THE EARLY DAYS OF JHYCSaturday 18th December 2010
Jolly Harbour Yacht Club (JHYC) was born in May 1993 by founding members Hans Lammers, Dominic Henry and Geoffrey Pidduck along with some early sailors at Jolly Harbour including Gillian Noel Bigler, Bernie Wong, Tommy Paterson, Colin Jones and others. Robbie Ferron and Budget Marine were big supporters of JHYC and its regattas and as one of its early members he has remained a constant supporter.
After Geoffrey Pidduck leased the Jolly Harbour marina, boatyard and fuel dock from Dr. Erhart in 1992, he and the other JHYC founding members helped to bring Jolly Harbour to life. Geoffrey also managed the Commercial Centre at the time and with a 15% holdback of all rents they did all the local promotion and advertising for Jolly Harbour which led in 1993 to bringing Antigua Sailing Week there for the first time and also sponsoring the first ASW Press Boat. The Dog Watch Tavern was JHYC’s club house for many years and still has some useful history on the shelves and ceiling showing early winners and participating yachts.
From the beginning JHYC reached out to the community by offering Honorary Memberships to the Prime Minister, the government representative of St. Mary’s, the Minister of Tourism, the Commodore of AYC, the Chairman of National Parks, Jan Santos and Brian Gonzales, then-Chairman of Antigua Sailing Week. In order to fund the Club, marina clients were encouraged to purchase Life Memberships which came with t-shirts and burgees so the JHYC flag would be flown throughout Caribbean waters. Life Members were kept in touch as much as possible but without much in the way of email and no social networking at the time, many were never heard from again. Unfortunately, with the gradual change of the guard membership records were eventually lost.
Because the founding members of JHYC owned the marina it was easy for them to promote the Club at international boat shows and to the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the Caribbean 1500 and other major events. Free dockage was provided in Jolly Harbour to visiting AYC yachts as well as to others from Guadeloupe, St. Maarten, St. Barths and neighboring islands. The D Dock had an area originally assigned to members for free and later dockage was subsidized.
Geoffrey Pidduck was the first Commodore and retained that role for about four years before turning it over to Hans Lammers. Unfortunately, when they gave up the Marina to CDAL in 1997, they started to lose some interest in promoting JHYC and as support from the marina dwindled, interest in the yacht club began to lose steam. Not long afterwards, life was put back into the Club by new Commodore, artist Nick Maley, who served for several years before relocating to St. Maarten.
The Carib Cup Regatta was hosted by Jolly Harbour Yacht Club and Jolly Harbour Marina for the first time in 1995 with subsequent regattas in 1996 and 1997. These regattas were the best events JHYC ever hosted with three-boat teams from USVI, BVI, St. Maarten, JHYC, Antigua Yacht Club, Guadeloupe and occasionally from St. Lucia. At the first event were dignitaries and some of the best sailors from around the Caribbean including Pat Bailey and Henry Mennin who are top International Judges and Umpires. Chris Martin was Race Officer at the regattas which featured a large tent, flagpole, marching police band, volleyball, cycling events, tennis and swimming at BBR Sports Center. When the BVI eventually won the Carib Cup from Antigua it was suggested that the winning island should host future regattas. Unfortunately, Antigua let it go and after moving to BVI, Antigua never regained the event.
The first Valentine’s Regatta was held around the same time the Carib Cup Regatta came to life and when the Carib Cup was lost to the Virgin Islands, the Annual Regatta was created with the intention of filling a void in the CSA calendar and increasing Antigua’s sporting calendar.
This is the early history of JHYC and it’s great to note that most of the original Club members are still actively involved in the Club today. Oh, and this early history wouldn’t be complete without mention of Andrew “Bottle Glasses” who was the Club Race Officer/Starter for years before being deported back to Germany!!
With thanks to Geoffrey Pidduck for providing JHYC’s history.
Photos courtesy of Bob Lucas, Skyscan Photos Inc., NY.
Andrew "Bottle Glasses" - early Race Officer/Starter
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