How it all Began
Once upon a time——-there was a boy who wanted to go sailing.
His grandfather, a sailing man from way back; who had owned and sailed Trading Ketch (like the May Queen) on the Derwent and Huon, lived with them and told stories of the great sailing days. He taught the boy knots and how to splice and took him to meetings of the shiplovers’ society.
But there were problems. His father was away at World War 2 and existing sailing dinghies were expensive heavy plank boats requiring shipwright skills to build them, were heavy and had no flotation chambers; a serious defect in an era where buoyancy vests were filled with cork, heavy, cumbersome, imported and expensive.
In February 1948 the Port Melbourne Yacht Club, as a promotion, flew three Sandridge Sharpies to Tasmania to compete in the Royal Hobart Regatta. These were glued plywood boats with flotation chambers and a crew of three. Fast, safe, exciting boats that could be cheaply built and were ideal for teenagers. Before the start of the first race one boat was deliberately capsized to demonstrate how quickly it could be righted and racing again.
The boy’s father, Alexander (Alec or “A.J”) Steven a skilled Cabinet Maker, now home from the war and a Woodworking Teacher at Hobart Technical School, was impressed and agreed to build him a Sandridge Sharpie. Not only that, he convinced the Education Department to build four more as Hobart Tech projects.
A meeting was convened for interested parties on 1st March 1948 at 501 Sandy Bay Rd to form a Dinghy Club for young people including girls. This was unusual at the time. Sixteen people attended this inaugural meeting and so the Sandy Bay Dinghy Club was formed.
Jack Patterson chaired the first meeting with Alec Stevens as Secretary (the first Life Member of the club). Others present were; Kay Watson, John Morris, D Lipscombe, H Wardrop, H Watson, L Butler, D Wardrop, D Hutchins, G Davis, T Stokes, Brian Steven, J Everet, John Swift and Dudley Shearman.
With the sailing season ending in March and Australian Rules Football dominating the winter months the first race was not held until the next spring. Brian (Barney) Steven’s Sandridge Sharpie “Aqueas” was launched (see photo) in early September with the Club operating out of a Yard on Sandy Bay Rd just behind where the DSS is today (see photo). In those days there was nothing on the beach between Battery Point and Sandy Bay Road except the Ocean baths where the present Rowing sheds are.
That was the start of today’s Sandy Bay Sailing Club
Thanks to Barney Steven, who now lives in Queensland and Bill Cooper, of Juicy Isle, who gave me Barney’s phone number.
Peter Read 16/2/14