PDSC / CHYF Club History
Port Dinorwic Sailing Club was formed on 23rd June 1947, at a “public meeting of yacht and boat owners” convened in the Memorial Hall, “to consider the advisability to form a sailing club in Port Dinorwic”.
Twenty three people attended the meeting and unanimously decided to go ahead. A subscription of 5/- per member and the formation of the rules and committees went rapidly forward.
The very first club race was held at 2pm on Saturday July 5th and, in the absence of any premises, was started from the shore on Beach Road.
That the club was a village club cannot be stressed enough. 22 of the 23 original members lived in Felinheli, the majority within 300 yards of the club’s present site. The first commodore was Mr. O.T. Williams, the Dinorwic Quarry Manager, who was an offshore sailor of note (“Falcon”, 8-metre and “Kyria”, 6-metre), and the other officers were village residents.
The growth of membership was very rapid, with 165 members at the start of the 1948 season – and still no clubhouse! Land was rented from the Quarry
(for a “peppercorn rent” of2/- a year) and the first clubhouse, an ex-RAF hut from Valley, was erected during 1948 (cost £75). This was replaced by another building in 1970 at a cost of around £9000 and this was replaced by the current building in 2003 at a cost of £225,000, aided by a Lottery grant of £155,000.
The first racing boats were a mixture of dinghies (“nondescripts”) from 10ft to 18ft long. In 1949 three identical (?) 16-footers were commissioned from P. Waters in Appledore and these founded the Port Dinorwic One Design or 16-foot Class. These were the club’s main class up to 1956 and the racing of these clinker dinghies has provided much of the club’s folk-lore. One of these, the “Gypsy”, originally owned by Dr. Rowlands, raced by Eric Owen, and restored by Emyr Roberts, was proudly displayed at the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
After 1956 the PD One Design sailors moved into newer classes, and the following 40 years saw classes including Albacores, Fireflies, GP 14s, Enterprises, Lasers, Optimists and a medley of fast trapeze dinghies. More recently these have been joined by RS Teras, RS 400s &100s, Toppers, Solos, Laser Vagos and the emerging technology of the hydro-foil (in the Wazp and windsurfer).
In the keelboat section, a class of Silouettes gave way to Scimitars in the 1970s. More recently, the keelboats have been replaced by cruising boats, but these have raced in occasional long-distance races.
Over the years the club has competed in many Open Events, the Wilson Trophy, the 24 Hour race and national team racing series, with, of course, varied levels of success. Members of the club have travelled throughout the UK, Europe and around the world racing all types of boats and always bring credit to their home club, with several National and World Champions.
Before the 1980s, if you wanted to learn how to sail, the standard course of action was to volunteer as a crew for someone who had a boat. Often this would lead to making or purchasing your own dinghy and training up someone else up in turn. In 1987 the club invested in the dory for safety and ran an 8-week learn to sail course with Toppers borrowed from Plas Menai. We were then supported by the WYA to obtain 6 (amateur built) Optimists to run 8-week junior beginner courses.
In 2003, part of the Lottery grant for the new clubhouse was used to get 4 new Topper dinghies and a RIB, enabling us to expand the training to youth and adult learners.
In 2010 the club became an RYA Recognised Training Centre leading to Instructor training and grants for another RIB and Optibats as well as better systems for more formal training and sailing.
The club has always been a family club, indeed we have 3rd and 4th generation youngsters coming through, so in 2013 Pirates was launched. This was an innovative scheme encouraging whole families to sail, with the emphasis on fun. It was aimed specifically to support the demographic of the club at the time, which had a lot of young families with sailing parents. This, in addition to the introduction of more social sailing activities as well as race training has led to an influx of new families joining the club in recent years.
Whilst many things in the world of sailing have changed since the club’s conception, Port Dinorwic Sailing Club still holds true to the ideals of its founders – that the club should provide sailing for all types of boats, that all people should be eligible for membership, that the club be managed as a sailing club only and that the club’s aim is to promote the sport of sailing for all.