May 06

John Parke on the ebb and flow of 45 years at Southbank Sailing Club

To mark John Parke’s recent birthday we asked him to write about his long membership of our club. Who can believe at one point we nearly merged with Ranelagh! 


The club was originally part of the London County Council sports club and I was allowed to join it about 45 years ago because Wendy was teaching for the ILEA.

We sailed only Enterprises and GP14s then. Some Lasers trickled in but the Old Guard insisted that they carried anchors and they left in a huff. When I first joined we usually got about 8 boats on the water and 12 for the Cope but Thatcher abolished the London Council and our membership fell to the point when we only got 2-4 boats out and we seriously discussed amalgamation with Ranelagh.

We were rescued by the 5th Cavalry in the shape of Ian Malcolm, Chris Philips, Jeremy Khan, Allan and Sara. The rotten boats were thrown out and Chris led a massive yard tidy up, Ian and Jeremy repaired club boats, Allan a property man, took on the renegotiation of our lease and Sara has inspired our social life. The club steadily came back to life.

I’ve had 45 years’ pleasure from Southbank Sailing Club, in spite of regular capsizes and being too cold and tired to think, but my name is on the honours board 34 times and four of my crew have bought boats. I’ve been on the GC since we used to meet in County Hall in the late 80’s some 29 years ago and I’ve been Sailing Sec., Commodore, and Gen. Sec.

Above all I’ve made many friends and helped many people to enjoy the water.

John Parke