The Club are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Commodore, Sheila Smith.
Sheila served as Club Commodore from 2012-2014 and was a very keen Laser sailor. When she became unable to sail herself, she very generously donated her Laser to the Club in 2020, to allow promising and dedicated young racers a pathway into our sport.
She also donated a considerable amount of sailing gear in 2021, which greatly helped a number of Club members.
Our thoughts are with Sheila's family and friends.
Well done to all our prize winners this season!
Derek Braid kindly took some pictures of the occasion, which can be viewed here.
The full list of winners can be found here.
The Coates-Walker Quaich is awarded for submission of the best cruising log during a sailing season. A few of our more intrepid sailors have submitted the following logs for the Committee to review, and already there have been many positive reviews. You can read the logs by clicking the links below.
Alastair Skinner & Alastair MacIntyre
James Gibbons & Kenneth Laing
This #ParentsinSportWeek, we’re helping parents to keep their child safe in sport.
Understand how you can keep your child safe by taking this FREE e-learning course for parents from the NSPCC, it only takes 10 minutes.
RYA ELearning Course
Commodore John Watt Wightman CVO, CBE, RD* (RNR)
John Watt Wightman was born in Leith, his parents having moved there from North Berwick. His Grandfather (also John Wightman) was the local Ironmonger, session clerk of Blackadder Church and a founder member on the committee of North Berwick Yacht Club in 1901. Grandfather John competed in the fortnightly races in his yacht "Paragon". Robert Wightman, John Watt Wightman's father, was an early member of East Lothian Yacht Club in the 1930s initially with a lugsail boat called "Lothian Lass", and then having "Paragon II" built by Millers of St Monans in 1935. Just how he got building a new boat past his wife when he also had 2 year old John in the house (and golfed regularly) is slightly lost in the mists of time. Although growing up in Edinburgh, young John spent much time at North Berwick in the flat above the ironmongers shop, doing all the harbour things that those growing up in North Berwick do, including sailing model yachts built by his grandfather, playing on the beach and going out with local fishermen on their boats.
When the war came, the Wightman boats did not have wartime registration, so were stored ashore for the duration of hostilities. Paragon II was kept in one of the bays of Fowler's Garage on the High Street. Although the East Lothian coast was a closed area, young John was still able to come down to stay above the shop by working as a boy on one of the farms at Rhodes holdings. He was in the town when bombs were dropped on the Law, and also when a mine detonated on the East Beach breaking windows along the front. He continued to be friends with patient local fishermen and learned the names of all the rocks, and "meads" (transits) for passages through rocks. Knowledge, which is now lost to most.
In 1945 Paragon was launched again, and young John was given one of the ex hire rowing boats, with wartime registration "A6" to use. He credited use of that rowing boat as giving him the understanding of how to manoeuvre twin screw ships in later life. He had a great interest in flora and fauna of the coast, in particular the sea birds. He continued to sail with generations of the Auld family as well as his own family. He continued to sail Paragon II, increasingly taking responsibility for maintenance from his father during the 1950s.
He joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Tay Division in 1951 (while at University) and undertook his National Service in the Med with the RN, seeing action both in Cyprus (which he discussed with Andreas with some circumspection) and landing tanks at Suez. After National Service he joined Forth Division RNVR, bringing mine sweepers and MFVs down to North Berwick from time to time. Although he did nor race sailing boats much at North Berwick, he did tell a story of racing round the Bass Rock in naval whalers (27 foot long open boats with a dipping lug rig, and five oars). The start and finish line was at Rosyth Docks. He did race in Paragon II occasionally, mostly in the Elie Stern Chase, with some success, although given how poorly Paragon points compared to Bermudian yachts, in years with too much south in the wind Paragon II would come last by quite a long way.
He did also take advantage of sail training in ELYC, when he was required to have a dinghy sailing qualification to take part in a 1980s Royal Naval Reserve sailing regatta. Thank you to Morty Turner, ELYCs instructor at the time, for getting him through his RYA "Elementary" at a time when he was already qualified to command ships. His family did enjoy watching the capsize drill in a Mirror dinghy. It will be hard to imagine for current members under the age of 50, but no wet suits were used at that time. The capsize was conducted in cotton shorts, a woollen jumper and a Helly Hansen buoyancy aid.
John continued to sail Paragon II into his 80s, still staying in the flat above the Ironmongers shop. Although not a racer, he did make full use of his boat, and sailed her into most of the harbours in the Forth. Sail of course, because she does not have an engine. The furthest south he took the boat was Alnmouth in Northumberland (in one hop from North Berwick). The furthest North he sailed Paragon II was Arbroath. On one memorable occasion he sailed in one day from North Berwick, to Inchcolm, over to Aberdour for lunch, and then back to North Berwick...... taking advantage of the tides and a 180 degree wind shift at lunchtime. He enjoyed many adventures in the boat, and it is sad that we can no longer hear them from him, nor share in his knowledge of the history of the harbour and the natural history of the coast.
In his civilian life "JW" was an Edinburgh lawyer with law firm Morton Fraser. His legal practice was wide and diverse including a large rural practice in the North of Scotland, and some commercial clients including the paint company that supplied the paint with which Paragon (and the Forth Bridge) were painted. He was awarded the CBE in the 1980s in recognition of his military career. He was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 1990s in recognition of his services as solicitor in Scotland to Her Majesty the Queen.
The winners of the 100 Club draw for July 2021 were made on Saturday September 4th in the Clubhouse.
The winners of the 100 Club draw for July 2021 were made on Saturday August 7th in the Clubhouse.
East Lothian Yacht Club | 36-40 Victoria Road | The Harbour | North Berwick | East Lothian | EH39 4JL