On Sunday 2 November the Redhouse Yacht Club hosted a number of ex-commodores at a luncheon to celebrate RYC’s 110 year anniversary. What a treat to watch the eyes of long ago Commodores sparkle with enthusiasm as they rekindled old memories and friendships over a frosty or three before the slap up lunch provided by the ladies of the club.
RYC was founded on 24 October 1904, when 16 gentlemen met at the Zwartkops Rowing Club in the little Village of Redhouse, under the chairmanship of Mr R.P. Jones, to inaugurate a sailing club at Redhouse. Mr J.C. Carden (the first manager of a Springbok Rugby team to tour the UK) proposed that the name of the club should be “Redhouse Sailing Club”, seconded by Mr T.V. Paterson. At the very next meeting (4 December 1904) the name was changed to “Redhouse Yacht Club” to avoid clashing with the existing “Redhouse Swimming Club”.
The first Committee consisted of: Commodore – Mr R.P. Jones; Secretary/Treasurer- Mr T.V. Paterson; Mr E. Marks; Mr A.E. Griffiths and Mr J.C. Carden.
The land around the club has changed much in the last couple of decades. As Brian Reynolds explained; “There used to be a creek alongside the Southern side of the present clubhouse with a wooden bridge leading to a slipway with a capstan to retrieve the boats.” Brian also reminisced about how the youngsters from the village used to fight to be part of any crew that sailed – even being a “bailer-boy” was seen as a step up. Those left behind would then fight to operate the capstan to retrieve the boats with thin cries going out; “Mr Kohler, I will look after your boat!”
Over the years the channel of the Swartkops River has narrowed somewhat and the size of the boats and crew that ply up and down the river have gotten smaller – in the years after the Second World War sailing on the river exploded with Sharpies, Sprogs, Sailing Canoes, Dabchicks, Flying Dutchmen, Finns, Wingers, Tempos and Fireballs taking to the water. Fortunately the demand for faster boats with less crew grew alongside the shrinking river space and in the last 30 years one man one class design boats – lighter and faster – such as the Laser and Optimist have made their appearance with many a Springbok sailor laying claim to having learned how to sail in the river. To this day sailing on the river teaches the aspirant sailor how to tack, read current and sail against the tides – a magnificent teaching ground.
The sport of sailing is all the richer for dedicated clubs such as Redhouse Yacht Club who keep the sport alive and vibrant. Regular interclub sailing events against younger sibling, ABYC (at 55 years of age), have been extremely successful and sailed on the Zwartkops River, in the Port of Port Elizabeth and on North End Lake in the shadow of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
As in all ‘Cinderella’ sports the Redhouse committee members and Exco are volunteers who dedicate their lives (and money) to promoting their sport and wider communities for no monetary gain and only in the name of ‘fostering sailing’.
Here’s to another 110 Years!
Related: Not many people know that the Sprog was designed by one of Port Elizabeth’s own, see here – HMS Hecla and Herbert McWilliams – for more about the Sprog.
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