80th Reminder, 75th speeches.

With the 80th anniversary of the founding of the club coming up to windward (25th August 7 p.m. on the Quay – book it…) Here is a reminder of a couple of speeches made almost 5 years ago at the 75th celebrations:


Well now, the Club’s 75th. I missed the start, I was born a year too late. My parents bought The Round House in 1954 and the Hawkes, Jacky Hall’s family, bought Bay Cottage in 1955. Between us, we were probably first group responsible for lowering the tone of the place!

All the racing was started and controlled from Gentle Jane beach, where the grandees, the Pynes, the Jeffries and the Zambras, had their boats moored. So we all had to flog up to Gentle Jane for the start, and eventually back again to Rock on the ebb.

In 1953 Kempthorne Ley started a boat building and hire business on the quay. In 1954 Ken Robertson joined him, and designed the Rainbow, which was a sturdy half decked clinker mahogany dinghy. Fibreglass boats were not quite invented, and sails were still cotton. Each Rainbow had different coloured sails. Our new Rainbow R4 Rockit with its raspberry sails and a cream spinnaker was ready to launch in May 1955. I have still got Kempthorne Ley’s letter telling us she was a beauty.

John Looker bought Kempthorne Leys’ business in 1958. He provided the race rescue boat, a 16-foot clinker launch with a Stuart Turner ‘put put’ engine. It was called a Looker Leaker and it took ages to get to any capsize.

There were no concrete ramps from the Quay down to the beach in those days. Just a rotten old track, half blocked by several dozen pram dinghies stacked against the wall from top to bottom. But it was golden sand on Rock Beach right up to the wall. We laid our own moorings. You could catch a train from Padstow. The Padstow Ferry was a rowing boat. And there were salmon in the river.


What do I remember in the Clubhouse?

Skipper Herring and endless games of ping pong and sailing out around the bay in his Flying Dutchman. Mrs Buse and wonderful cakes and scones after sailing (no bar at the Club then). The noise of the steam kettle prevented any conversation. Holes in the floor and rats on the run. Lethal staircase to the changing rooms (some of us used to throw our bags down the stairs …….very unpopular to the older members!)

What do I remember on the water?

Either homemade timber boats or the latest from Ken Robby gave way to the clinker Rainbows. Very competitive racing amongst pairs of brothers – Creaks, Arthurs, Bellhouses, Lords, Greaves, Wainrights, Broadhurst, Toogoods, Hendersons and my own. Teams of parents ran the race box and got to grips with the starting canon and often using their own boats for rescue boats to supplement the infamous ‘Yellow Peril’ with a Stuart Turner engine (not to be confused with Andromeda.) Wearing old clothes (no wet suits then). Extra sweaters for strong winds. Grabbing a girl from the beach for added weight (if they ran out of extra sweaters). ‘How much do you weigh?’ was the usual chat up line for the Ospreys and Wayfarers. Very few girls helmed in those days. Prize money ten bob for Club races and silver engraved salvers for Cup and Series winners.

The Annual Dance – tonight we are reverting to the tradition of the 60s by holding a dance during the sailing season! I recall memorable evenings at the Atlantic House Hotel, Rock Institute and the Westerly Boats new shed at Pityme.

Lifelong friendships were made at the Club, by the ‘Wall’ outside the Wreckers’ bar or at barbeques on the dunes/Brea Beach. Many family friendships are now into the fourth generation, and many marriages besides our own are based on Rock.



As one of a small handful here this evening that was fortunate to grow up living in Rock, I have happy memories of the sailing club, especially working in the Galley in summer holidays in the 80’s. However, it is, of course, my late father, Ken Robertson who is remembered as being so very involved with boat building and sailing in Rock.


More later…

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