Stokes Bay Sailing Club

The Sailing Club was formed in May 1938 a meeting in Gosport Council Chamber was convened to discuss the formation of a Club in Stokes Bay for owners of small boats, as a means of bringing people to the residential district of Alverstoke. The Club’s first regatta was held on Saturday 6 August 1938 inaugurated by the Mayor firing the first guns, and breaking the Club burgee which embodied the town’s colours of blue and gold in vertical sections with a red horizontal bar at the masthead. For its first season the Club operated from Mr Rogers boathouse not far from the present Angling Club. By 1939 membership had grown to 160 and a wooden hut had been acquired as the first clubhouse. In 1942 the Club records were destroyed in an air raid, and in the same year the Club hut was requisitioned for the war effort – it’s exact contribution never having been made public, though it was reputed to as ended up as a shed in a senior officers garden.

In 1946 the Club resumed its activities using the very solid  two-storey building constructed to control the D-Day embarkation secured from the Naval Authorities through the strenuous efforts of Mr J.Fairhall and Mr J.Donnelly. “Bystander I” the first rescue boat was purchased in 1950. In 1952 the Club introduced the Langstone system of handicapping – one of the first Clubs to do so. The Firefly National Championships were held in 1954, attracting over 100 entries, and in 1959 the idea of a special 21st Anniversary race led to the first Pursuit Race.

1960 saw the beginning of catamaran racing with the Club playing an active part in popularising sailing nationally over this period by participating in the organisation of major sailing events as well as being the venue for a series of races for the BBC programme ‘Grandstand’ in the first attempt to present sailing as a spectator sport. The catamaran fleet also acted as extras in a ‘Blue Peter’ programme with John Noakes learning to sail and videos of sailing and sail-boarding were made for a “This is Sport” series. In 1969 the Club hosted the Optimist World Championships.

By the 1970’s membership had grown to over 500, resulting in a need to extend the clubhouse opened by Sir Alec Rose. Throughout the 1970’s the Club hosted many National events, even producing its own National Champions. By the end of the decade board sailing had arrived at Stokes Bay. With membership continuing to grow a second extension was added in 1994 opened by a founder member Mr J.C.Donnelly.