Around late 1966, early 67, a group of forward thinking people got together with the idea of forming a water sports club.
They met at the old Van Riebeek Hotel in Gordons Bay. Among this group was Major Dougie Van Riet, Ernie Magson, Dr “Porky” Falconer and his wife Barbara.
The idea of forming a club was to promote water sports, but as it turned out, the main water sport was power boating, the racing type of power boating! Both Ernie and Porky were keen racing enthusiasts, with the Major being a keen motor car racer. However he had at this time turned his attentions to the sea.
As it turns out, Major Dougie van Riet was the first elected Commodore of the club in 1968 with Barbara Falconer the elected treasurer, a position she held until 1993.
Racing the big cigar boats in those heady days of cheap fuel was extremely competitive, with the Falconer family taking most of the spoils in the bigger class power boats, triangular courses were set from Gordons Bay to Roman rock, around Seal Island and back. Races were also held with some brave soul hanging on to a long rope at the back of the boat with a single plank under his feet (ski) to Simonstown and back!! Crazy!
Most of the events at GBYAC (Gordons Bay Yacht and Aquatic Club as it was known then) were sponsored by Telefunken and Henesey Brandy! Are these two companies still around??
Of course in the 70’s petrol restrictions were imposed by the government and the wonderful days of massive cigar boats racing around the bay ended. It was about this time that yachties like Mike Dunn, Peter Richards and company got involved and slowly the idea of sailing was re introduced to Gordons Bay. Sailing grew rapidly in the club, particularly with the demise of the racing power boats. Soon we had a strong fleet of Flamencas and Buccaneers, two classes that many of todays sailors cut there teeth on. It was a few years later when a few members decided to invest in newer racing yachts, we welcomed 4 L26’s and 4 Sweetpeas to the club, 3 of which are still sailing today because of the efforts of Joe Van Der Westhuisen.
During the late 80’s, Mike Dunn had the vision of leasing both the ground and water space to build a new club house, he started negotiations with the departments, did some sketch drawings and in 1989 we eventually started construction of the present clubhouse. It was at about the same time the the clubs name was changed to Gordons Bay Yacht Club, fortunately we retained the strong original constitution which had proved itself over and over again.
In May 1991, the new club house was opened and suddenly the rush started, we went from roughly 48 members in the old wooden shed to over 200 within the space of 6 months. The public were scrambling to become members of the Yacht Club. Over the years a few changes were made to the internal structure of the club building. The area alongside the club was aquired and a pleasant braai area was created with trees being planted to create some shade.
Things have changed over the years, but do yourself a favour, if you have an hour or two to spare, go into Berties Board Room, spend a quiet hour or two paging through the books that have been made up, this will give you a pictorial history of the club.
Compiled by Paul Tanner.