A brief History of the Kessingland Sea Sailing Club

Following an advertisement placed in the Lowestoft Journal in the summer of 1964 by Mr. Rob Straton, 50 dinghy sailors met at "The Sailors Home" public house, Kessingland, to form the Kessingland Sea Sailing Club ‑ the club sailed from the beach. The first club house (courtesy of Mr. Stanley 'Cock Robin' Brown) was a fisherman's hut. Dinghy classes sailed included G.P.14's, Enterprises, Merlin Rockets, Ospreys and National Hornets.


1964    Rob Straton.   

1965 Sid McMeekin - The Club started to organise cruises / races to Southwold and round the Navigation Buoys.

1966  G.E. "Trader" Horne ‑ Around this time there were moves afoot to secure a plot of land on the actual sea front ... Members Peter Colby and Brian Hume persuaded Mrs. Woolfield to sell a parcel of land near the Denes Holiday Camp.

1967 Les Watkins ‑ The plans were being studied, and site clearing commenced, Derek Lyne's design‑Clubhouse began to take shape. All this time Beach Fetes & Barbecues were taking place, to raise money. (A grant was obtained from the Playing Fields Association)

1968 Peter Hancock - Notable Event, Opening of the new Clubhouse, changing rooms, canteen, rescue boat storage ... plenty of car parking space.

1969    Dr. Steven Nicol - Membership was some 183 with 40 Fireballs, with more equipment being purchased, marks, compass, anchors etc..

1970 Peter Colby - What fun we had! Those marvellous fleets, tough competition... Peter organised the building of 10 new Fireballs, so we had the benefit of quantity terms for masts and sails, etc.

1971    Brian Whitlow ‑ aided by helms woman Pat Whitlow, showed us the way round on those light air races ... the fund raising went on apace.

1972 Brian Hume ‑ with Peter Colby; started planning for a new Clubhouse, running The Lowestoft Trade Fare.

1973   Peter Colby - The Lowestoft Trade Fare at Gunton Hall, a great success, and the plans were well advanced for the building of the new Clubhouse, interconnecting the adjoining original building. Footings in, building commenced with the racing going on just the same.

1974 Peter Colby - The Clubhouse was formally opened with Mrs. Woolfield, the Commodore, Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club, Frank Dunne, Esq. broaching the champagne, in September ‑ with many Past Commodores, Members old and new. As soon as the festivities were over racing commenced for the Woolfield Trophy (a gift from Mrs. Woolfield, whose late husband won it outright in the 1914 Kessingland Regatta)

1975 Sid Pretty - Sid set about getting the racing organised to take advantage of the improved facilities, and set about furnishing the Bar area. Dick Coleman was active on the furnishing front.

1976   Stan Beckett with Billy Nicholls recruited as Rear Commodore & Social Secretary, the bar profits soared to a record. Billy was always running events to stimulate sales ‑ one of these was the "Mirror" National Rally, entertaining 44 Mirrors with their crews and their families for cruises and racing every day. That passage race on the last day to Southwold and return, in a gale, will long be remembered.

1977    Stan Beckett ‑ concentrating on the sailing and social events.

1978     Eric Garrett - The Club was devastated by the wrecking of the 'Eleni V' oil tanker off the Suffolk coast - the pollution wrecked the sailing programme and the Javelin Nationals laid on for a week, had to be postponed and when they took place in a later weekend, were a disappointment ... the Club never really recovered from this.

1979   Brian Burleigh / Paul Parrivani - Brian resigned from Commodore halfway through the year. Paul fortunately picked up the reins and did a good job ...

 1980   Barry Naylor - Barry, perfectionist that he is, set about making sure that everything worked and that the racing was exciting and accurate ... and we still had plenty of social events ...

1981   Graham Ling - With Graham’s son, John "Topper" champion, they started trying to get the "Topper nationals" at KSSC and it was promised for 1983.

1982    Graham Ling, aided by wife Gwen, started feeding us gourmet meals at a very keen price, which raised some good money. The “Topper nationals” definitely on for next year, and planning was taking place.

 1983    Eric Garrett - Eric's meticulous planning with sons Ian and David with Graham's help as fleet captain, with Barry Naylor as Race Officer... 104 boats, with families billeted at Wild Life Park, a full week, very successful ‑ the windy 1st race won by John Ling beating the eventual National Champion John Craig, an ex Fireball Champion. A tremendous amount of work accomplished by a diminishing membership, but still very successful.

1984    Peter Taylor - The work he put in to try and keep the Club alive!

1985‑6‑7‑8‑9 Stan Beckett - Clubhouse was put up for auction at £45,000; withdrawn by S.B. on a hunch and finally sold by Dick Coleman for some £82,000 which was invested in a safe High-Interest account. In 1989 membership closed to protect assets.

Editor's comment:  Stan, as usual, has been far too modest in covering this period. Without him the club would have folded, its assets sold off and frittered away.

 1990‑1‑2‑3‑4 Stan Beckett - Following a suggestion by Richard Debenham, the concept of big boat sailing was borne. This idea was enthusiastically backed by Stan and the rest of the committee. Richard Debenham and various members of the committee, travelled hundreds of miles in search of a suitable boat at the right price. ‘Explorer' was eventually purchased at an M.O.D. auction by R. Coleman and R. Debenham on behalf of the KSSC. At the 1991 AGM the club was re‑opened for membership, although new members would only have very limited voting rights. The 1993 AGM saw the sweeping away of the two‑tier membership system and the introduction of a common membership for all.

1991 Explorer our Contessa 32 purchased from the Ministry of Defence, in November 1991. She was purchased at auction by Dick Coleman and Richard Debenham as Explorer. (Explorer was originally named ‘Crusader’ and renamed by the Joint Services Sailing Club as ‘Explorer’. John Bird suspects that they wanted to retain the name of Crusader, but that’s only his guess).

1995-6-7   Richard Coleman - Dick joined the club at its inception and was the only remaining founder-member. He had been intimately involved for most of the past 35 years. He was an ideas man who coaxed his ideas to reality. For current members it is enough to say that he supervised the purchase of Explorer, revised the constitution and hand-picked most of the General Committee. Dick along with Peter Colby, was instrumental in sorting out the adventure in Portugal. The sloop “Edna May” was purchased and based at Vilamoura on the Portuguese Algarve.

1998      Paul Noton became Commodore

2001      Edna May sold and Deuxieme Amour, a 34ft Bavaria, purchased in Cala-D’Or Marina, Mallorca. Exciting sailing in the Western Med.

2003     Deuxieme Amour moved from Mallorca to Barcelona, Port Olympic marina – built for the 92 Barcelona Games. Well located but very noisy in summer!

2004      Deuxieme Amour moved to Port Vell Marina, central Barcelona.  We took a stand at the first Lowestoft Boat Show, a great success.  Deuxieme Amour moved to Palamos, Spain for winter lay-up.

2005       Deuxieme Amour moved to Port Napoleon in SW France, then at  the end of the year to Port Rontondo, Sardinia, Italy.

2006       Deuxieme Amour stayed in Sardinia and had its most successful year to date.  

2007       We bought Ploes, a 40ft Bavaria berthed at Alimos Marina, Kalamati, Greece and Deuxieme Amour was put up for sale. In December Ploes was moved to Port Olympic Marina, Lavrion, S.E. Greece.                                                            

2008      Ploes remained at Port Olympic and was used many more times than in previous years. We debated whether the Club should become a CASC in order to be more tax efficient to help our income. It was deferred. Deuxieme Amour was sold in April and sailed back to the Balearic Islands, from where she was originally purchased.

2009      Ploes remained at Port Olympic Marina, Lavrion again and was well used although many were tested by the Meltemi – the prevailing, near gale force winds.  Explorer had her best year for some time.

2010       Ploes moved to Ece Saray Marina, Fethiye,Turkey, which was very popular with all who went. Explorer went to the Firth of Forth & back.                     

2011      John Bird takes over as Commodore at the AGM. Ploes stays at Fethiye for a second successful season as voted for at the AGM. Explorer makes good passage to Holland but at the end of the season is found to have serious defects to the mast.  

2012      Ploes has a third season at Fethiye by popular vote. Explorer sails to Levington for extensive repairs to mast & rigging. Sails to Holland in July and August for the Rotterdam Jazz Festival and back-to-back cruising on the Dutch Inland Waterways.

2013     Ploes has her 4th successful season at Fethiye and at the AGM it was agreed she would remain at Ece Saray Marina for the 2014 season. Explorer used on the UK East Coast and a short cruise to Holland.

2014     Our President Stan Beckett sadly passed away on 11th September. The Club forms an Affiliation with the Adastral Park Sailing Club based at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Levington on the River Orwell. Ploes is cruised to Greece by Peter Johnson & crew in October to avoid paying Turkish VAT and returns to Fethiye for her 5th winter.

2015     Another successful year at Fethiye for Ploes. Sadly, we lose Peter Johnson in April – the same weekend as our Fitting-Out Supper. Explorer has a good year at SYH Levington although two cruising incidents off the East Coast give some cause for concern.

2016    A good year for both boats and Explorer is used more. We sadly lost Laurie Rainger late in the year. John Bird steps down as Commodore and James Parnell takes over.

2017    Another good year. Explorer’s summer cruise saw her crossing the English Channel a number of times. Ploes use is good again. Recruitment of members is becoming a concern.

2018    An excellent year. Explorer’s summer cruise saw her making a trip to the South coast and crossing to the Channel islands. Ploes travelled up to Bodrum twice this year and good use was made of her again at 10 weeks use but more weeks could have been booked. Recruitment of members is being actively pursued.