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The History of Staunton Harold Sailing Club

The Early Years

The club was formed in 1974 by the amalgamation of Three Counties S.C. and Rolls Royce S.C. who previously sailed on the Trent and Leicester S.C. who previously sailed on the Soar near Mountsorrel. The water authorities were not too keen on allowing the reservoir to be used for sailing, but skilful negotiation by Tony Buckley eventually got a lease signed. He was helped in this by Alf Sharman who also drew up plans for the building of the club house. John Walters acted as Master of Works throughout the whole building process which was carried out partly by club members in working parties, chiefly at weekends, and partly by professional help when the Master of Works felt this was needed. The Sports Council gave a grant to help with the finances.

When sailing first started the Starter's Box was a wooden hut near where the pole for the hooter still stands. This was considered an eyesore and the present Starter's Box was erected, again with financial help from the Sports Council. On this occasion John Lees supervised the cutting of the steel girders. To satisfy the fire authorities a Petrol Store had to be built, but by this time the concrete mixers were not available and the mixing had to be done by hand to the satisfaction of Eric Halford. It has stood the test of time. Unfortunately during all this period money was scarce. The grants from the Sports Council had to be supplemented by interest free loans from some members and the formation of a special class of membership called 'Foundation Life Members'. These paid a lump sum in 1974 in return for life membership. The roof of the clubhouse was resurfaced in 1988 and the window frames were replaced with hard wood in 1990.

In the early days sailing had to finish on September 30th. Subsequently permission was obtained to sail until October 30th and later until December 26th. One year sailing continued throughout the winter, but this was not popular. The reservoir froze over, and one enterprising individual went out on to the ice and stole an outboard engine from one of the safety boats moored in the bay. No wooden boat improves by being left in the dinghy park in those conditions. With milder winters being the norm in the early part of the new century, an Icicle series on alternate Sundays was introduced as a trial in January and February of 2004. This proved successful and from 2005 the club has operated a year round sailing programme.

1990s

During 1992 the Management Committee decided to improve the training facilities at the club, recognising the need to encourage new members via a well run and well equipped training school. By securing a significant grant from the Sports Council we were able to purchase a fleet of Laser 13's, sailboards and clothing which has boosted our membership and strengthened our position as a centre of excellence for sailing in the East Midlands area. After providing good service for 12 years, in 2004 the Laser 13's were retired and replaced with a new fleet of RS Vision dinghies. These permit the club to offer the most up to date training courses using modern designed boats, including asymmetric spinnaker handling and trapeze training for crews, considered essential for up and coming younger members.

Later, a fleet of Optimist dinghies was purchased to better enable the club's most successful junior training and weekend camp programme to run more smoothly. Indeed the first years of the millennium saw a dedicated group of volunteers planning and running a programme of junior sailing which had regular attendances of 60 or more children, a level of commitment and enthusiasm from helpers and sailors alike that would have left every other club in the country green with envy! The junior training resulted in many of the club's younger sailors being selected for youth squads and saw many competing at national and international level. At the end of 2006 the Optimist dinghies were retired and replaced by more rugged Optibats.

In addition to just learning to sail, courses are arranged for those who not only enjoy racing, but also feel depressed if they do not win. For these individuals race training is arranged. Watch the notice board for dates and times. In connection with this, anyone who still has a copy of the 1983 Staunton Herald can read an article by Stuart Childerley who at that time was Laser Fleet Captain. In 1988 and 1992 he took 4th place sailing a Finn in the Olympics.

During the winter gales of 1993 we suffered major damage to our rescue Dories when they were blown from their moorings on to the dam wall. This prompted us to review the rescue facilities at the club and the decision was made to purchase two R.I.B. Avon Sea Riders and a Sea Hog safety / work boat that have proved to be highly successful.

In order to safeguard our investment we also decided to embark on the building of a new boat-house which was completed at the end of 1994. This has proved to be a good investment enables us to launch and recover our rescue boats with ease, preserve them in a good condition and reduce maintenance costs. With an ever increasing amount of sailing dates in the calendar and more boats on the water, further new RIB's were added to the fleet of rescue boats in 2006 and 2007, with one of the original RIB's retired after a long and useful operating life.

The New Millenium

During 2002 with the increase in particular of junior sailing, the club purchased an additional moulded plastic training / rescue boat, affectionately know as the "Carrot Boat" due to its colour. In keeping with the move away from oil burning 2 stroke engines, the new boat was equipped with a 4 stroke outboard, as was a second boat known as "ET". Throughout 2003 and 2004 all of the club's motor boats were refitted with four stroke engines.

The winters of 2001-3 saw particularly active closed winter seasons with the erection and refurbishment of a training room located next to the boat house, together with extensive refitting of the changing rooms and showers, and whilst the water was low, the widening and improvements to the slipways. During the winter of 2005-06 the bar and galley were refurbished and refitted. After the bonfire night party of 2008, the dry area, including the bar, was fully refitted to a very high, professional standard. And early in 2010 the wet area was given a complete refurbishment. 

2011 saw the launch for the new club committee boat, "The Misses Crewe", which was funded primarily by a £10,000 grant from Sport England. The boat is fitted out with modern race management aids to allow the OOD and his assistance to manage our racing program much more efficiently and safely from a friendlier environment. Incidentally, the boat's name refers to the three repressed daughters of Sir Vauncey Harpur-Crewe, 10th Baronet Calke Abbey who was a keen ornithologist and who owned the six ponds which were developed into Staunton Harold Reservoir. He turned the whole estate into a bird sanctuary (probably driven by his keener interest in shooting and taxidermy). He hated anything modern, thus sailing on the lake would have been unthinkable. A modern committee boat in the middle of the lake, would be like his daughters defying his repression of them, and hence "The Misses Crewe"!

In two successive years, the club has been awarded £1000 in the Volvo Eco Challenge for environmental projects lead by youngsters in the club. 2010 saw Hannah Jones's success for the new water fountain in the clubhouse and wild flower seeding around the site. And in 2011, Cora Kenmuir-Hogg's award will go towards cavity wall insulation and some double glazing in the clubhouse.

In 2012 the Club was successful in applying for a £50,000 Inspired Faciliities grant from Sport England towards the extension of the clubhouse changing rooms. The construction work was completed in 2013 almost doubling the available changing area allowing a greater number of sailors to be accommodated at sailing events.

A further £10,000 grant was secured in 2012 from Sport England for a new RibX Safety Boat that was purchased at the end of the year. A smaller grant also enabled the Club to acquire and refurbish some additional floating pontoons to provide a safe platform for transferring to and from boats on the water.

In 2014 Staunton Harold S.C. was awarded the prestigious RYA Club of the Year award largely due to the exceptional enthusiasm of its members wanting to share their sport by helping get more of the general public sailing. Indeed the membership almost doubled over the three years leading up to the award.

Striving to improve the training facilities in 2014 the Club was successful in securing a grant from Inspired Facilities for £56,000 towards training room improvements and an extension to the boathouse  to house our coaching powerboats. This work was completed summer 2015.

Our club sailing activities whether social sailing, training or racing continue to increase. Alongside look forward to developing our sailability links in 2016

Together these investments will enable the club to expand its sailing programme, introduce more people to the sport we love and accommodate a larger number of active sailing members as the Club continues to grow.