Yachtsmen Discover Club Burgee At An Island Picnic
An article appeared in the July 1952 number of Kinabalu Magazine telling of plans made in the Kuching Camp during the war to found a North Borneo Yacht Club in Jesselton with a club house built on the reef to the East of the Customs bund. Although plans then made fell through, except for the formation of the short-lived Jesselton Sailing and Boating Club, there is now in Jesselton a Yacht Club which has come near to realising them. Unfortunately, as far as we know, none of the original planners are here to help and even their design for badge and burgee have been lost.
The Jesselton Y.C. was started mainly through the enthusiasm of Robin Gossip who had been the first Commodore of the Sandakan Y.C. It was at his house in November 1952 that the idea of forming a club was first discussed and although there was some doubt as to whether a club would be successful his keenness prevailed over those who suggested as an alternative an unorganized association of boat owners and keen yachtsmen.
Gossip’s stay was unfortunately short but he was able to see the Jesselton Y.C. started. The first General Meeting in January elected him Secretary with L.T.I. Tyson as Commodore, John Stagg Vice Commodore and Brian Buckland and John Sadler as committee members.
H.E. the Governor very kindly accepted an invitation to be the club patron.
John Stagg owned a Yachting World 14-foot General Purposed dinghy (named inappropriately Fat Annie) and it was decided to adopt this type of boat for the Club class as it met the need for a light handy craft easy and cheap to build. Plans were put in hand to build two immediately, one for Mr Wood and the other for the use of the Club members. With the co-operation of Mr Norbron the Chief Instructor, these were constructed at the Trade School Menggatal but were not completed for some months.
A number of motor-boats were owned by members and of the sailing boats Sidney Carpenter’s converted dukong “Annabella” came round from Sandakan and Brian Suart’s “Asia” a sharpie designed and built by himself was available to members.
The first event organized by the Club was a Saturday afternoon picnic to Gaya Island on January 10th 1953 at which practically all the then members turned out and were transported in Charles Evan’s “Calypso”, Buckland’s and Joaquim’s boats and in Robinson’s speed boat which made several trips in record time. Fat Annie was sailed over by Stagg but Annabella had the misfortune to break her mast shortly after leaving moorings. This picnic was memorable if only because out of it came the design of the Club Burgee, a flying fox on an orange background. The party had disturbed the colony of flying foxes on the island and hundreds of them circled round overhead.
In the early months there was little that the Club could do to maintain interest except to arrange other picnics and to have a series of evenings at various member’s houses at which subjects connected with boats and boating were discussed, talks given etc.
The Club boat “Flying Fox” and George Chattel’s “Corsair”, a 14-foot boat of a different type, were welcome additions to the fleet in May and had a great battle in the sailing race that was part of Jesselton’s Coronation Celebrations, the former just winning. That race roused a good deal of interest in the Club as it demonstrated that although nothing much had been said, quite a lot had been done towards achieving the Club’s aim to foster interest in boating of all kinds.
A number of races have been held since which have been well supported by members, Naiad (Fat Annie after the beauty treatment) now owned and sailed by Jim Grimbly had the distinction of winning the first trophy sailed for in the Club – a tankard presented by the Commodore in a series of closely contested races in which the Flying Fox was second. Tiggywinkle sailed by Susan Wood, Corsair, Annabella and Egret, a Snipe owned by Jay Roger and sailed by George Cross were the other competitors.
While yacht racing is not by any means the main object of the Club, it is proving a useful focus for activity and encourages members to sail regularly.
The Club boat is available to any member and arrangements have been made for experienced helmsmen to take out beginners. Two other dinghies are being built and three more are expected to be started shortly so that in a little over a year a good class of modern boats has been built up in a place where previously few interested themselves in sailing. This is an achievement that augurs well for the future of the Jesselton Y.C. A temporary site by the Customs Godown has been secured and a landing stage constructed and a crane for lifting out the boats provided. A rowing dinghy built up by Mr. Chettle is another most useful asset and a small clubhouse is the next step projected. Then members will be able to store their gear on the spot and perhaps be able to sit and review the day’s events after a good race or sail over a glass of beer. Working parties of members on Thursday evenings have helped matters on and this is fit and proper in a sport that develops self-reliance and initiative. The keenness, enthusiasm and hard work of Commodore L.T.I Tyson who has had the distinction of being Commodore of the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club (the oldest Y.C. in the Colonies, founded in 1892) in 1951, the Vice Commodore, John Sadler and the Honorary Secretary, Susan Wood have carried the club well on its way.
In the New Year, it is hoped to entertain and race against a team from the Sandakan Y.C. and an invitation has been accepted to send two teams of three to Miri to race against the Boat Club there in March. Whether sailing races will be included in future Hone Cup matches remains to be seen but may well be.
Motor racing has not flourished as was hoped and the loss of John Law-Smith’s boat was a blow to hopes of reviving interest. Rowing is another sport the Club would encourage and given a member capable and keen enough to give instruction and if the necessary funds become available.