A brief history of Trearddur Bay Sailing Club

On an August morning in 1918, Frank Buckley, sailing with his eight-year-old son, Peter, in his 16-foot dinghy, Elf, challenged Frank Mathews in Margaret to a “race” round rocks in the bay. While Frank Mathews won, the much more far-reaching result was that the two sailors that evening went to see William Smellie at Craig y Mor and the three decided to investigate the support for forming a sailing club.

The following August, a handicap race was held with six boats ranging from 13 to 18 feet long participating, and on the 23rd of August 1919, at a meeting held in the Trearddur Bay Hotel, Trearddur Bay Sailing Club was founded by the 15 men and 2 women in attendance. A week later, a committee decided to order a number of 12- foot dinghies to be ready for racing in 1920. By that following summer, five of the 12-foot boats, by then known as the Insect class, and three of a 14-foot class, called Myths, were raced. Although the Insect class no longer exists, ironically the three boats built first for the club, number1 Hornet, number2 Midge, and number 3 Ant, are extant and have been restored to race in the club’s centenary, and their 99th year.

No original Myths remain but the Myth class has recently seen a great resurgence of support with many new boats being built to bring the current fleet to over 40. The third of the “traditional” boat classes raced at TBSC, the Half Raters, was adopted for racing in Trearddur in 1922. Since then other classes have come and gone in popularity; currently, in addition to the Half Raters and Myths, Mirrors, Fevas, and Optimists, plus miscellaneous classes, are raced.

Newspaper records indicate that a sailing regatta was held in the bay in 1896, with both local residents and summer visitors participating. Many of these same people helped found the club and it grew quickly with 55 members by the end of summer 1919, around 250 prior to World War II, c. 600 at the time of the golden jubilee in 1969, and over 1100 now. Membership is now full as the club functions only in August and has very limited facilities. There is no clubhouse but a range of social, as well as sailing, events are held each August.

The club’s original flag was a simple geometric red, white and blue design, which was slightly altered in the first few years. The current flag dates from 1922 and displays a white bishop’s mitre of Holyhead on a red background because the members wanted to have a symbol with a significance related to its location.

Racing at TBSC occurs almost exclusively in August, making the club somewhat unusual. However, this fact makes it a holiday sailing club and many members sail elsewhere during the year. The smaller boats race on courses inside the bay, while the larger boats race farther out to sea. Most courses are a mix of triangular and sausage-shaped legs, and the number of times round varies according to weather conditions.

The starting/finishing line is a projection out across the water from the flagstaff. The countdown to the start is signalled every 5 minutes by the firing of small cannon-shaped guns; the club uses guns as the noise needs to carry to all boats on the water so stop watches can be set by the sailors. Unlike, for example, athletics races, boats do not start from a stationary position, thus the accurate timing of a fast crossing of the starting line is critical. Flags signal the start and large wooden boards at the flagstaff signal the course each class is to use.