The Beginning

In 1923 Bert Stirling of Paremata and Henry France of Plimmerton came ashore in Onehunga Bay, now in Whitireia Park in Titahi Bay.  They had never met previously, but discovered a common love of sea and sails. They discussed to form a local boating club by holding a sailing race.  It was held in November 1923 between four boats of diverse specifications:

Bert Stirling’s Queenie, Henry France’s Sea Lady, W Fisk’s Wairau, and J Scott’s Scotia.

Frank Sutherland, who later became the Club’s first Secretary, scratched a map of the proposed course in the sand with his toe.

The buoys were a piece of 4”x2” in Brown’s Bay, and a tin in Brady’s Bay. From Gray’s the course followed the north-western side back to a finishing line at Shearer’s Point. Eight boats raced the second race on 1 December 1923; Bert Stirling in Queenie won.

The Evening Post of 4 December reads: “More than usual interest was taken locally by the news that a yacht club has been formed at Paramatta (sic) and the members are to be congratulated upon the success of the first race. It is good to see such fine yachtsmen as Bert Stirling, ‘Moki Mac’ McKeever etc again taking an active part in sport.”  This was a little premature because the Club was formed officially on 15 December 1923 in Dan O’Connell’s tearooms at Paremata Crescent.

The Clubhouse

The first meetings were held at those tearooms and the homes of members. The dream of a clubhouse was realised three years later in 1929, after much convincing of the Marine Department and some serious fundraising.  It took three years from 1926 to 1929 to complete the building. In 1935 a Lean-To, now the Bosun’s locker,  was added to accommodate the growing fleet after the Marine Department had granted the Club an eastward extension of the waterfront. In  1939/40 a committee room and a kitchen were added over the boat shed and the Lean-To.  The boat sheds at the eastern end were added in 1946/47. In 1950 the Club was given built a shed on the sand bar that belonged to the Ngati Toa Domain Board. Only after Pop Reid had made a scale model, which could be shown to the Board that approval was granted. The Committee named the shed in recognition of the work done by the Reid family.

In 1955 the Club needed to expand again.  However, it took until 1961 when the Ministry of Works and Development shelved plans for a motorway extension that the Club was assured of its site. Funds needed to be raised over three years.  The main hall and large shed were built with the help of members. And in April 1965 the first social meetings could be held in the new premises.

The Sailors

Jack Coleman was only 20 years old when in 1935 he skippered Lavina to victory, winning the Sanders Cup with his crew of Jack Nolan, Jack Sandford, and Bert Williams in Lyttelton for the Wellington province.

In 1947 Bub Montgomery and Murray Williams won the Cornwell cup in 1947, and Evan Fisher and Russel Morrison again in 1966.

Mick Pinkney and Terry Brandon gained the Leander Trophy for the R Class in 170 and 1973. Mick repeated this feat in 1978 with Mike Julian. Mick and Andy Knowles represented New Zealand in the 470 class in the pre-Olympics in 1975.

In 1973 David Barnes won both the Tanner and Tauranga Cups. He went on to win the World 470s three times, was the backup skipper in the 1987 America’s Cup, and skippered KZ1 in the 1988 America’s Cup challenge.

Gavin Auld won the Tanner Cup the following year, and Brian Jones secured the Tauranga Cup in 1975. Simon Patchett brought the Tanner again to the Club in 1986.

Murray Jones and Steve Macris won the NZ Junior Cherub Championship in 1974. Glen Sowry became the Junior Cherub Champion in 1979 and came fourth in the 470s Australian championships in 1980 together with Michael Boswell as crew.

Murray and David Barnes were selected as reserves in the 470 for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Steve was selected as New Zealand’s sailboard training partner for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Murray and David Barnes went on to win the Flying Dutchman Champs in 1987. Of course, Murray is now the strategist for Alinghi. http://valenciasailing.blogspot.com/2009/07/valencia-sailing-talks-to-murray-jones.html

And last, but by no means least, Sir Russell Coutts, the Olympic champion of 1984 in the Finn Dinghy and three times winner of the America’s Cup,  sailed his P-class at Paremata.

“I learned to sail on Paremata Harbour, to the North of Wellington, where all the local kids sailed. It was a perfect place to learn”:

Sir Russell in Course to Victory