History of the Gunfleet Sailing Club
The Gunfleet Sailing Club was formed in 1961 by a group of former Clacton on Sea Sailing Club members. The Clacton Sailing Club (CSC) had been based, since its formation in 1951, at a small site at the base of the Holland on Sea cliffs, opposite Hazlemere Road. The compound was sheltered from weather but yet was very close to the water’s edge. Such was the popularity of CSC that in 1961 it moved to a new and much larger site at Holland Haven with a compound set back some 100 yards from the sea. This was ideal for the modern dinghy and catamaran sailor, particularly those that enjoyed racing, but the more traditional sailor, with the heavier clinker boats, realised that the original site at Hazlemere Road was, for them, far more suitable. So a breakaway group formed Gunfleet Sailing Club and in 1962 obtained the lease of the Hazlemere Road site. The members soon built a smart little clubhouse and installed an electric winch to ease still further the launching and recovery of their craft, and settled down to the sport of “simply messing about in boats”.
The members of the Gunfleet always recognised that the physical space available limited the size of the Sailing Club but they saw this as a strength. With around 100 members maximum this ensured that there was great camaraderie and a real commitment to support the Club and its activities. During the 1960’s the Clubhouse was extended and changing facilities built. The Club started running a few light-hearted races as well as organising cruises but the fundamental basis still remained of social sailing. As well as the Sea Ranger class of dinghy, which had been established on the site in 1954 and remained ever since, and a variety of other clinker dinghies, there appeared a small number of Fleetwinds and for many years during the ‘60’s the Class Association held the Fleetwind East Coast Championships at Gunfleet.
In the 1970’s the Fleetwind class grew and was joined by several Mayflies. A little later on the younger members of the Club started sailing the single handed Toy class and a large fleet was established at Gunfleet. The Club also managed to expand a little with a modest compound extension to the west of the main site. In the 1980’s the Club welcomed a windsurfing section but this was to fade out by the 1990’s. The Club saw the Fleetwinds and Mayflies replaced by Lasers, Toppers and Mirrors, as well as a mix of other classes, modern and more traditional. The sailing programme was expanded to provide regular racing, whilst the Club never forgot the cruising side and those that didn’t feel the need for competitive water sports.
In the 21st century the Club has never been stronger, with the latest high-tech craft comfortably rubbing shoulders with the traditional clinker boats. Several of the members look back with fondness to the very beginning of the Club but equally look forward to the next 50 years or so.
A history of the Gunfleet Sailing Club, Clacton Sailing Club and Gunfleet Boating Club has now been published. Illustrated with pictures of all three Clubs the book is available by clicking on the words "contact us" at the end of the next paragraph.
If you have any old photographs or memoriabilia relating to the Club please contact us