Newtownards Sailing Club was founded in 1964, following a public meeting in the Town Hall, chaired by Stanley Woods, JP and ex-Mayor of Newtownards, who became the first Vice Commodore, with Lady Mairi Bury as Commodore.
The late Angus Jardine, and Dr David Park who is still a member today, were Rear Commodore and Hon Secretary respectively. Life membership in those days cost a mere £50 – a really good investment!
A site for the clubhouse was leased on the east coast of Strangford Lough about four miles south of Newtownards, and the Mount Stewart Estate, which owned the foreshore, agreed to the lease of a slipway. The original clubhouse, which was in use until 2001, consisted of two post-war prefab asbestos clad bungalows with a central entrance hall between them. The prefabs were bought second-hand in Donaghadee and erected at the Club site entirely by volunteer labour of the members.
A slipway was laid and the clubhouse officially opened on 15th August 1964. The club started with a collection of dinghies racing on handicap, mainly Scorpions, Enterprises, Mirrors and Cadets. Regattas in those days were well attended, with on one occasion nearly 200 entrants – River class, Glen class, Flying 15s, Lightnings, Dragons as well as the dinghies.
Over the years the mix of dinghies and cruisers has varied; today the club has one of the largest and most active GP14 fleets in Ireland, lots of windsurfers, and a dozen or so cruisers.
In 2001 the changing room facilities were modernised with the aid of a helpful grant from the Ards BC. In 2006 the prefab function room was demolished and a fine new two-storey function room and bar with kitchen and and office was built, again with the assistance of a useful grant from the Ards BC. This was officially opened by the Mayor of Ards, Cllr Angus Carson and attended by many invited guests on 7th October 2006.
The eagle, an interpretation of which appears on the club burgee, is that of the de Courcys who invaded Ulster in the twelfth century. John de Courcy built the castle round which Newtownards developed. The eagle appears within the crest of the town of Newtownards.
Newtownards Sailing Club, 161 Portaferry Road, Newtownards, Co. Down BT22 2AJ, N. Ireland
(Details courtesy of Newtownards Sailing Club)
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