SUBMITTED BY GREG SLAKOV
The Salt Spring Island Sailing Club turned 50 this year and was celebrated in style on Sunday, May 5 on the water in Ganges Harbour and in the clubhouse at the foot of Douglas Street.
You may have noticed the armada of about 40 or 50 sail and power boats milling about between the club and Goat Island before noon. The bagpipes celebrating the anniversary and the club’s first commodore, Lawrie Neish, could be heard all over the harbour as members marched from the docks up to the clubhouse for lunch. After lunch, 11 boats set out on a fun race from the club, up into the inner harbour near the Coast Guard dock, all the way out to a buoy near Prevost Island, and back.
Over 50 years ago, Lawrie and Aileen Neish started the ball rolling on what would become our local sailing club. They mentored students to build small sailing boats called Sabots in Lawrie’s shop at the school where he was the shop teacher. When the boats were made, the students learned to sail them, and as soon as they were sailing around together, they began to race. This was very successful and popular at the local level, but to race in formal regattas, one needs to belong to a sailing club. Hence the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club was born. For these services, and others too long to list, the Neishs received three rousing cheers from the entire club membership at Sunday’s lunch.
Several of the students who learned from the Neishs still live on the island, Karen Truscott and Rob Cannon among them. And true to its heritage, the club still teaches children and youth to sail and race during the summer in its very popular sailing school.