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Home / The Club / Our History
Home / The Club / Our History

Our History

Itchenor Sailing Club was formed in 1927 by: B.S. Mends, a former naval surgeon (elected as the First Commodore); J.A. Gilbert, a banker for the Bank of Bengal, India; J.G. Griffiths, a young sailor with considerable inheritance and world sailing experience; L.U. Lear, a Lloyds underwriter; E.E. Peel (of The Peel Cup) and S. Ponder, a stockbroker.

The first AGM was held in 1928 with 68 people jointly elected as Founder Members each paying 10/6 entrance fee and 10/6 annual subscription (about £30 each in today's money).

It was agreed the Club will:

  1. Encourage all forms of yachting and boat sailing by amateurs
  2. Encourage yacht and boat racing of all descriptions by the promotion of races and giving of prizes and by any other means which may from time to time be determined by the Club.

In 1931 the Club acquired Mrs Wake's cottage for the sum of £1,625 giving the Club an official base. John and George Haines laid the moorings of Itchenor reach and the Haines family have been responsible for maintenance ever since.

The Royal Corinthian Affair

In May 1937 The Commodore, G.E. Morris, announced the probability of RCYC starting a branch at or near Itchenor (at the Shipyard or in Smugglers Lane), suggesting this would be disastrous for the Club. He had been in talks with the Commodore of RCYC and proposed a referendum on merger of the Clubs. The vote took place in July with 93 voting for and 103 against the merger, a divisive idea with a split decision which divided the Club. Whilst drama unfolded at ISC, the RCYC had decided to proceed with an alternative Thorney Island site so a merger was no longer on the table. Shortly thereafter, the RAF proceeded with the construction of RAF Thorney Island and the whole RCYC plan in its entirety was aborted.

In the Spring of 1940 the Club closed rather hurriedly after Dunkirk as it was situated in a restricted area. During the War all memberships were transferred to the absent list and subscriptions reduced. Parts of the premises were requisitioned by the Army. Anti-Invasion Forces were posted all over the Selsey Peninsula and later the whole club was requisitioned by the Admiralty in connections with preparations for D-DAY.

Racing resumed post-war in 1946 although there were rumblings and considerable differences of opinion within the hierarchy, particularly in relation to the No Dogs rule. Despite this, ISC's international reputation for dinghy sailing excellence flourished. Contenders from Netherlands, Portugal and even Brazil travelled to ISC for Trophy competitions.

In 1948 Stewart Morris was appointed as an honorary Life Member following his Gold Medal win in the London Olympics. Many of the UK Olympic dinghy team hailed from ISC including David Bond.

Vernon Stratton won the Finn Gold Medal and World Championships in 1950 and in 1952, ISC provided 9 out of 20 finalists in the Dinghy classes for the Helsinki Olympics with Charles Currey bringing home a silver medal.

Club Policy in respect of new members was updated:

  1. To encourage youngsters keen on sailing
  2. To recruit for the established classes
  3. To provide crewing members
  4. To welcome family members

In 1957 a helicopter crash, which could have spelled the end for an almost completed Club rebuild, tragically killed Sir Francis Mellerah on the jetty.

Continuing their sailing dominance, the International 14ft races visited Bermuda in 1963 with three out of the four UK crews hailing from ISC.

In 1967 a huge party was hosted for the 21st birthday of the Fireflies. Guests included Uffa Fox and his wife. Exceptional weather meant that all 175 guests could enjoy dinner on the terrace. This was the first large party held at the Club and forerunner for many more events.

Ian Macdonald Smith was awarded The Mends Cup in recognition of his Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. ISC was also represented by Vernon Stratton who managed the British Sailing Team and Pepe and Hugh Way who assisted him.

In 1974 John Burnford became the first active Cruiser to be elected as Commodore, at the same time, Fiji Grant donated Betivuka to the Club for use as a committee boat.

For the Club's Golden Jubilee in 1977 a ball was held at the Club with more than 330 people attending in a spectacular marquee erected on the lawn, yachts are moored and dressed with lights. The Jubilee Room extension was completed early the following year.


Read the wonderful "A History of Itchenor Sailing Club 1927 - 1981.pdf", written by Tony Wright (Admiral 1970 - 1985)

Last updated 12:03 on 14 May 2020

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