Hollyburn Sailing Club has been an integral part of the West Vancouver waterfront for over thirty years, and is conveniently located next to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. Hollyburn Sailing Club, a dream of a few dedicated people in the spring of 1963, became a reality in June of the same year. Doug Sutherland and Roy Holland met at that time with a group of interested parents to form a dinghy sailing club with the main objective of training North Shore children seamanship. With the blessing of the District of West Vancouver and the West Vancouver Parks and Recreation Commission, it was arranged that Hollyburn Sailing Club could store dinghies on 100 feet of foreshore next to Ambleside Boat Rental. In October of that year, the Club acquired its first “clubhouse”, an old garage. It was renovated, beautified, and served the club for seven years. Over the years, the Club has undergone many changes. New clubhouses, a permanent ramp, its own fleet of training vessels, and an increased property for boat storage to a name just a few. Though the Club has experienced these and other changes over the course of its life, the basic principle on which the Club was founded remains today.
2009 saw the first kayaker assume the role of Commodore: Steve Britten took the Sailpast salute in May aboard Lionel Tolan’s keelboat Penguin and entertained West Vancouver Councillor Trish Panz at the cake-cutting ceremony. As with the Mayor in 2008, Councillor Panz praised the club for the role it has played in teaching the children of the North Shore to sail over the past 46 years. Thanks to a particularly hot summer and active recruitment in the schools, the training program enjoyed another safe, and solid, season. Club membership also grew beyond budgeted levels, leaving the club in a sound financial position. Communication continued with the District of West Vancouver on both the lease extension and the long-terms plans for Ambleside Park. The club took an active role in community events with a particularly good turnout in the West Vancouver Parade in June. The policy of moving old inactive boats out of the yard was continued, and fresh storage and locker space was provided to new members. The clubhouse was given a new set of stairs leading up to the main floor and a fireplace was added to keep the clubhouse warm in the winter.
During Mike Cairns’ second term in 2007 many new members – both sailors and kayakers – joined. A fourth kayak rack was installed and a Novurania inflatable safety boat was purchased, fitted with a steering console and a 25hp four-stroke motor – greatly improving the club’s safety and rescue capabilities. All the club fleets – members, training, Co-op and kayak – saw significant growth and upgrading. Four new Vanguard 420s plus sturdy new dollies brought the 420 training fleet up to a total of six boats. The club website was expanded with the addition of a web-cam to enable members to gauge from their homes the wind, sea, and sky conditions out over the bay. The club’s 2008 Commodore Bernard Besseling enjoyed the support of a dedicated Executive, most of whom continued to serve into the 2009 year. Several disused boats were removed from the boat yard as part of the effort to provide space for the burgeoning number of new members. West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones was invited to attend the Sailpast, and for the fifth time in the club’s history the heavy winds and rough seas turned it into a “walk past”. The club’s strong record of community involvement and youth training programs were recognized and applauded by the Mayor in her address.
Former Fleet Captain Heather Drugge assumed the position of Commodore in 2005. Under her guidance the training program made changes to the registration system, with bookings going through West Vancouver Recreation Services instead of through a volunteer member. The junior racing team benefited from the purchase and refurbishment of a multi-boat road trailer to facilitate their travel to regattas. Our members represented the club’s interests at meetings regarding the Ambleside Master Park Plan, and were pleased to note that the club continues to maintain a central role in the park well into the foreseeable future. Mike Cairns became the second person to serve two terms as club Commodore – in 2006 and 2007. His first term saw some significant changes in the boat yard layout: the three kayak racks were moved to their present positions closer to the clubhouse building, which enabled the sail training school an increased – and safer – open rigging area. There was much conjecture about municipal proposals for a wholly revised ground plan for Ambleside Beach, the Park, and Recreation usage. The club was assured once again of continued prime usage of the area, with plans showing that the clubhouse may move to the north-west; a continuous seawall walkway running along the shore; a new boat launch area at the 13th Street entrance; and a new much larger jetty at the existing pier, planned for a pedestrian ferry to Vancouver.
Neil Carroll took the helm in 2004, and apart from a very active sailing program he introduced Celtic music sessions to the club – a tradition that has flourished ever since. With the help of a donation from the Mitel Corporation the club hosted its first Annual Invitational Regatta, in which over 25 boats participated. The regular 2004 racing season was also very active and 24 racing events were scheduled. Members also enjoyed a revival of the traditional Sailpast banquet – held at the Park Royal Hotel – and took part in a variety of social events. It was also a busy year for the training program and a new initiative was undertaken during May and June: the club offered a one-day sailing program to schools on the North Shore, for children from Grades 6 to 12. Three schools participated. Head Instructor Daniel Cowan developed a keen racing team of 12 juniors, and they participated in regattas as far afield as Victoria and Okanagan Lake. The training fleet benefited from the purchase of two new 420s which were also used for racing. Ground space management was actively addressed and we saw a net increase in boats: 20 out and 27 in, and successfully placed all of the boats on the wait-list. The addition of a third kayak rack greatly helped the storage requirements of both the growing number of kayak members and led to the purchase of four Co-op kayaks. This in turn allowed the new kayak training initiative to build on a solid base, and a kayak instructor was found to provide lessons on Saturday mornings. The new lease was finally negotiated with the municipality – and due largely to members’ service and standing within the West Vancouver community – the club was successful in achieving very favourable terms.
Commodore Mel Turner encouraged kayak membership in 2001 with a new storage rack and a kayak representative on the Executive. The License of Occupation issue with the municipality continued to drag on. The year also saw an increase in spending funded by provincial government casino grants, for the purchase of new boats and equipment, as well as new Laser racks. The great winter storm at the start of 2002 resulted in an impressive turnout of members to clean up the mess, rebuild the front wall of the Zodiac storage area, and generally help Commodore Dan Campbell and the Executive. Membership numbers increased with more active recruiting, and the introduction of the Co-op Boat Program. Club members went cruising again with a weekend at Halket Bay and a 10-day jaunt up the coast. Plans began to be made to celebrate the 40th anniversary. The club celebrated its 40th anniversary in style in 2003. Commodore Norah Corbet was joined by 17 past-Commodores and 200 guests for speeches, awards, cake, and racing. The occasion was organized by past-Commodore Dan Campbell and Fleet Captain Heather Drugge – who also joined the August club trip to Desolation Sound, and who sailed back to Ambleside in Mirrors.
Under Commodore Peter Shantz two new Pirates and a new Zodiac and motor were purchased from the club’s second Charity Casino in 1997. A paid Race Committee was tried for many of the summer races, allowing more club members to race. The Sabots and Enterprises continued to show the strongest participation. Many of the staff and students displayed excellence once again in the training program, and a number of students won or placed in local and provincial regattas. A club face-lift was a major project in April 1998, with many members wrecking and redecking the Forward Deck before contractors installed a new vinyl deck and a new aluminum-and-glass railing. Sadly Commodore Yvonne Connolly and her husband Kevin were to move back east in September and their goodbye barbecues were well attended. During 1999 and 2000 Stuart Swain became the first Commodore to serve a two-year term. Discussions with the District of West Vancouver regarding the License of Occupation continued but nothing was resolved. A number of our top students were coached to successes in local regattas, and the clubhouse was extensively repainted, and received a new roof.
The 1995 year was very active for Commodore Bryce Porter with major regattas in the Tasar, Enterprise and Sabot classes, as well as an encouraging training program, and social events – and sound finances which were improved by a successful Casino event that raised over $20,000. This permitted an upgrade of the training boats and equipment, as well as the purchase of two new Pirate sailboats and the rebuilding of the Laser II fleet. The club hosted a well-attended national regatta for the Enterprise class, with participants from across Canada and the United States. The hosting – once again – of the Canam Tasar Regatta was very successful and competitive, and was enjoyed by all the Canadian and U.S. participants. Solid teamwork helped in the upgrading of club boats and facilities and in spreading the burden of running the club. 1996 – under Commodore Denice Rose – saw repairs to the sagging front/eastern half of the Forward Deck. Teleposts were installed to adjust foundation support to guard against beachfront erosion from storms and high tides. New kitchenware was bought. A two-year trial program on storage of natural-powered boats was begun in April, as some space had become available in racks and ground areas. The training program remained strong, and two more Pirate boats and Laser-IIs were purchased.
The New Year’s Day races in 1993 were becalmed. Undaunted, the race committee organized an amphibious event: a foot-race across the snow-covered beach and around a mark standing in two feet of water! Under Commodore Ken Reine, for the 30th anniversary many past-Commodores – some of whom were no longer active in the club – came by to renew old friendships and spin yarns about other sailing seasons. During the year we also concluded a two-year debate to amend the club constitution and by-laws to fit with contemporary practices. This was also the year in which we renewed our tenure on the land we occupy. On expiry of the previous five-year lease it was replaced with a five-year License of Occupation. The District of West Vancouver is better able to renew such agreements under the Municipal Act. The club was assured that the HSC is seen as an integral part of the waterfront redevelopment of Ambleside. In 1994 the Sabot class continued its revival under Commodore Jim Forward, with some new boats constructed at the club and others purchased and rebuilt. A fleet-replacement program was initiated and two used Flying Juniors were purchased, then upgraded. The racing season was successful with a good turnout of Tasars, Enterprises, and Sabots.
The new pier at the foot of 14th Street was officially opened On Ambleside Marine Day – May 5th 1990 – with the club taking part in a special race started by Mayor Don Lanskail. The Sailpast the following day was a “walk past” for only the third time in the club’s history. The wind and waves were too strong for Commodore Ann Watson to take the salute on the water. The refurbishing of the training fleet was a major project for this year: one replacement FJ was purchased and the others were thoroughly overhauled. New sails were ordered for the Lasers and new rigging for the Laser II. The juniors were very active, taking part in many of the club sailing events and outside regattas. In 1991 the interior of the club was extensively renovated under Commodore Martin Ellis-White. The Forward Deck was recovered and the ramp received major repairs. Social activities were well attended and the Sabot and Tasar fleets were particularly active, providing spectators plenty of demonstrations in the art of small sailboat racing. Final touches on the newly-renovated club were completed in 1992. Commodore Lesley Kennedy was the fourth Commodore to have a “walk past” due to heavy winds and high seas. The club hosted the second Canam Tasar Regatta with 25 Tasars coming from other parts of Vancouver and across the U.S. border. A fix-up and new paint improved the Laser racks while a reassignment of space allowed the fleets to remain close together.
The club celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1988 under Commodore Stuart Lamb, and a number of long-range plans and dreams were brought to fruition. The long-term lease was negotiated, the expansion plans were approved by the municipality, and with the enthusiastic assistance of the many talented members of the club, the balcony was extended and a large new boat storage room constructed beneath it, while fully-serviced change rooms and classrooms were constructed in the old boat storage and repair areas. This was made possible by using part of the capital funds put aside in previous years. The “Forward Deck” was an instant success for social activities, and the creature comforts of furnishings and carpets donated by members led to major increases in attendance at club social events. Another successful innovation in 1988 was the appointment of a Summer Manager to care for the facilities during the busy summer season. To top the year off the training program showed record enrolment despite the cutting back on sail-board lessons. Tony Cohen was the last Commodore of the eighties. The final touches were made to the clubhouse and it was repainted in keeping with the Ambleside Rejuvenation Project initiated by the municipality. For the first time, a formal budget was prepared at the beginning of the year, by which the club’s financial affairs were managed. The training program had proven to be both a sailing and a financial success.
The club’s activities grew during 1984 under Commodore John Redworth: the club doubled its Laser II fleet and acquired two additional Lasers to round off the year with a training fleet of 15 boats. Sailboards became involved in all aspects of the club in 1985 – including Sailpast – and four boards were purchased for classes. Commodore John Millen organized an ambitious cruise to the southern Gulf Islands in which five boats participated. Junior members competed in a number of regional regattas. The club recorded another memorable year in 1986 under Commodore Andy Baak. The scope of the training program was expanded and the club provided 1,224 hours of lessons on the sailboards, in addition to the 220 students enrolling in the regular sailing program. Many of the club’s members – notably juniors – participated in the North American Laser and Tasar regattas, as well as in the Canadian Youth Championships held as part of the Expo 86 celebrations in Vancouver. 1987 was a watershed year for the club, under Commodore Tyke Babalos. After many attempts the club received preliminary approval from the District of West Vancouver for a lease with a total term of 10 years. Plans to expand the club were drawn up by Jim Forward, and approved by the members at the Annual General Meeting.
1982 saw female members emerge to take the positions of Commodore and Fleet Captain. Under Commodore Anne Baird two more Lasers were added to the club-owned fleet. The three club Lasers were in constant demand for club events, which saw increased participation. Within two decades the training program – the principal objective in the formation of the club in 1963 – had grown to 292 students. The club celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1983. The Sailpast brought together many of our founding members and past-Commodores, who came to celebrate the occasion and receive Commodore Hugh Johnston’s salute. Family oriented events were expanded to include a Family Fun Sunday of novelty races, and a weekend cruise and camp-out to Furry Creek in Howe Sound. The Commodore’s Cruise followed with a voyage to Texada Island and beyond. An added fixture on the racing program was the Canada Day Regatta, endowed with a perpetual trophy and open to the public in all dinghy classes. The club Fireballs were retired and replaced with Laser IIs in order to improve the quality of our training fleet.
During 1977, under Commodore Bill Harland’s leadership the club facilities were expanded by the addition of 12 rack-storage spaces for Lasers, and the east porch was constructed to prevent wind-driven rain damage. The club was brilliantly represented in the Women’s National Championships at St. Zotique, Quebec by Melinda Straight (single-handed – 3rd), and Sandy Norris and Jan Proceviat (Skipper and crew – 1st). The following year Sandy and Jan represented Canada in the Women’s World Championships in Europe. Membership and club activities continued to grow under the guidance of Commodore Duncan Whammond, and another 12 boat racks were constructed. In 1979 Commodore Chuck Willet oversaw the old Sabot rack being replaced by an enlarged rack capable of storing 40 small boats. The ramp was extended to the low, low-water mark. In 1980 Commodore Keith Danson-Brassey took the salute at the Sailpast in May, under ideal sailing conditions. The clubhouse was re-stained; the grounds were blacktopped; and fencing was erected – giving a much-needed facelift to the area. Two Fireballs and a Laser were added to the club’s training fleet in 1981 to provide students with experience in high-performance craft. With Commodore Tony Boyd in attendance the first club overnight cruise proved to be a popular innovation, with a fleet sailing to Plumper Cove on Keats Island.
Under Commodore Myron Balago the club carried out an active sailing program in 1971 and this continued the following year under Commodore Max Jackisch with training programs for both juniors and seniors. Eight new Flying Junior sailboats were purchased, and the old ones sold. Under Commodore Duncan Tennant the club facilities were upgraded by enclosing the lower portion of the building and providing storage lockers for members. The club continued to operate smoothly under Commodore Werner Humer and the training programs had, by then, been successfully enlarged to include juniors, seniors, and ladies. The winter of 1974 and the spring of 1975 brought several storms, one of which caused extensive damage to the Dundarave Pier – as well as large sections of the seawall, the club’s own launching ramp, and a portion of the original wall in front of the clubhouse. Under Commodore Bill Reid some 80 feet of ramp and 10 feet of frontage were replaced using heavily reinforced concrete. The new ramp was put to the test during another storm in July, without damage. Activities got off to an enthusiastic start under Commodore Howard Fenson in 1976, with the largest turnout ever for Sailpast under sunny skies. The new Hobie 10s proved to be a popular addition to the club’s training fleet. Duty boats and motors were maintained in top condition through a planned replacement program, and the Ladies’ Committee welcomed our new fully automatic cooking range.
In 1966 the club had its first major capital expense: by now it had developed a sound training program that had become increasingly popular on the North Shore, and after a lively discussion the club decided to buy six Flying Juniors and five Sabots for the program. Also under Commodore Deryck Thomson, the first attempt was made to build a permanent ramp. However, a gale destroyed this effort – but it was obvious that the club required a good concrete ramp. In 1967, under Commodore Lorne Drummond, the club was finally successful in laying the first section of its ramp using concrete blocks, donated by Hooker Chemicals. That ramp became the foundation of the present ramp. The new ramp was too short, and the following year, under Commodore Jack Emslie it was extended as close as possible to the low water mark. Other fleets rapidly developed at the club, so that it was no longer a Sabot club. The need for a new club facility was becoming more and more apparent and it was discussed at great length during 1968. Commodore Ken Martin got the project started the following year, and with the addition of further land from the District, the clubhouse developed into its present form. On May 10, 1970 Commodore Gordon Shugg officiated at the opening of the new clubhouse.
The first Executive was formed under Commodore Des LeFlufy. With an informal training program of 31 families and 12 juniors, the club was on its way. In October of that year the club acquired its first “clubhouse”, an old donated garage. The garage was renovated and beautified, and it served the club for the next seven years. The first Frostbite Series was started that November, with seven boats participating. By the second year the membership had increased to 75 families with 125 juniors. On May 17, 1964, Commodore Roy Holland opened the season with the club’s first Sailpast with 65 boats in attendance. The club was developing as a strong Sabot club, and in August of that year it was granted a second strip of land. In September 1964 the club held its first invitational regatta from Dundarave Pier. The membership grew steadily and under Commodore Doug Sutherland the club added another strip of land to its storage area. In February 1965 the club became a member of the Canadian Yachting Association. More and bigger boats joined, and without a ramp, the bigger boats had to be launched at Ambleside Boat Rental.