History of Brighton (Somerton Yacht Club)

History of the Somerton Yacht Club Inc.
(Extract from History of Brighton by H. A. F. Taylor)

The Somerton Sailing Club was formed at a meeting conducted by the Mayor of Brighton(Mr. W. S. Walsh) on February 19, 1945. Approximately 80 residents of the district were present, and a provisional committee, comprising Messrs A. L. Searcy, C. Taylor, V. Jones, H. E. Kolloscheand D. P. Murray, was formed.

During the first season sailing was conducted from a temporary club house near Farrell Street, Glenelg. Mr. W. D. Verco was the club’s first Commodore. Somerton was probably the first South Australian club to have a boat used specifically for rescue operations, Astra, a converted yacht, was purchased in 1946 as the first rescue boat, Somerton Club, which had been sailing ‘VJ’ type yachts, was one of the first clubs to seek affiliation with the newly-formed South Australian Yacht Racing Association in 1946. A permanent club house, built on the foreshore between Whyte Street and College Road, was declared open on January 11, 1947, and about this time the club became an incorporated body. At the annual meeting, August, 1947, Mr. A. L. Searcy was elected Commodore for that season. An indication of the growth of the club can be gained by the fact that for1948/49 season the club provided storage for seven Vanity Class 14-footers, six 12 it Cadet Dinghies, nine ‘VJs’ and three 12 sq. metre Sharpies,

With the introduction of 12 sq. metre Sharpies as the club’s senior class, affiliation with the South Australian 12 sq, metre Association was sought.
Membership for the season 1949/ 50 had grown to 46members, A specially-designed marine engine was installed in the rescue boat Somerton’ in that year, and Mr. W.Andrews was elected Commodore in 1949.

On Monday, May 18, 1953, the Somerton club house was totally destroyed in a storm, together with 11 boats, the property of club members. Two boats were salvaged, almost unharmed, from the wrecked club house, as the rest of the smashed boats were swept out to sea. Immediately efforts were made by the committee to establish a new club house on the John Miller Reserve, but this scheme had many attendant difficulties, and in the meantime the members drifted to other clubs, so that Somerton Club became virtually non-existent.
In September, 1953, a special general meeting changed the name of the club from Somerton Sailing Club to Somerton Yacht Club,

At a meeting on February 10, 1956, it was decided that the club should be revived, and a provisional committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. A. Searcy was appointed to prepare a new constitution, and to enter into negotiation with Mrs. Miller and the Brighton Corporation with a view to leasing part of the John Miller Park on which to build a new club house. Whilst the planning and building operations were being undertaken the club members transported their boats by road on sailing days, and conducted events from Farrell Street, Glenelg. This season, 1956/57, was rather a transitional period, but nevertheless a most successful Invitation Regatta was held, with a total of 41 starters, The annual general meeting of September, 1957, decided to accept the tender of M, C. Wood Limited for the construction of the first part of the new club house The plans provided that the club house should be built in three stages. The first stage, named ‘The John Miller Wing’, cost approximately £3,000, and was opened on December12, 1957, by His Excellency the governor. Sir Robert George. After the opening ceremony Sir Robert, who had graciously accepted the office of patron of the club for 1957 ’58 season, was entertained by the Commodore, Mr. T. G. Flint, aboard the club’s flagship Zam’l.The second and third stages of the building of the clubhouse are expected to follow as finances permit. The lease of the site for the club house was given by the Brighton Corporation for ‘a peppercorn rental’. The officers elected for the 1957/ 58 season were: Commodore, T. G, Flint Vice-Commodore, Mr. R. L. Oaks and secretary, Mr. L. Claridge,