A fresh breeze is blowing through a Torquay sailing club’s ancient clubhouse. Babbacombe Corinthian Sailing Club is an important part of the local community, offering not only vital recreation for all, but training and encouragement to hundreds of children over many generations.
But the clubhouse on Oddicombe beach, which was built before the Second World War, is long overdue a refurbishment.
The club drew up plans and started fundraising in 2017, but the pandemic took the wind out of the project’s sails when they had about £150,000 of the estimated £230,000 they need.
The club has now launched a crowdfunding campaign as part of its bid to raise the cash. They are also seeking grants from Sport England and support and sponsorship from smaller organisations and businesses.
Local people may be familiar with the “top” clubhouse next to the Co-op in St Marychurch. Many local people join as social members with no knowledge of sailing. This building is used for social activities, and supports community art classes, Tessier Gardens, St Marychurch & District Partnership and the Torbay Community Development Trust.
But sailing and the sailors rely on the beachside clubhouse, which was built in 1935 as a boat store. The building is now in a very poor state and needs to be completely modernised.
It has no toilets, rudimentary female changing facilities – and the men have to change in the garage where the club’s safety boats are stored.
“We want to provide 21st Century facilities so that our juniors of today can become the sailors of tomorrow,” Adrian Mark, the Commodore, said.
“We hope to achieve our aim of delivering a new modern beach clubhouse fit for the 21st century which will allow us to continue to offer the sailing experience to all our young and old members, plus the facilities to enjoy what we offer, to all our local community.”
The club is a not-for-profit and un entirely by volunteers for the benefit of its 400 members, including about 50 kayakers and 26 juniors. And there is a growing 2023 waiting list.
The club is affiliated to a number of local sporting clubs, including the Disabled Sailing Association, and before Covid members ran “Discover Sailing” experience days for the benefit of non-club members.
The club has developed RYA accredited on-water training sailing programmes for adults, juniors and power boat drivers. More recently it has expanded to deliver shore based theory courses
The newly extended clubhouse will include an open-plan area for teaching, social meetings, a galley area and an inside race control area.
Guy Hester, Principal of the club’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA) affiliated training centre, said: “It will be a joy and a relief, after so many years of making-do, to have a modern facility from which our volunteer instructors can teach.
“As an RYA recognised training centre providing dinghy, powerboat and shore-based training, we are obliged to provide good facilities and a dry comfortable environment. Completion of this modernisation project will make this so much easier to achieve.”
Neil Mander, the Vice Commodore in charge of sailing, said: “Our sport has changed a lot since 1935 and Oddicombe Beach is, also, a lot different nowadays.
“Our club sees itself as part of the local community, inclusive of everyone who wants to learn and enjoy dinghy sailing. We want to offer all our members the best possible environment for this.”
A wide range of rewards are on offer to thank those who give to support the project.
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