by Llewellyn Pridham
I appreciate the honour of being invited to write a Foreword to this little book – the history of a Club with which I was closely associated for several years. A wealth of information has been accumulated between the covers, and is woven into a sea-salty story which should have a wide appeal.
When the proofs were put into my hands I was unable to set them down again until I had turned the last page. I found the story most absorbing, and the breezy touch with which the facts have been put down contributes to its readability.
Dr. Palgrave Simpson, as you will read, launched the first Sailing Club in Weymouth. I can remember this popular Physician in his later years, driving along the Esplanade, seated in his gleaming brougham, behind a cockaded coachman and a pair of spanking greys. From his day until the beginning of the Second World War the whole tale is here. The reader will soon become aware of odd characters, strange craft, angry letters, furious protests, earnest Committee Meetings, races in all types of weather; and the hard-won recognition of lady membership.
It is not so very long ago since our masculine selves forbade the fairer sex to enter the Club buildings -‘the females’ being looked upon with suspicion if not alarm! I can well remember the acrimonious debate which took place to decide whether they should be invited to the Annual Dinner. Yet these gracious ladies now wield a power to be reckoned with, and Lord knows what authority is exerted behind the scenes!
I wonder do Club members realise the extent of their good fortune in being admitted to such a fraternity of the sea? One has only to enter the Club premises to be charmed by the cordial and friendly atmosphere; people are there to sail, and all of like mind are welcome. And how conveniently the Club is placed, in the centre of the harbour area, yet within fifty yards of a car park, with boats so accessible that it is almost possible to board them straight off the quay wall. Moreover, a member can be afloat at any time-o’-day, regardless of tide tables – the harbour never dries out! This is a dispensation of Providence which is only realised when neighbouring clubs are visited, their programmes being dependent upon times of high and low water.
Then how sheltered are the moorings, protected from the four winds by the tree-covered Nothe on one side, by Georgian terraces on the other, and most probably by a Jersey boat looming gigantic in the narrow harbour. While outside ‘the haven under the hill’ stretches one of the finest pieces of water for yacht racing round the shores of Britain, the Bay being protected by chalk cliffs to the northward, the town to the westward, and the massive rock of Portland with its breakwaters to the southward. The Bay is only unpleasant when the wind blows from the east, creating a horrid popple more sea-sick-making than dangerous.
Yachting is often quoted as ‘the sport of Kings’, but the tricky art of small boat sailing is the sport of poor men too. And what better small boat could one want than a FALCON? Ideal craft for their purpose, cheap to keep in the water, easy to scrub, Bermuda rig, no falals, and able to stand up to any reasonable weather when crewed with three to sit ’em up.
Even in our most optimistic moods we never dreamed when launching the first batch in 1927 – my SPARROWHAWK first of all – that nearly fifty of these little ships would come off the stocks in the next twenty-five years, or that twenty-four would ever be available to take part in a single event. The finding of new names must be quite a problem, all possible falconidae having apparently been used, including such bizarre ones as Katabella, Crecerelle, and Chhil, and such a tongue twister as Iolaire. The other day I discovered a new one – Falconet – and doubtless others will be forthcoming to take their places in the ranks of fame.
In this book the Club now possesses a record of its career from the very beginning. The compilation of these facts and their conversion into literature has, no doubt, been a source of pleasure to the gifted author, but nevertheless, we members are indebted to Jim Hayes for a job of work which has been admirably performed, skill and strategy with the tiller-hand having been transferred to navigation with the pen.