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DSC History

Roll of Honour Click

A Sunday morning challenge led to Dabchicks Sailing Club

Circa 1900 high tide with the shed that became Dabchicks in the background

1906 - Bill Wyatt, owner of the boat Mersea Hard and J. Smith, chief coastguard officer (known to fishermen as Admiral Smith) and owner of Alice, challenged each other on one Sunday morning to race – the loser to pay for drinks at the old Victory.

The idea of racing developed during the following year when several boats took part. There was Junk owned and sailed by G. Stoker and S. French, which had no centre box, a keel having to be screwed to her for each race. There was Kate, owned by Trim and raced by Clarke Mussett; Katie, owned by Digby and sailed by Junky Mole: Scallywag sailed by H. Welham; Blue Bird, sailed by Rab Cutts and Becky D’Wit; Rodger Roo, sailed by S French and Chum Hewes; and there was Hoppy Hewes in a sailing punt. These boats raced during the next three years, with Jess Pullen as starter and timekeeper.

The Winkle Brig Kate, racing off Mersea - note the battoned mainsail and modern looking long bowsprit

On the left the shed that became DSC and the orginal Victory Hotel on the right

May 20th 1911 - a meeting was held at the Victory Hotel to form a sailing club for small craft. It was decided that the club be named the Dabchicks Sailing Club and the following members were elected officers: the Rev. C. F. Yonge, Commodore; Capt. Harden, vice-commodore; H. Welham hon. Secretary; W. Trim, hon, treasurer – with Messrs. Ben Hewes, A Mussett, Sam French, G. Littleshales, H Banks junior, A Stoker, C Mussett, F. Wyatt, J Mussett, H. Hewes, William Wyatt, C. Hewes, C. Woods on the committee. Jess Pullen was starter/timekeeper.

When racing duly started money prizes were given to facilitate the purchase of beer, but on one famous occasion a pig was presented as a prize for a race down to the Meets, across South Shore and up to Shingle Hills. Many boats competed and a large number of spectators (including the lady who had graciously donated the pig) stood on Hove Hill to witness the event.

Mersea Hard sailed by E. Wyatt, was leading Blue Bird, sailed by Becky D’Wit, but when she rounded Shingle Hills buoy she came across the Nass. Blue Bird went round Nass Beacon – the set course – and made a protest against Mersea Hard. The pig was presented to Blue Bird, who subsequently bore on her bow a pig painted by the late Jack Spurgeon.

At the end of the season a dinner was held at the Victory Hotel for men only. About 50 members attended. The reverend commodore concluded his speech with the words “And now the sailing season is over, all you dabchicks may go to your nests.”

An early photo of the DSC site showing that wrecks were always part of the landscape and how things have changed

1912 - The number of boats increased, by Lapwing, owned by T. Gabriel; and Ranie. A regatta was held for smacks and small craft.

1913 - Cups were presented by the Rev. C. F. Yonge and Captain Harden. A race to the Crabchicks Sailing Club at Brightlingsea was arranged, and the course set was round the white buoy which is rounded today when sailing to Brightlingsea Sailing Club.

1914 - A shotgun (a somewhat unusual prize for a race) was won by S. French in Rodger Roo (C. Hewes) and he went on to win the rose bowl presented by Captain Harden.

1919 - After the war the dabchicks were reformed with T. Gabriel as Commodore. The boats after much bailing out reappeared.

1920 – Many more boats were sailing in the events - O I Say, Mimms, Bally Boys, Teal, Naiad, Ivy, Victory, Blue bird (W. L. Fairbank). Crab (owned by Wilkinson), and Dona (owned by Gowan). Later, A Briscoe designed War Baby, which was sailed by his son. At the end of the season a dinner was held at the Hall Barn and a hundred members attended.

1921 – There was a further increase in the number of boats, and three classes were formed – Class 1, 11 boats; Class 2, 11 boats; Class 3, 13 boats. This year saw Hoppy in Bally Boys winning many races and Woodham Hewes decided to build a sailing punt.

1922 – The sailing punt was launched and named Amateur. She was sailed by Woodham and won the trophy presented by Richardson. Dinner held again in the Hall Barn and Bally Boys dressed overall, appeared on the stage.


1923 – Amateur was again in the news, this time winning a trophy presented by Mr. Dyson

1927 - The club continued strongly until many of the older boats and their owners retired before the faster craft that were now competing, and enthusiasm began to wane.

1928 - The club ceased to function.

1938 - The club was re-formed by W. Wyatt, H. Cutts, G. Hempstead, Reg Hempstead, Jess Pullen and S. French and all was well until war broke out again. Members included Captain Chatsworth Musters, C. W. A. Scott, the famous airman; and Bill and Cecil Barlow.

April 1946 – A meeting was held at the White Hart Hotel, Jim Banks and a small committee including three older members, H. Hewes, G. Stoker, and S. French (who was still with the club as starter/timekeeper in 1961) got the club going again.

1947 - With J. Banks as Commodore and A. Simmonds as secretary/treasurer, much progress was made. At the revived annual dinner at the White Hart there were 40 members present.

1948 - The season saw many new members and boats with D Topham as Commodore

1949 - G Hewes was Commodore, and in the sailing that year Leo Michael Smith, in his new B.O.D. Ruff won many trophies, and in the following year won the Colne Yacht Club’s points cup. Later, more BO.D.s were sailing with the club and a class was formed. Roy Robertson became social secretary.

Harold and Polly Cutts working on their BOD in what is now the DSC changing rooms and George "hoppy" Hewes on Stormcock

1952 - A Wormall was Commodore

Picture above circa 1950, shows TV aeriel on chimney (centre of picture) club house has small windows and old tin roof. Concrete apron has not been built at this time. Boat in the foreground was owned by a fisherman called Drinkall. The boat is now kept at Goldhanger

1954 - The boat shed was purchased for use as a club house and a great deal of work was put into this by Bruce Rainbird Commodore and his committee – not forgetting the late Bunny Unwin, who at this time was carrying heavy secretarial duties.

1955 - Produced the biggest day in the history of the club when Mrs Michael Smith along with Bill Wyatt, (shown second from the left in the photograph below) opened the new clubhouse in the presence of a hundred members.

1956 – March Hare, owned and sailed by Rodney Hill won the cross Channel race in his class.

1957Mr. L. Michael-Smith was commodore. The cadet class was adopted.

1959 - aerial photograph

1960Bruce Rainbird Commodore The Enterprise class was adopted

1961 – The new dinghy park was constructed at the expense of much hard labour. Harry Stevens the Commodore was observed swinging a 14lb hammer for many days. By now Dabchicks Sailing club was well established with 460 members, 20 Enterprises, 10 B.O.D.s, 6 Sea Rangers, 30 cruisers and many other types.

The Admiral Fitzroy Barometer was presented to the club by George Thompson also known as H G Thompson during in the 1960's. George joined the club in the 1940's just after World War II had ended. He was best known for competing in the Brightlingsea One Design races with his boat "Rebel" sail number C27. George and Tony Cole take a rest in light airs!

Postcards from the 1960's which showing the club house under contruction

1963 - New club house was built Laying supper more

1964 - D P Haward was Commodore

1967 - R F H Pearson was Commodore

1969 - Trophies

1970 - M H Dands was Commodore

1973 - R F H Pearson was Commodore

1974 - J E French was Commodore The upstairs accommodation was added leaving the building as it is today. Trophies

1977 - P J Smith was Commodore

1978 - Sailing Program 1 2 3

1979 - Trophies

1980 - T C Cook was Commodore

1982 -Swan World Cup - Porto Cervo Sardindina - Mersea Pearl with all Dabchicks crew; Bill Newman (skipper), Stephanie Newman, John Haynes, Dave Royce, Tony Foster and John Gosling

1983 - I L Bates was Commodore

1985 - J D Spring was Commodore

1987 - M J Frizpatrick was Commodore - Ray island Barbecue

1988 - Laying up supper menu >> Trophy winners

1989 - A E Purdie was Commodore

1991 - P J Smith was Commodore

1992 - Tim Wood was Commodore

1994 - John Cook was Commodore

1995 - Vic Prior was Commodore 95 report 96 report DSC hold 1995 Sonata Nationals

1997 - B Sargent was Commodore

1999 - Anne Marfleet was Commodore

2001 - Tim Wood was Commodore

2002 - Members notable achivements

2003 - Paul Jackson was Commodore

2004 - 29th February Flood Tide

2005 - Martin Cartwright was Commodore and in October 2005 Paul Jackson was presented with the RYA Community Award by HRH The Princess Royal

2006 - Dabchicks host the RYA Zone Championships

2007 - Ed Allan was Commodore

19 Jan 2007 Massive gale blow boats over in the dinghy park. BBC Weather World News repots, the big clear up starts today after England and Wales was battered by the worst storm in 17 years.

2008 - Ray Smith was awarded a MBE for services to sport and young people in Essex.

2008 - Dabchicks host the RYA Zone Championships

2009 - Graham Frost was Commodore

2011 - John Fisher was Commodore for our Centenary year

Dabchicks celebrates 100 years sailing in style at the Centenary Ball held at East Mersea Hall 14th May 2011 Click

In its Centenary year Dabchicks Sailing club has now grown to around 750 members, with over 180 dinghies and 65 cruisers regularly taking part in racing or training events. These events are supported by a good number of Ribs, dory’s, and motorboats.

The water-front taken from the air by Phil Passfield, 11th December 2011

2013 - Roger Sydenham becomes Commodore

Saskia Clark receives honorary Doctorate from Colchester Institute

Colchester Institute honoured the sporting world at its Graduation Ceremonies this October by awarding Olympic silver medallist, and Dabchicks life member Saskia Clark, an honorary Doctorate in recognition of her distinct contribution to her field.

On the 5 December 2013 a large storm surge hit the east coast of the UK causing widespread flooding along the coast.

5th Dec 13 very High tide Boat on Coast Road

This left a tide mark on the club house door, and flooding of the downstairs area. Second picture shows a boat motoring down Coast Road!!

CONGRATULATIONS to Martin Evans who finished second at the 38th Christmas Race in Palamos

Martin Evans

The 2013 GBR Optimist Worlds Team, which included David Labrouche were voted young sailors of the year in Yachts and Yachting - the awards are featured in the January edition of Yachts and Yachting. Gazette newspaper story

Ex-Dabchicks Cadets still sailing and doing great!

Sam Caslin, bow man on Black Dog wins 18ft skiff European championships lake Garda


Andy Page, tactician trimer on Aqua-J GBR165 wins the J80 Nationals Poole Regatta

Many congratulations to Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills 2nd place in the 2014 470 Open European Championships

2015 - Peter Fitt becomes Commodore

Saturday 2nd April 2016 Opening of the refurbished of the men's changing room

At 3pm, the Commodore Peter Fitt, thanked our contractors, and presented the Rear Commodore, Jojo Taylor with a bouquet for all her hard work in planning and project managing the refurbishment of the men's changing room. Peter, then offically cut the ribbon to open the male changing area for members to view. The club now needs to raise funds to complete refurbishment of the rest of the club's ground floor, in particular the ladies' changing room, read more

Olympic Gold for Hannah and Saskia - a big well done from all your friends at Dabchicks!!!

Wow from Optimist sailing dinghy to 470 Olympic gold

Saskia started sailing at Mersea Island in her first wooden Optimist called Bumblebee with yellow and black stripes. Then she started racing and that long Olympic journey to Gold. Saskia has inspired many of our young cadets to learn to sail, and to race in National and Internation events.

2016 Rolex World Sailor of the Year © Rolex

470Girls are Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, Won Gold in Rio 2016, and in 2012, World Champions and Olympic Silver Medallists.

Now they are winners of 2016 Rolex World Sailor of the Year award!






Thanks go to club Members old and new and the club archives for the help in writing this article

Simon Cutts for a number of the early pictures from the Cutts family collection, and others from Ron Green.

Also thanks goes for the support and help of the Mersea Museum

If you have old pictures, interesting club events that happened in the last 100 years please send them to the webmaster

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