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Norwich Model Yacht Club

The late Peter Montague explains how it all began...

It all started way back in 1988 when I was wandering in Thorpe Recreational Park and came across Kevin Appleton flying a kite. I introduced myself and in the course of conversation it was discovered that we were both interested in sailing model yachts. At the time I was a member of the Broads Club, but was finding it more and more difficult to leave my wife alone for a whole day because she had Parkinsons and I was worried about what would happen during the day I was sailing.

Kevin and I arranged to meet and sail at Eaton Park with two or three other interested people and this continued for some time.

I was walking in Whitlingham one day when I discovered that they had finished excavating the little Broad and had started on the Great Broad.

The Great Broad was excavated in two halves. The western end was dug first. A dam was constructed half way down to hold the water back, then the eastern end was dug and after all the gravel had been extracted, the dam was demolished.

It seemed a golden opportunity to move our operation from Eaton Park to the Little Broad. At about this time we decided to form a club under the leadership of Kevin. It was decided to call it the Norwich Model Yacht Club, much to the consternation of The Norwich Model Boat Club who thought our name was too close to theirs. The Broads Club also were concerned that we would steal some of their members.

However, at that time, we were only sailing around the Broad with no structured racing and Kevin was in total charge. We decided to make him Commodore and he also took on the jobs of secretary and treasurer. As well as this he also wrote a newsletter, which was distributed to all members. Yearly membership at that time was £5.

After a year or two sailing on the Little Broad, weed was becoming a problem. By this time the Western end of the Great broad was finished and we started sailing from the slip. We sailed on for some time until Kevin wanted to retire as Commodore. No one seemed to be interested in taking it on, so rather than see the Club go under I volunteered to take on the job. I had previously, in 1973, been Commodore of Horning Sailing Club so I thought that I was qualified for the job.

It soon became apparent that we didn’t need to charge £5 a year as there were very few expenses so I dropped membership fee to £3. I also realised that membership had grown and that being Treasurer and Secretary were not my strong points. One of the functions of a Commodore is to delegate, so at a General Meeting I was very fortunate that Ronnie Mobbs volunteered to become Secretary and Robert Hughes to become Treasurer. Both have proved to be very efficient and I am more than grateful for their hard work for the Club. We also elected a Committee to serve the Club.

Members were becoming tired of just sailing around and wanted something more exciting so we laid a course and started racing. I thought that it would be a good idea to start a series of races for points and at the same time have a schedule of OODs to run the races. There were mutterings from some members that this would be disaster and lead to resignations but it seems that OODs enjoy their moment of power.

This brings us up to the present. The Trust has taken over the park and installed Parking meters to help pay for the necessary maintenance and we now have to pay for the use of the water. This has led to a big increase in the Annual Membership charges. However when you compare this with other sports and pastimes I don’t think we have any cause to grumble. We have, probably the best sailing water in East Anglia, we also have rescue facilities and a very good café on site.

I have decided that it is about time that I stepped down from flag rank and to give someone else the chance to take over the honour of becoming Commodore. I hope my successor will have as much fun and satisfaction as I have had and I hope that the Club will prosper for many years to come.


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