The steering committee had two main tasks: to agree with the Water Company the terms of a lease and the club constitution and to turn a wild wood and a marsh into a site for a sailing club.
The prospect was daunting. To get to the water’s edge from the nearest hard road it was necessary to traverse a field, then 150 yards of woodland with thick undergrowth, and then 50 yards of marsh. During the summer of 1972 a road was laid across the field, the undergrowth and sufficient trees were cleared to form a car park, roadways and dinghy berths. A causeway was built across the marsh to the water’s edge. As an illustration of the physical labour involved, the trunks of several hundred trees were placed in the marsh to form the base for the 125 tons of hard-core used for the causeway.
|All this labour was done by a small band of volunteers led by Roy Simmons and including Richard Tacon who came with a tractor and power saw, Ron King, John Gray, Arthur Marfleet, Gerry Miles and Tony Wilkin.
They went on to build a slipway out of railway sleepers and then the main jetty much as it is today.
This small band, reinforced from time to time by others, worked all through 1972 on every Saturday and Sunday from 9 – 1. They were operating without any facilities, shelter or apparatus except what they brought with them. The only concession to human weakness was the presence of two Elsan toilets in sheds, one of which later became the first starting box.
By July 23 enough had been done to make sailing possible and the Club was officially opened by Mr Tom Watson. ‘Please come and picnic on the site, launch your boat and sail… Since we have at present no facilities please bring your own refreshments.’
For the rest of the 1972 season sailing went on a casual basis until what was then the last day of the season – 29 October 1972 – when the club held its first race.
Meanwhile the non-physical side of the club had been taking shape. The Water Company were now whole-heartedly behind the project. In a series of discussions with environmentalists, fishermen and the inhabitants of Burghwood Road they endeavoured to ensure that as far as possible existing interests were protected and that all those affected by the change of use of the site were kept happy about it. There are no records of actual discussions with the Great Crested Grebe, but its family life was protected from disruption by the exclusion from our sailing water of Lily (or ‘Lady’) Broad. It was agreed that no fishing; should be allowed from the club or from club boats and a gentleman’s agreement was established that sailing craft would keep well clear of boats fishing. It was also agreed that we would not be allowed to use rowing boats, canoes or rubber dinghies from the club. ‘Acceptable’ boats were open centreboard dinghies up to l8′ in length overall. They were to be berthed ashore.
|Burghwood Road was a more difficult problem. At least one inhabitant, Mr French, had bought his house there because he would be traffic free and have access for fishing to Broads where nothing else went on. All the residents were worried about the extra wear and tear on the road surface and the dust and traffic nuisance. The Water Company met the last point by undertaking to maintain the road and the club agreed to enforce a 10-mph speed limit between the Main Road and the club, and appointed one of the residents, Ron King to the committee to represent the residents
The club committee, which included two members of the East Anglian Water Company: Jack Fitch and Keith Clarke, produced a constitution and a set of rules. Before these were completed, it had become clear that the club would not get more than fifty local memberships, which would never be enough to support class racing or provide the kind of facilities everybody wanted. The Water Company had no interest in ‘just another sailing club’ and every interest in making sure that the key- holders of the three villages (Ormesby St Margaret with Scratby, Ormesby St Michael and Rollesby) retained control of the club that had been founded for the express purpose of providing them with sailing and the unexpressed purpose of defusing the agitation about public staithes.
The Club Rules therefore as originally drafted created two kinds of membership: full for the key-holders of the riparian villages and annual for those living elsewhere. Annual members were barred from the committee and therefore from being club officers and had no votes at the AGM. The object of this device was to prevent the control of the club from passing out of the hands of the villagers for whose benefit it had been established. The first annual members were accepted in August 1972 bringing the club membership to 94 adults and 42 juniors. From the beginning the club was a Do-it-Ourselves institution. Members were expected to give their time and skills to the building up of a viable sailing club. It was also a family club with children as welcome as adults, and it was a sailing club, not a racing club, though, of course, many members wanted to race.