1933 – 1947

By 1933 some sixteen International 14ft.Dinghies were owned by different Members, who numbered amongst its helmsmen some of the leading small boat sailors in the country. However, the Committee, realised that some Members desired something simpler to handle at reasonable cost and initiated a new Class of Henley 12ft.Dinghies, which were built to the specification of the Club. These boats had types of spars and fittings similar to the International 14ft Dinghies and with a Bermuda Cat rig with a high sail plan, they proved to be a fast, sporting, racing Class at little more than a quarter of the cost of the International 14ft. Dinghies.

The steady increase in membership again compelled the Committee to look ahead and in 1933 a vacant plot of ground next to the C1ub premises was acquired. This more than doubled the area of the Club grounds and allowed room for further expansion of the C1ub House and other improvements in the amenities.

Early in 1936 the Yacht Racing Association, the forerunner of the R.Y.A., initiated a new restricted Class of National 12ft. Dinghies, one of these restrictions being a price limit This C1ass rapidly grew in popularity and, was very quickly taken up by Members. From 1936 to 1938 the Henley 12ft. Dinghies and the new National 12ft Dinghies competed together in the same races for the same Challenge Cups, and it is noteworthy that in these years the Henley 12ft. Dinghies carried off eleven out of the twelve Challenge Cups competed for.

In 1939 the National 12ft. Dinghies in the Club had reached the number of ten boats and it was then decided by the Committee that these should race as a separate Class for their own Challenge Cups.

In 1938 the Henley Sailing Club inaugurated for annual competition the Henley Challenge Trophy for 12ft. Dinghies of a sail area not exceeding 100 square feet, open to members of any recognised Yacht or Sailing Club. This was a two days’ Meeting, held early in the season on a course from below Henley Bridge to just above Hambleden Lock, where there is a fine stretch of water.

It was an immediate success and, boats came from all over the country to compete, between 30 and 40 entries being received during the time that it was held. This Meeting became one of the more important Open Meetings for 12ft. Dinghies held in this country.

The outbreak of World War II necessarily suspended the activities of the Club so far as racing was concerned and, from 1940 onwards, there was a cessation of the usual Club races for the various Challenge Cups, of which the Club possessed seventeen for annual competition. But racing did not entirely cease A series of Saturday afternoon races for all Classes, under S.B.A. Rating and Time Allowance, was arranged for by the Committee for each season and this was much appreciated.

In 1946 the racing for the various Challenge Cups was resumed and this year was notable also for the advent of the new Y.R.A ”Firefly” 12ft. Dinghy Class having a moulded plywood hull, with the idea of promoting a cheaper class of racing dinghy. By 1947 there were, already in the Club, two boats of this new Class, which later increased to four, and these dinghies raced with the National 12ft.Dinghy Class for the same Trophies.

In the same year of 1946, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the C1ub, the Vice-Commodore, Mr O. M. Burge, presented the very handsome Henley Jubilee Bowl for Open competition for 14ft. Dinghies with a sail area not exceeding 125 square feet as measured under I.Y.R.U Rules, open to members of any recognised Yacht or Sailing Club. Like the 12ft.Dinghy Open Meeting this was also a two days’ event, held late in the season on the Henley Reach, and it at once attracted enthusiastic support. This meeting was noteworthy as being one of the very few open Meetings in this country where the ”Merlin-Rocket” 14ft. Dinghies were able to compete on level terms with the International and other 14ft. Dinghies, such as the new ”Gannets”. On this account great interest was always evoked in Sailing circles in this Meeting.

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