Work has begun on new clubrooms for the Torbay Sailing Club at Aicken Reserve, Waiake after years of planning and fundraising by club members. The new club rooms, thanks to the generous support of Foundation North, NZCT, Lotteries Commission, Auckland Council, Hibiscus and Bays Local Board, Lion Foundation and Infinity Foundation is planned for completion before the start of the 2016/17 summer season and in time for the World Master’s Games sailing event in April 2017.
The sailing club at Waiake Beach had modest beginnings in the late 1950s when local residents grouped together to share their passion for sailing on the outstanding waters off the northern East Coast Bays. Early sailing races were run out of a tent erected on the foreshore and a variety of wooden homebuilt craft were popular. By the late 1960s a number of families who later became well known in New Zealand and international sailing circles called Torbay Boating Club (as it was known then) home. Examples included the Holland family; son Ron Holland became famous as a yacht designer, as did Russell Bowler who was a key member of the Farr Design office. The Bethwaite family were also Torbay locals who later migrated to Australia and became most well known as the designers of the current Olympic class skiff the 49er. Both John Spencer and Kerry Alexander were local boat-builders based in Browns Bay and John Spencer designs such as the Jollyboat and the Javelin still sail from Torbay 5o years on!
The first club house was built on the current site in the 1960s and it was little more than a shed. Upgrades and additions provided storage for a tractor and rescue boat in the 1970s. During the 1980s club members along with the community worked to develop the current structure which also included the Awatuna Sea Scout hall and boat storage and more recently the shed for the local WaterWise group.
The current Torbay Sailing Club structure eventually became run down and basic facilities within the structure were no longer operational; plumbing, electrical and water leak issues had become common, and the club-house has become tired and run-down.
Construction of the new club house commenced in May and will feature a structure which sits on the original “foot-print”, but is more modern and fit-for-purpose. Designed by club member, architect and local resident Tymen Tolsma and supported by club members who have expertise in planning, engineering, building, legal and fundraising – the new building is a real team effort by our small, family oriented club who see the opportunity to provide a facility that has the ability to serve the local community in many ways.
“The new club-house will be awesome not only for our club, but as a facility that is suitable for for wider community use such as classes for fitness, crafts and other interest groups” says Blair Gerrard the Club Commodore.
Written by Mark Orams
Vice-patron, Torbay Sailing Club