The Saratoga Sailing Club (SSC) officially opened in 1972. The club original founders were a group of very enthusiastic 12 foot skiff sailors who were also involved in the early days with the Abbotsford sailing club. Colin (Col) Miller, Peter Astara , Neil Dahl, Tom Goddard, and John Usher were some of the local "Hot shots" in those days.
The club in its early days was made up of mainly hard working ausssie "tradies" (Tradesman) or blue collar members who had the good fortune to pay the princely sum of just $2.00 for membership.
Sailing was going on well before the sea wall was built in the late 70's in Wharf Road (Now Centennial Avenue) and the area had a sandy beach where boats were launched. The early races were started by the lowering of a suitable hanky off the Saratoga Public Wharf much to the delight of onlookers as the races were started close inshore along the beach front foreshore. Saratoga was a small village in those days and everyone was well known in the community so a little spruiking at the local school and everyone would come down and do some sailing.
Brothers Don and Brian Lamb, with Don on the helm and Brian on spinnaker in their Flying 11 at SSC in the early seventies. The photo was likely taken by Mr Coleman (Snr) on the committee boat with Geoff "The Judge" Lamb to adjudicate at the finish line. Geoff later graduated to the club Sabot. Rohan Coleman (Jnr), sailed a scow moth in the mixed fleet.
Before the sailing clubs were incorporated as they are now in modern times and associated to the YAI (Yachting Australia Inc) known as the YA (Yachting Association) and also known Internationally as AYF (Australian Yachting Federation) the SSC had a Constitution and the original flag was just the black letters SSC.
This changed to a pale blue and white flag with a stylised skiff in the center.
Since 2008 and a modernisation of the club colours and logo, a new red white and blue Burgee was selected from many designs submitted and this incorporates the Australian flag colours and takes with it the old logo to ensure links to the past are retained.
A likely position for a new club house was sought in the late 70's and the SSC moved operations to the Saratoga Oval and leased from Gosford Council, storage shed adjacent to the existing tennis courts for some years. This acted as a canteen and storage area for the club Sabots. It was in the era where Australia had "Dunny Cans" (lavatory). "The 'Dunny Man' would come very early in the morning to change cans, the contents of which he sometimes spilled on the back lawn.
Timing had to be right when visiting the dunny if the dunny man was due because he would usually only give a quick knock on the back of the dunny before quickly removing the full pan and replacing it with a new one."
The dinghies were wheeled over the Saratoga oval and the young lads used to ensure local neighbours some entertaining antics.
In the 70's, 80's and 90's there were always lots of junior sailors, particularly on regatta days. The Canteen would be run by the dedicated mothers and wives of the sailors and a beer keg was the popular beverage of the day.
1975 - The days of the Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister from December 1972 to November 1975 brought a massive and highly stimulating Regional Employment And Development (RED) Scheme. It is under the program that funding was acquired and labour available to assist with building the existing club at its current location on Crown Land to the Saratoga point. A local shipwright supervised the building of the club at the location in the late 70's.
Importantly the club was assisted after the May 1976 State election by the late Brian McGowan the former Labor member for Gosford and Gosford City Councillor. Brian donated a boat and is now remembered as you cross the bridge running to the large sports stadium (Graham Park or Central Coast Stadium, previously Bluetongue stadium) in Gosford. The main roads bridge is named the Brian McGowan Bridge, recognising his commitment to the local area. The stadium is home to the Central Coast Mariners association football club which competes in the A-League and adjacent to the proposed redevelopment of the Gosford waterfront.
The slab for the club was a community event with the Sabot kids wiring the reinforcing for the slab prior to concreting. In the first construction, the club had a very high ceiling so that a second floor could be built at a later date so there was only a concrete bottom floor and a canteen. To help fund and build the second floor the club sold bricks at $10.00 a brick.
A second floor was always wanted as in those days all the clubhouses had a traditional clubhouse style with boat storage under and a meeting / social area upstairs.
On the 8th November 1990 the Saratoga Sailing Club became incorporated as the Saratoga Sailing Club Inc. A set of rules governing the incorporated association was developed. At a later date a set of Duty Statements for each position was declared and detailed. Our constitution was last updated in 2020.
The club has a dynamic, enthusiastic management committee that meets each month or more frequently as required. Elections are held at each AGM.
The course configurations had become extremely complex until early 2000 when the Hartley's (Hartley TS16) joined the club and had some influence on the course with a change to sailing an Olympic course with a triangle, windward leeward and triangle.
When the TS16 arrived it is rumoured that a "Finn" sailor, king of the heap, took on all comers and beat a Hartley 16 then the second time he was soundly beaten and never seen again.
There have been various "starters" boats. One of the early boats 'Saratoga Princess', a clinker launch was the first real tender and after being disposed of, MIck Carr brought his boat 'WAGS', to the club. WAGS was named after the names of Mick's four children – Warren, Alan, Geoff ( or perhaps Graham) and Sharon. Mick was a member who worked tirelessly for the club and will be fondly remembered by many members. Our dear member Mick Carr passed away on August 14th, 2014.
A lot of kids grew up sailing sabots flying 11's and 12's and as they started going to Universities to attain a higher education and many sailors were lost to commuting and work out of the district.
The club has sabots and other classes, available for sailing on a "one-off", weekly or season basis by arrangement.
The Club Today
The club over time has gravitated to a strong showing of the one design Hartley TS16 boats, and a mixed class fleet with a strong Laser class presence. In 2018 we welcomed Deepwater Dragon Boat Club to the fold, and in 2019 our mixed fleet was joined by a group of enthusiastic Windsurfers and in 2020 by a small fleet of International A-class Catamarans. We now have two rescue boats in addition to our start boat, which are needed to support larger regattas.
The club retains is tradition of open access and we keep our membership fees low by supplementing our income with hall hires and by hosting regattas. There is always someone on hand to help with maintenance. All sailors and visitors are welcome to join in and there are usually one or two club boats available to try.
Sailing operates on most Sundays in the sailing season which commences the 2nd weekend in October (largely subject to weather) and finishes the weekend after Easter. The club takes a short break over Christmas and resumes racing and sailing activities on the third weekend of January.
Whether racing around marks in glorious weather or pottering up and down on a sunny day, Saratoga Sailing Club can provide an opportunity to sail and enjoy fine camaraderie with like-minded people of all ages. Away sailing events are also a feature for the clubs Hartley TS 16 trailer boats.
After the sailing finishes the club operates after race functions on the deck overlooking Brisbane Water which has views across to Gosford and beyond. The deck view is a fabulous spot to bring relatives and friends. Everyone is always made welcome. Feel free to drop by and take a look if you are in Saratoga on a Sunday.