RVSC was founded in the mid 1960’s when there was a growing popularity for sailing. This popularity was encouraged by the availability of marine plywood and some sailing publicity given by national newspapers to boats like the Enterprise, GP14 and Mirror.
Founder members are long gone but names such as Doug Bolton, Dick Johnson, Jeff Pollard, Phil Healey and a newspaperman from the Rossendale Free Press named Robinson (can’t remember his first name) Also involved at that time was Tom Smith.
The Club was formed and a lease was negotiated with Bolton Corporation Waterworks. A sectional building was obtained from (I believe) a cricket club. The building had started life belonging to Whiteacre School Whalley.
In the late ’60s drains were laid by the members, Phil & Brian Robinson, Dick Johnson, Joe Hall, Dave Green, Phil Healy & Dennis Woolas (father of the ex Labour MP) were involved with this. Eventually showers were also added.
Joe Hall was Commodore at this time and the Club recognised Fireball, Scorpion & Mirror as classes for racing. Other classes of boat were labelled “Menagerie” and were a hotchpotch of various class and non-class boats. The Club was pretty strict in ensuring that all members graduated towards the 3 main classes. Racing was organised on Sundays afternoons and Thursday evenings during the summer. Open Meetings were held for Mirror & Scorpion Classes ant this time and many notable sailors attended.
The club had a series of Commodores through the 1970’s, Jeff Pollard, Chris Tomlinson, John Blackburn and Stuart Greenwood.Other Members involved were Dick Johnson, Dennis Woolass Dave Crewe, Joe Winfield and myself, Bernard Winfield.
The Club decided a Singlehander Class was needed and the Laser was frowned upon as being a bit “modern” so the Club adopted the Solo. During this time the racing continued to be popular and 20 boats was not uncommon.
OD and rescue boat duties were shared between the Members on a rota basis and this system worked very well. The Club continued to hold Open meetings and to gain some kudos as being a well-run venue a course was run by a gentleman from Bolton Sailing Club named George Wilson. He was an OD for major events such as the Olympics and other World Championship sailing. Also at this time RYA sponsored race-training was run by Alan & Brian Curran + Carol & Jon Haines from Elton Sailing Club. Carol Haines also ran Sailing Instructor Courses and six RVSC members qualified as Instructors.
A high standard of race organisation was developed and some big open events were held with up to 50 entries. The whole organisation of these events depended on a small group of volunteer OD’s who had a good knowledge of racing, the rules and the requirements of competitors.
The water board were very strict about washing boats and keeping cars off the upper level of the site right up to the 1980’s. In the early years, boats had to be kept on the lower car park too.
Unfortunately the popularity of dinghy racing within the Club was in decline at this time and race entries for Club racing continued to fall. Some decent singlehanders were frequent sailors in the early 1980’s – Names I recall from that time are John Blackburn, myself Bernard Winfield, Barry Noon, Frank Lee, Neil Eatough, Bob Ruttle Chris Meredew and Chris Elliott, they kept singlehanders popular whilst Chris Tomlinson, Phil Robinson and Dick Johnson supported the 2man boats, Scorpions being the main class. A few Fireballs were also sailed Jeff Pollard, Dave Crewe Eric Davis were frequently seen.
The Catering all of this time was of the Pie & Peas variety which was common amongst sailing clubs at the time. Vera Crewe & Maggie Blackburn ran this. The Club had a bar and unfortunately this attracted break-ins due to the isolated site.
Sailboards were just coming on to the scene and after some initial resistance from Dinghy sailors, sailboard members were accepted. Martin Ashby-Smith, Brian Mount were early members.
The old building was in need of repair and a new one was obtained. Stuart Greenwood was Commodore at this time. All the members pitched in and helped in the construction.
The rise of the sailboard popularity really saved the Club from going under at this time. One thing it did NOT DO was enhance the quality of racing, since in the main, sailboards and dinghies needed different conditions and courses to do well. The fragmented nature of the Members preferences i.e. Boards or Dinghies tended to have a negative effect.
The club weathered that storm and has prospered after the building of the new Clubhouse.
The popularity of dinghies has come back, especially with the brand-new facilities but the quality of racing which suffered from the long spell of more boards than dinghies seems to be taking longer to recover.
The Club deserves to get back to the slick race-organisation which was present in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Only pressure from the Members will get that one right.