The Howick Sailing Club began in 1933 through the active enthusiasm of a Howick yachtsman, Mr John Kyd. On the 21st of August that year, Mr Kyd convened a meeting of Howick people, who were interested in boating activities, for the purpose of forming a local sailing club. The meeting took place in the old Howick Library (which is now the court house sited at the Howick Colonial Village). Mr Kyd was elected the first Commodore and sailing began with a membership of 34 and a fleet of 6 boats ranging from Zeddies to 16-footers.
The headquarters were set up in a garage owned by Mr Tom Granger. In 1933 most of the land at the water’s edge was still privately owned.
A racing calendar was arranged for the 1933-34 season commencing with Opening Day on Labour Day, October 23rd, and fortnightly thereafter until April 1934. The first ever race started with a bang from a borrowed shot gun. Four boats started off the end of the wharf on a cold and squally day, Mistral (J A Kyd), Rival (G A Newton), Caried (Misses A & M Cave) and Janet (C & J Barber). A keenly fought race over the Club's course resulted in a win for the experienced Mistral crew.
After the boats came back to the beach, the race was re-sailed by skippers and crews in friendly arguments over the many incidents which had occurred, involving port and starboard tack situations, the luffing of windward boats and of course the old question of buoy room when rounding marks. The after-race discussion became a regular event and was almost as exciting as the racing itself.
The duty of laying the marks for the course was the responsibility of the yacht rostered for the day and after the race “post-mortem" was settled, the boat concerned would then have to sail the course again to pick up the marks. There were no patrol or rescue boats to call upon in those days.
The Sailing Club prospered in its first summer and by the end of the season ten yachts, 14 & 16 footers, were actively racing together. Racing continued in a similar pattern through to the 1937-38 season, but war-time activities caused the club to go into recess from 1939 until 1946.
In January 1946, the Club was reformed and a sailing programme for the remainder of that season began. The Sailing Club fleet consisted of a 22ft Mullet Boat, three Y class (14ft hard chine), two Z class, a T class, a Silver Fern, an Idle Along and a Frostbite.
Commodore for the first year was Mr A. Johnson. The following year Mr Bert Wilson became Commodore and remained at the helm for the next twelve years. Most of the boats, being very heavy, were kept anchored in the bay and hauled ashore on rollers in bad weather. Racing was a bit hit and miss before the availability of a patrol boat. If anyone got into difficulties, other competitors would render assistance. A capsize of course, meant a sinking and a tow home was the only alternative.
Races were started at this time by officials seated on the top deck of the remaining central portion of the old Howick wharf, about half way to low tide mark. The 1947, 48, 49 seasons saw the growth of the fleet to include five more Y class, four additional X class, three Idle Along’s and another Frostbite. Handicapping was very important. The 1949/50 season saw a peak in numbers of boats up to 14ft, most of which were 10 or more years old, however the members were soon in for a shock. Two sailors from Onehunga arrived one day and carried an International 14 down to the water’s edge and then proceeded to thrash everything we had as it raced around the course! The days of 25 mil kauri hulls, large sails and larger crews were numbered, so by 1952 the 14 footers had disappeared. With the availability now of marine plywood, a new trend in boat-building was beginning.
Howick Beach, Beach Road, PO Box 38 099, Howick 2145