from the name of Santa’s reindeer to the ‘force’ of a wind of 22 knots. In 2001, Poole emerged victorious, and again in 2003. No challenge was held in 2004, while 2005 saw the host club, Poole, lose to the challengers, Parkstone. A couple of adult teams also couldn’t resist having a go, and the adults from Poole won.
The Bridge Club was started in 2009 and continues to meet on Wednesday evenings.
The Art Club meets on Wednesday mornings. An exhibition of members’ paintings was held in September 2004. Accompanied by Posh Frocks and Pimms a further exhibition was mounted in 2011 in conjunction with the Commodore’s Coffee Morning in aid of Julia’s House.
Ladies Night was originally started by Maureen Lee and Molly Venison. It continued to meet on Mondays every winter throughout the decade and provided a very wide range of interesting speakers and topics for its members – see various years of Soundings for reports of their meetings.
All Balls and Pointy Sticks – or snooker to the rest of us. In Soundings 2002, Steve ‘Davis’ Winchcombe dealt with the history of billiards and snooker, and went on to praise the ‘green baize brigade’ who saved the clubhouse from becoming like the Marie Celeste on winter evenings, inviting other members to come and join in.
Competition for the two snooker trophies in the Club continued to be fierce. The Radford Trophy was first awarded in 1949, and is thought to have been presented by a member called J Radford, though the exact origins appear to have faded into the mists of green baize. The Newton Cup was presented by Bob Newton and first awarded in 1974. The snooker list of winners for both trophies which appeared in Soundings 2003 has now been updated. (List Here)
Thursday Quiz Nights were started around 1999 by Jane Lewis. In 2003, she reported in Soundings that they had averaged six teams per week with up to eight team members. Teams each provided questions and answers for a week, with the series culminating in an evening of questions provided by the bar staff. One of the most popular rounds that time was ‘guess the wine and cheese’! The winners that year were the Anoraks. Barry Southam, Captain of the Anoraks, provided an article in Soundings 2005 on Quizzes and Quicksteps, which highlighted the entertainment enjoyed by many on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Club.
Roll forward to 2007 and Soundings 2008 sports a picture of the Team Captain of – yes, the Anoraks – receiving the trophy from Margaret Edge, now the organiser of these events. The report indicated that up to twenty teams arrived to do battle each week – and still growing!
28 teams enrolled for the '12-'13 season, that's over 160 people every Thursday!
Wooden and Classic Boat Section
There was another sail past during the decade, with the Skipper Tony Hazell taking the salute and Laurie Thornton-Grimes firing the cannon, as the Wooden and Classic Boat Section celebrated their tenth anniversary. The decade had been marked by a range of activities, talks and outings organised by the Section. A major annual event has been the Trafalgar Night Dinner, run on naval lines by the Section for any Club members who wish to attend.
2004 saw the death of Bob Newton, a man who had done so much to pioneer the early days of the Club with his foresight and business acumen. He was Commodore for 17 years and tributes to him by Paul Newton and Doug Reeves can be found in Soundings 2005.
Websites are now such a part of our lives that it is amazing to think that our Club website only entered cyberspace in 1999, largely through the efforts of Graham Baraclough. The addition of a Members’ Forum was requested at the AGM in 2004 – and by 2005 only one item had been submitted! Since then, the use and range of the website has steadily increased as a means of communication to members, culminating in the launch of a new website in March 2012.
This decade saw some changes in the office. Paul Birkin was appointed General Manager in 2002, Colin Ewing replaced him in January 2003 and our current General Manager, Mark Fulton, joined us in 2006.
The reputation of our catering has increased over the years, and our current Chef, SteveHowardcontinues to enhance its good name, providing excellent food for a range of events from Friday Chef’s Nights to Club Race Night food, lunches seven days a week and catering for private functions.
During this time our Manager Mark, together with the House Bar and Catering team, turned losses on bar and catering into a break even and subsequently small surplus.
It has become traditional for the Commodore to sponsor a favourite charity, to which club members contribute by various means.
In this decade, the charities were as follows:
Peter Hopper – Julia’s House
Colin Rainback – Cleft Lip & Palate Association
John Lewis – Cancer Research, Alzheimer’s Research, Parkinson’s Research
Laurie Thornton-Grimes (to date) – Julia’s House, ‘Sparkle’ – Victoria School
Master Plan for the Harbour
The Harbour Commissioners launched their Master Plan for the Harbour in 2010, which included a proposal to build a 900-berth marina either by extending the Poole Quay Boat Haven or to build a new marina complex to the west of our Club. Discussions between the Flag Officers and the Commissioners were initiated and are still continuing; the results of initial environmental studies indicated that extending the Boat Haven option was preferred.
Other events of the decade…
• Additional moorings were purchased from the Harbour Commissioners in 2008 to increase facilities for members owning boats
• The old Dayboat Pontoon was removed in 2009 and replaced by a new commercial one, which could be adapted to provide summer berths for Dayboats and winter storage for cruisers
• A rolling Haven Maintenance Programme was set in place; we purchased three additional fingers so that we could set in motion a full and ongoing refurbishment of all haven fingers
• Gate cards were issued to all members in 2006 to allow access and for use as payment over the bar
• £50 of every full subscription was put on to the white cards to spend in the Clubhouse in 2010.
• A new store was added by the side of the Yard Hut to store race marks
A new pontoon was added for RIBs
• Our Russian friends sailed from St Petersburg to Poole in 2002 and 2005
• Mallard duck eggs were laid on Peter Pickering’s boat in 2007 and were successfully reared at home by Maisy the hen!
• Mike Robinson presented with an RYA Regional Award by the Princess Royal in November 2010
• We saved £1,000s by purchasing the Boat Hoist
• Members repaired, shortened and repainted the flagstaff to relocate it on the newly extended balcony