The 50th Jubilee History of Bardowie was published in 1982 as a result of painstaking research and a lot of work by John Carmichael.
After what seems like an awful lot of extra work we are now able to publish this Book digitally (I would like to give a very special thanks here for the extraordinary effort put in by Elizabeth Maitland of the Glasgow Glenmore Club in doing the entire retype of the document – Liz, in fact, is not even a Member of Bardowie but was quite happy(??) to do this as a friend of the Dinghy Section).
The Book Dinghy Section History is downloadable here as a PDF document and I have selected several extracts below to give you a flavour – the first one in particular should strike a chord with anybody who has a feeling for Bardowie.
Its full style and title is the Clyde Cruising Club Dinghy Section but to thousands of yachtsmen who learned to sail there it is simply Bardowie; and to any sailor the place he or she first experienced the magic of a boat slipping along with only the force of the wind in its sails is a place to remember forever.
“I first sailed round Bardowie Loch single-handed then became more ambitious and did the same thing round the World.”
The first season, a summer of glorious weather, was highly successful although at the General Meeting in November 1933, William Lyall had to comment on the neglect of gear and non-attendance of stewards – which seem familiar themes to modern members!
At that time capsizing, while accepted as an inevitable part of Dinghy sailing, was slightly frowned upon and considered to show lack of skill. A note in the 1936 Journal mentions the number of ‘capsizals” being reduced from 12 to 4 per annum, which was considered to be a very much better performance than in previous years, when in fact the very first “capsizal” by Norrie Chesters was worthy of discussion by the Committee.
There were, of course, restrictions during the War and the principal one at Bardowie was in the form of 15 – 20 ft long logs moored all over the loch to dissuade possible enemy seaplane landing. Their effect on seaplanes was never tested but they were extremely inconvenient to sailors until gradually the moorings, which were rather weak, mysteriously kept parting leaving the logs to drift ashore out of harm’s way.
Eventually in the winter of 1960/61 progress was far enough advanced on the jetty to allow the face of the quay to be built. Steel beams were driven as piles and being opportunists the team took advantage of the ice on the Loch as a pile driving platform. The inevitable happened and as the fourth pile was being driven the ice broke, landing the whole working party in the water!
The first Larks appeared at Bardowie in 1969 about the same time as man landed on the moon, and the difference between them and any previous boats was like comparing a space craft with a biplane.
Throughout the entire 24 hours hot food was available, to the considerable credit of the girls of the Tea Committee. This was also probably their biggest-ever effort, but from the very first opening day successive Tea Committees have provided the most magnificent catering at Bardowie open days, regattas and particularly the Laird Trophy.
The Bardowie Test dates back to 1933 when after several “capsizals” as they were then called, it was recognised that some sort of proficiency had to be established before members could be allowed to take out a boat. The test quickly evolved into sections on knots, racing rules and seamanship, with the first two to be passed before the seamanship.
Although there must be many memorable races, one of Bardowie’s more outstanding victories was at Oban in August 1974. Despite the fact that the wind was blowing smoke up Kerrera Sound the team was determined to go out. Of 8 starters only three finished and by sheer doggedness, and sailing under jib alone, Bardowie had 2 of the finishers and therefore won by simple strength of numbers.
The first dinghies were solidly built, planked boats with wooden spars and cotton sails. A jacket and tie was common wear for sailing and capsizing was a major event. There were no rescue boats or lifejackets. Fifty years later, the boats are built of lightweight moulded fibreglass with a minimum of woodwork. They have metal spars and terylene sails, but their cost has jumped to one hundred times that of the first boats. Capsizing is commonplace and wet suit and lifejacket are the order of the day, with a high speed rescue boat to deal with emergencies.
Sailing at Bardowie has never stopped for 50 years, throughout the War, two destructive fires and several Sub-Committees seeking to direct its ways. The Bardowie experiment of 1932 is as unique in the sailing world today as it was then and there can be no doubt that it has been a success.