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Club History


The Beginning..

The club was formed in 1907 and registered with Lloyds in 1908.

First Clubhouse and boats

The six founder members built the first Clubhouse, a large wooden hut near the entrance of what was then the railway station at Lee-on-the-Solent and close to the pier-head from which racing was run. In those days, sailing took place in the Metre Classes (5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 19, 20 and 23)

Early Regattas.

From 1908 to 1914 there were six two day regattas run regularly at Lee. The owners and afterguards arrived at the pier-head in carriages, trains and automobiles and were then transferred by tender to their boats.

Royal Connections.

The first Commodore, Colonel Sloan-Stanley, who was Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire remained in office for some 10 to 12 years. He was also a close friend of Edward VII and procured two billiard tables from Osborne House (East Cowes, Isle of Wight) which the Club still possess today and are in use in the Snooker Room.

Boathouse not used.

In 1938, a wealthy member, Mr Kirkpatrick, who was Chairman of two Gas Boards and was responsible for the development of Tar Macadam, built a boathouse with changing rooms, coffee and tea rooms opposite his house at the western end of Lee-on-the-Solent. Despite his enthusiasm few boats ventured down to his new moorings and facilities.

The War Years.

During the war years the beach was poorly maintained, much of the shingle was washed away and several of the local Seagull class keelboats were badly damaged by fire or bombs aimed at the local naval establishment. (HMS Daedalus)  As the beach had disappeared from Elmore, and the Government had removed the railway lines for war salvage, the Club acquired a lease on the land where the Signals Station now stands, it was fenced off and two wooden huts erected.

The Current Clubhouse.

In 1945 with a membership of around 120, it was decided to look for new premises. Eventually in 1951, after a false start in 1947 due to lack of funds, "Yewdale", the current premises was purchased. Some modifications were carried out with help from personnel from HMS Daedalus, to create the current Clubhouse. Work continued with almost entirely volunteer help until the Club was completed in December 1954. There was a formal opening at an "At Home" when all the guests were invited to bring a Burgee from another yacht club. These are now represented by over 70 plaques around the members lounge.
The Club had accommodation for its Steward until the mid 1970's when Fire Regulations and maintenance made it unusable. It had been generally fortunate with the Stewards employed over the years with Mr & Mrs Bray working for 18 years, Mr Fretwell for 17 years and others who have stayed for shorter but none the less very valuable periods.
The main building remains much the same as when it opened in 1948, with a new galley in 1990 and Bar in 1999, but there are ambitious plans to redevelop it. It was, therefore closed in 2016 and the social facilities were moved to the Signal Station.

Signal Station and Dinghy Park.

The Signal Station (Sailing Centre) became a brick building in the early 1950's and has recently been extended to securely accommodate two rescue boats. Following the successful application for a Sport England grant, the Signal Station was further extended in 2015 and converted to a temporary clubhouse in 2016. The dinghy park has been extended twice and currently berths about 140 boats in three compounds.

Local classes of boat.

Until 1920 the Club had no boats of its own. While other Solent based clubs were developing their own classes (e.g.: Victories in Portsmouth and X boats in Yarmouth), Charles Nicholson designed a 16ft Lee-on-the-Solent One Design. 12 were built and raced until 1930. In 1934, after a quiet spell, the first of the Lee-on-the-Solent Seagull Class appeared. These craft were 15 feet long, reverse clinker, three quarter decked boats with a 5ft 6inch beam. The racing scene was very active until 1937 when a force 10 storm destroyed all the boats. The Club was not willing to give in readily to the weather and 20 Mk2 Seagulls were built and ready for the start of the 1938 season. Following war damage only 10 Seagulls remained in 1946. Charles Nicholson who was by then a life member, re-designed the Seagull to be 18ft long with a 6ft beam. 20 of these were built and some remain today. To Club members they were sold for £220 including sails when racing began again at Lee.
More recently the club bought its own fleet of modern boats for the use of members and to support the training programme. These include RS Fevas and RS Quests. Class racing is held for RS400s and 2000s and it is hoped to develop the RS Aero class in the near future.