The Yacht Club (now renamed Worthing Sailing Club) was originally founded by former members of Worthing Sailing Club who had become disillusioned with the increasing social membership and decreasing interest in sailing within the club. The keen sailing element of WSC set up a new club to concentrate more on sailing and erected the original clubhouse within the confines of the existing boat park on land obtained from the local council.
As the popularity of the sport grew throughout the 1960s, the number of dinghies in the compound increased to some 200 and space was at a premium. The membership at that time raised the necessary funds to move into a new clubhouse which is now a residential property next to the current clubhouse. The club continued to thrive with large dinghy fleets of Seafly, Scorpion, Heron and Mirror classes. There was the annual Worthing Regatta and Sailing week with fleets of up to 150 boats attending regularly. These were joined in the 1970s by 505, Cherub, International Moth and Lasers with a mixture of fleet racing and handicap racing of fast and slow fleets. The Unicorn catamaran was developed at the club to be followed in the late 1980s by the newly designed Dart 18.
Considerable effort by the members during the 1980s and a substantial grant from the Sports Council resulted in the erection of the current clubhouse. This was fitted out by members and formally opened by Sir Alec Rose in March 1990. This new building was specifically designed as a sailing club and has been continuously improved by the members over the years.
During the late 1980s and 1990s the popular classes in the club changed with catamaran classes and the Dart 18, in particular, becoming dominant. The wide open water at Worthing is well suited to catamaran racing and during the 1990s WSC became established as one of the premier cat clubs in the UK. In recent years there has been further changes with several Dart 18 sailors moving on to F18 competition and other more challenging classes such as the Spitfire. A rapidly emerging junior section has spawned a growing Laser and Laser Pico fleet though it has to be admitted that the Lasers and Picos are not always helmed by juniors. Newer catamaran classes like the resilient Dart 16 have also joined in the last few years.
The club has benefitted from the continuing popularity of windsurfing in the region and a substantial percentage of members either join as windsurfing members or enjoy both sports. Windsurfers generally revel in winds above Force 5 (unless they are learning) whereas dinghy sailors prefer winds less than Force 6 (unless they are psychotic). Thus the two sports are infinitely compatible. The windsurfers bring a fresh dimension to the club by way of freestyle sailing, wave jumping and wave riding rather than racing. Worthing offers some of the most challenging windsurfing on the south coast which is evident from the popularity of the location on windy days.
As time goes on, the members look forward to what the coming years might bring by way of developments in the sport and to emerging sports like kitesurfing which have taken off and become very popular in Worthing. The club will continue to be run by its members for its members relying on the experience and skill of the membership to help it continue to develop and improve. All are welcome and the club prides itself on making new members feel at home very quickly.
Janice Duncan (Former Commodore)