MBSC History  - Early Times to 1999

1998 - 40 Years Old!

In March 1998 the club celebrated its fortieth birthday with a party. 100 people, mainly past members, came to re-live those memories. Amongst those present were founder or early members Harold Bennett, Peter Oxborough, Derek Blount, Ted Miller, Keith Martin, Geoff Smale, Phil Menzies, John Stallard and even the original owner of the house, which became the clubhouse, Ray Skyrme. I know this was a great occasion for many of those ex-members who had put in so much effort into the club’s early days. In May the club was honoured by the Council with a Civic Award for Voluntary Service to the Community. 


1997 - The Winter Champs

Pictured - the 2013 STACK Winter Champs

The Murrays Bay Winter Championship first ran in August 1997. The school year at this time was divided into 3 terms, so the break between 2nd and third term was earlier in the year. Hence the regatta was named the Winter Champs.An entry of 256 boats across an incredible 17 classes reflecting the changing face of yachting:

Class Entries Class Entries
12' Skiff 3 Laser Radial 7
470 10 Mistral Imco 20
49er 7 OK Dinghy 6
Europe 4 Optimist Open 36
Farr 3.7 4 P Class 60
Finn 4 Starling 53
Javelin 4 Sunburst 2
Laser 29 Tornado 3
>Laser II 4    

The regatta still runs annually, with the biggest fleet recorded being 295 in 2007. A key component of the regatta is the Winter Champs Coaching days, where sailors from around the country get to take advantage of a top coaching environment for the first two days of the school holidays, followed by the regatta. Of course now it's a 4 term year which means the regatta has moved to later in the year. Still called the Winter Champs, but the weather a bit warmer than it used to be! It remains a popular regatta to shake out those winter cobwebs.

1996 - 168 Sailors - Biggest Tauranga Cup Ever!


The recently built Waterwise shed became 'Johnnys Bar'.

The P Class was at the peak of its powers in 1996, when MBSC conducted the Tanner and Tauranga Cups in January, the organising team led by Murray Thom. Knowing it was going to be huge, the plan was to base the event on the reserve at Rothesay Bay. Long story short, the Resource Management Act put paid to that as sailing was not an 'existing use' at Rothesay Bay and would take months to approve. The biggest fleet ever - 168 yachts - squeezed into Murrays Bay and sailed the contest in near perfect conditions. See the length of the start line in the photo above! The Tanner Cup was won by 12 year old Mike Bassett of Torbay BC, with Murrays Bays' Kevin Borrows winning the Tauranga Cup with a 1,5,1,17,9,1 record. Scott Pierce and Carl Peters, also of MBSC, finished 3rd and 4th respectively. See the story from the March 1996 Sailing New Zealand Magazine. Page 1 | Page 2 | List of vital stat's of top 15 placegetters.


1994 - Rescue boats become Y1, Y2, ...

Early in 1994 a sponsorship was arranged with Yamaha. In return for a very good deal on outboard motors the club agreed to change the name of its boats from R1, R2 etc standing for Rescue 1, to Yamaha 1, Yamaha 2 and so on, thus ending a long tradition stretching back almost to the formation of the club.

1991 - The 24 Hour becomes the OKI

The 24 hour race was starting to run into a few problems. It was still far and away the clubs major fundraiser and even this was not considered to be enough. Expenses were also escalating and it was felt an urgent review of the financial side of the event was needed.

David Charlesworth brought his family business Comworth Systems on board with their OKI brand and it was given the name The OKI 24 hour race. With commodore to be, Murray Thoms in charge, the event had a new vigour and in the season 1990 –91 it raised over $45000. From this had to be taken the expenses but nevertheless the cash input was substantial. The 1991 race was won by Hamish Pepper and Dean Barker. The club was in the happy position to be able to give significant grants to sailors who were travelling overseas and this was channeled through a special fund known as the International Travel Fund which was set up under the guidance of Glenys MacKinlay the chairperson of the Ladies committee.

1991 - MBBC becomes MBSC

New Commodore Rod Slater started in mid year, and in September 1991 an extraordinary general meeting was called to adopt a new constitution the first update since the original in 1957. No sooner was this done than the club had a special planning day to chart the future direction of the club. This in turn resulted in some further changes to the constitution in particular the change of name to Murrays Bay Sailing Club. It also adopted a new logo and club colours. The stylised logo started out on a blue background, but was often mistaken for the Blue Peter so was changed to white.
 It was felt this removed the club from the era of its beginning when it concentrated as much on fishing and motorboating as it did on sailing. The club also adopted its mission statement that -: “Murrays Bay Sailing Club aims to provide young sailors with the best possible environment and opportunity to sail fast and achieve excellence in the sport of centreboard sailing”.
Rod was Commodore through to August 1993, and in 1994 his son Dan became the IYRU Youth World Laser Champion in Marathon, Greece.   

1990 - Learn to Sail Boost

With the Optimist starting to make inroads in to the New Zealand junior sailing psyche, the club LTS program got a huge boost in 1990, with the donation of 4 Optimists by Don Senior Boats Ltd.

1988 - Clubhouse Tower added

Throughout its life the clubhouse underwent several modifications. Late in 1987 Council approval was given for an internal refit, and to extend the deck and build in the Tower at the southern end.   In about 1980, under the deck had also been built in providing more boat storage and 3 x roller door access - 2 on the front, 1 on the side. In 1992 the southern boat storage area was added on as a partnership with Water Wise at a cost of $51,000.

1987 - 24 Hour Race converts to Lasers

Due to the now poor state of the Phoenix class (ex Rothmans Father & Son), the December 1987 24 hour race was changed to Lasers. This was a move which was to inject a new lease of life into the contest as many of the Nation’s top sailors now sailed lasers. It was also decided to have special sails made and a tender of $11352 for 40 sails was awarded to Lidgard Sails. These sails were to be signwritten in the logo of the sponsor.

1987 - Married Life Members

Len Davies in P69 Mintie, winning the Tauranga Cup in Dunedin, 1978. Painting by K.Conroy


P69, Mintie, still light blue, here being sailed by Alice Haslett in the 2015 Stack Winter Champs

Late in 1987 two hard working members Bev and Phil Davies were made life members. This couple who are the only married members to be made life members in their own right had been involved in just about every aspect of Murrays Bay sailing club over the last 20 years They had no fewer than four sons, Len, Mike, Phil and Ramon each of whom was a brilliant sailor, pass through the club. Their P class was Mintie P69 which was always painted light blue and was passed from son to son with continuing excellent results. In January of that year their youngest son Ramon winning both the Tanner and Tauranga Cups. In fact the minutes show that Murrays Bay Sailors occupied the top 10 places in the Tauranga Cup.

On our High Achievers page you'll see Ramon, now more commonly known as Ray Davies, pictured bringing the Americas Cup home from Bermuda, 2017.

1986 - Prizegiving Winners Tradition Begins

The 1985/86 season was the first year that an official club photo was to be taken at the prizegiving and that years picture shows, amongst others, a very young Nik Burfoot and Dean Barker already making their mark. It also shows Geoff Senior who was the first sailor, to put Murrays Bay on the Tauranga Cup. They were part of the team that helped Murrays Bay win both the Tanner and Tauranga cups, the Wihau Shield and every available P class trophy in Auckland as well as having 5 in the top 10 of the Starling Nationals that year.

1986 - Time for some Honours Boards

At the start of 1986 Geoff Senior gained second in the Tanner Cup and 7 of the top 10 boats in the Tauranga Cup were from Murrays Bay. Conscious of the successes the club was having it decided to have some honours boards made. These were made by Bob Senior and were to record past Commodores, Life members, winners of the 24hr race and those who had achieved high awards in Yachting. It was not until 1998 that in fact the latter was sign written due to the huge amount of research needed to make sure no-one was left out. The criteria were set that those mentioned should either be current members of the club or sailing under the club’s name in a class sailed at the club and become either World Champions, as recognised by the International body (ISAF) or Olympic medal winners. By the year 2000 this amounted to 13 names representing 17 events in 7 different classes.

1984 - Arise the Phoenix

In 1984 pressure came on cigarette advertising and Rothmans were unable to continue their support of yachting. This also meant the Rothmans Father and Son class changed its name to the Phoenix but it also meant a loss of income to the club. This was not a problem at this stage because the club was financially comfortable, indeed the club was stretched to overflowing.

1983 - Tanner & Tauranga Cup time again

All the female entrants at the 1983 Tauranga Cup at Murrays Bay.

The Tanner and Tauranga Cups involved a fleet of 108 P class and the list of helpers included Alan Sayers, a long time supporter of junior yachting, Steve Moses with the Torbay Boating club patrol boat, and even the RNZYS who loaned their Scott Colville committee boat. The Tanner Cup was won by Craig Monk representing Auckland East with Murrays Bay’s Scott Adam second. The Tauranga Cup was won by Steve Cotton from RNZYS which must have produced some excitement on board Scott Colville, with Scott Adam and Nik Burfoot of Murrays Bay 3rd and 4th, which was not a bad result with only two entrants per club allowed. First girl was Nicole Stevens of Herald Island, (later Nicole Harden of Torbay BC), second place Barbara Kendall and Harold Bennett’s daughter Carla third. Fourth was Jenny Egnot of Christchurch, who returned to MBSC in 2014 for her two sons to learn to sail.

See all the Tanner and Tauranga results on our P Class Nationals page.

1982 - Rothmans 24 Hour Race still going strong

December 1982 and the 24 Hour Race is still as popular as ever, as outlined here in Sea Spray Magazine. It was won for the third year in a row by Paul Meo, this time with Bruce Watt.

1982 - Brin Wilson is Launched

Over the winter the old Rescue 1 which was built in 1965 was replaced by a brand new purpose built launch which was donated by Wilson Boats in memory of Brin Wilson. Brin and his sons Bob and Richard were behind one of New Zealands first major international offshore successes when they built Pathfinder and won the 1971 Sydney-Hobart race, helping the NZ team to win the Southern Cross Cup with Runaway and Wai Aniwa. Sadly Brin died in October 1974 aged just 50.

But Brin’s name lives on, not only on the patrol boat, but also in the boat’s radio call sign, heard just about every weekend in the summer. Launched by Wensley Willcox, wife of Commodore Peter Willcox, to an audience of 500 members she was dressed overall with flags and it made for a proud occasion.

Read the Brin Wilson boat building story here.

1977 - Harold Bennett, founding Committee Member, Sailor & Coach

Harold Bennett (left) founding member of MBSC and the first professional yachting coach in New Zealand. Taken about 1977, with the original clubhouse in the background - before it was converted from its house origins.

1977 - The First Birdman

Birdman competitions were all the rage and the Murrays Bay Wharf was a perfect location. MBBC were supporting on the water for the huge crowd that turned out on 29th January 1977. The event was reignited with great success in 2017 and again in 2018.

Mid 70's - The Ladies Committee

The Ladies Committee from the min 1970's outside the new Clubhouse. Wendy Brentnall, Dot Corbett, Lyn East, Robyn Bennett and Convener Adrian Cox.

1971 - The Starling Debuts

The Starling class yac​​​​​​​ht was​​​​​​​ conceived and commissioned by John Peetof Glendowie in the late 1960s.  At the time there were no single-handed boats available to teenagers for bridging the gap between the P class and the adult Finn, OK, Cherokee and Zephyr classes.  A stepping stone class was required.
Des Townson, the designer of the successful Zephyr, Mistral and Dart yachts of the period was approached to design the boat and he completed this in June 1969.  To confirm the simplicity of the construction concept, teenager David Peet built the prototype as his first boat-building project.  The Starling was launched at Westhaven, Auckland on Anzac weekend 1970. Today, the John Peet Trophy is awarded to the National Champion.
Starling first appeared at Murrays Bay in late 1971 and Gordon Gilberd became the first Starling Class rep. 47 years later, in 2018, the Starling still attracts the crowds and is generally the second biggest fleet after the Optimists. The 2018 Winter Champs had a fleet of 32.

1971 - Club House Purchase

With all the previous plans not making the grade, due to local opposition,  and the club still operating out of the basement of the old Outram Hall, suddenly a new opportunity arose. Early in 1970 the Club was offered Mr Skyreme's 3 bedroom house on the beach front (513 Beach Rd). The finances weren't available so it was sold to a Mr McGlashan for $19,000. But by mid 1971 it was up for sale again for $30,000. Keith Martin was Treasurer, and he negotiated to buy for $28,000. The RFS account had reasonable funds, but with several other funding sources there was still a small shortfall. Geoff Smale stepped in and underwrote the purchase underlining his commitment to the club, and earned himself a Life Membership. So Murrays Bay Boating Club became the proud new owners of a club house on the beach, and to this day one of the few freehold Yacht Clubs in New Zealand. It was still conditional on planning approval to operate as a Yacht Club, so in the mean time it was rented out for $120/ month.   

Amongst those on the House Committee doing this work were Harold Bennett, Gordon Gilberd, and Stu Brentnall. Later this decade, Stu was to become a leading light in the One Ton Cup with a series of revolutionary Bruce Farr designs - first Jiminy Cricket, winning it in 1977 with the centreboarder The Red Lion in Auckland, and then taking Export Lion to Germany the following year. 

Another interesting 21st Century postscript to this story...Mr McGlashans nephew started sailing Starlings at MBBC in the 1980's. While still a member, he won 3 Hobie 16 National Championships in 1986,87 and 88. This was Dave 'Daisy' McGlashan. Following on, Daisy's eldest son Blake, sailing for MBSC,  won the Tanner and Tauranga Cup double in Plimmerton, sailing P171 Battle Cry, and then the 2018 420 Worlds in Newport with Seb Menzies. 
There are many many other instances where the MBSC story crosses family generations. 


1970 - The Rothmans NZ Yachting Centre

Reproduced from the 8 O'Clock Newspaper, October 24th 1970

All the commercial activity from the RFS brought in the extra funds the club needed for a clubhouse. In 1968, a scheme was suggested to create 1 acre of reclamation to the North of the wharf with a groyne built out to protect it from severe Easterlies. The club house would be built out on stilts with a concrete apron to be added later. There was to be a 41 x 30 lounge which opened out onto a sundeck facing the sea. A committee room, games room, kitchen showers toilets and even a bunk room were included. 

Following a public meeting at which some objectors put up some acceptable suggestions the clubhouse scheme was changed and in October 1970 the pictured scheme was published.  The club house was built into a cutting halfway up the Taharata headland with the reclamation at the base of the cliff. Originally access was to have been via Portal Place but after residents objections it was made as a continuation of Torquay. Large chunks of the cliff were to be excavated to create a road way and the waste rock would help form the reclamation. This latter scheme was more acceptable as it meant the clubhouse would be lower and not obstruct other residents’ view. Also access by vehicle to the launching area would be much less steep and so would the walk to the clubhouse.This was to become the “Rothmans New Zealand Yachting Centre”. The cost was put at $80,000 of which the club had $14,000. 


1968 - First Murrays Bay Olympian - Geoff Smale

In October of 1968, the clubs first Olympian Geoff Smale with Ralph Roberts took part in the Flying Dutchman class in the Mexico Olympics. They finished 8th out of 30.

In the NZ Olympic Trials it was Smale and Roberts who got the nod from the Selectors after a convincing win in the trials conducted at Pakatoa Island, which was then a holiday resort.

The eighth in the Olympics at Mexico did not reflect their true ability, as many expected the duo to take a medal at least. However it was the year of Rodney Pattison and crew Iain Macdonald-Smith (GBR) who came onto the FD scene in the super-boat Superdocious and were a level above the rest of the fleet.

In 1968, Smale was awarded the Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy as New Zealand Sailor of the Year for his win in the Olympic Trials and for his development of the Rothmans Father and Son class.

1967 - Rothmans Father & Son and the 24 Hour Race

By Christmas 1966, 30 kitsets had been sold. Rothmans not only backed the design and prototype but assisted financially to help clubs get their first boat. By July of 1967 there were 45 boats and Bruce Malcolm was inspired together with Harold Bennett to introduce the 24 hour race in the class.
 This was a race which lasted for 24 hours, sailed on Lake Pupuke in sponsored boats. A pair of sailors, or threesome for the girls teams, shared the sailing. In rough weather they would sail two up but preferred to sail in shifts in order to get some rest, warm up and get some food. Elaborate lengths were taken to look after the sailors with food supplied by the ladies committee and caravans and tents a short way off to the side to sleep in. A board showing how many laps each boat had done kept the large number of spectators informed as they came and went during the course of the event. During the night boats were rigged with small electrical lights, not so much to illuminate the position of the boat but so that organisers could identify boats cheating by rocking when there was little or no wind.  
The 24 Hour race continues today as the OKI 24 Hour, raced in Lasers and is a major fundraiser for the club.

1967 - Population Booming

Photographed 13th March 1967. The East Coast Bays is well on its way as it converts from some far flung holiday homes to the population centre it is today. Things to note :
- the wharf that is 3 versions prior to the 2018 one.
- the road access to the wharf - this was known as 'Torquay'. Lots of parking available here!
- the house that was to become the first Clubhouse
- the original Outram Hall, with the club still operating out of its shed and basement
- the Pohutukawa in the middle of the 2018 round-about is clear to see
- Murrays Bay Intermediate and Primary Schools are both new looking, and about to be surrounded by new subdivision

1966 - Rothmans Father & Son Launched

Murrays Bay Boating Club was looking for a new class of boat - one that was light and manageable, easily built at home, and targeted at Father and Son sailing. The result was the Rothmans Father and Son, with the hull designed by Brin Wilson, and the rig by Olympian to be, Geoff Smale.

Smale had been a long time stalwart of the Murrays Bay Boating Club, and was a key member of the team who developed the club from a beach boating and fishing club into one of the major forces of New Zealand sailing. One of his projects was the development of the Father and Son class, which was designed for the purpose which its name suggests, capable of being sailed by a father and son and also used with an outboard for fishing or being rowed. Smale developed a radical rig for the craft which featured a pre-bent mast and fully battened sail, which also rotated and was held in the boat by just three stays. It looked unorthodox but worked superbly.

The RFS as the class became known was also sold as a kitset, through Farmers chain of retail stores - with a cleverly engineered building system that used the delivery crate as a building base.

The first boat was launched Sunday 17th July 1966.

1965 - Rescue 1

At the start of the 1964/65 season, the committee decided to sell Miss Nance and build a new rescue boat. This was to be a John Spencer 18 foot Sabre design powered with a 40Hp. The boat was built under Dave Cox's house, and launched in 1965, known as Rescue 1. The name reflected the main job of the boat - rescue, as the races were still generally started form the wharf, as in the above mid 60's photo. This boat operated all the way through to the launch of Brin Wilson in 1982. 

1964 - Dave Cox

Murrays Bay's longest serving Commodore started his twelve year reign in 1964. He took over from Derek Blount, and handed on to Jack Shorthouse in 1975.  Dave even came back for more in 1978/79 when Commodore Colin McKnight moved to the South Island, and Dave stood in for the remainder of the term.

1961 - A New Patrol Boat, Lady Nance

By September of 1961 enough money had been raised to purchase the Miss Nance, a kauri, carvel built 16 footer with 5 ft 6 inch beam and powered by a fully marinised Ford 10 motor. She needed painting and this was to proceed each weekend until the official launching day which was set as 11.45 on Sunday October 22nd. The boat was to be painted in the club colours but there was some disagreement as to what this entailed.

Eventually she had a white hull with a lemon cabin with a black band and pastel blue inside.

1960 - Buoy Maintenance

The boys maintaining the buoys at the back of Smiths Beach Store, 1960.
L-R,  Graham Smith, Harold Bennett,  Derek Blount, Bryan 'Sprat' Smith.

1959 - Mixed Fleets, Wharf Starts

We haven't dated this photo yet, but clearly taken off the Murrays Bay wharf at race start.
Q2, Ada, has returned from Sydney where she sailed the first 12 Foot Interdominion in 1957. She was originally built and sailed by John Sharp with John Lasher, but taken to Sydney by Ian McRobie.  She was likely the first Q Class to have a trapeze. 
Sail No 55 is a Kitty Cat - a 12 foot catamaran designed by Jim Young. The first one was built by John Peet of Glendowie, and easily won the second 12 Foot Interdominions held at Glendowie in 1959. Catamarans were banned from that event there after!  Peet's boat was painted red and had a cat cartoon by Minhinnick on the sail. Could this be the original boat, perhaps in training with Ada before the 1959 Interdominions?
A Cherub in behind G79, and a collection of NZ Moths - the 11 foot Scow - are older designs, the first Moth designed in Australia 1948, and the first Cherub by John Spencer, from Torbay Yacht Club, in 1952.

1958 - the birth of Murrays Bay Boating Club (MBBC)

In 1958 Whilst the majority of the action had gone to Browns Bay the local lads, amongst them, Keith Martin, Peter Oxborough and Eddie Miller with their two Zeddies and an Idle Along, continued to sail from Murrays Bay and it was Mrs. Nina Smith, joint owner of the corner store which stood where the carpark is now located, who suggested that the boys form a sailing club. Founding members included Bill and Nina Smith, Harold Bennett, Ron Pook, Dan Mason, Cyril Francis, Ted Miller, Bryan Smith and Graham Smith and they held their first meeting at the Smiths house. A further meeting was held at the home of Ray Skyrme the original owner of what is now the clubhouse and between 30 and 35 people turned up. This was clearly enough to start a proper club, The Murrays Bay Boating Club, and at the third meeting a full committee was elected.

The first committee
Patron W Ward JP
President Dan Mason
Commodore Bill Lambert
Vice Commodores Rangi Temple
Mrs. Megan Biss
Secretary Peter Oxborough
Committee I Hammond
L and N Behrant
J and J Stallard
B Smith
F Biss
H Bennett (Junior committeeman)

Several of these names are still with us on some of the older trophies sailed for each year, with most of the recipients being totally unaware of their origin.

Meanwhile in the bay great progress was being made. Such was the density of the traffic that road safety had become an issue. Car speeds were excessive and “Watch for Children” signs were contemplated and it was even envisaged to build a new road. The old searchlight base which was the original site of the Tai O Tea starting box had been tidied up and the Progressive Association was considering building another shop in front of the Hall to boost income.
The Murrays Bay Boating Club’s (MBBC) activities included yacht racing, motor boating and fishing competitions. Gala days were held to raise funds although the club’s first one was rather poorly attended due to the lateness in the year.
On March 26th 1959 Peter Oxborough wrote to the Council to officially inform them of the existence of the sailing club and requesting permission to operate from the beach. This was agreed to and Council promised to arrange a rigging area for boats. This turned out to be the area now occupied by the public toilets with trailers to be left across the road. With the Council supplying the materials and supervision and the club the labour, a concrete and wooden boat ramp was built on the same site as the current one.


1949 - 1957  The Tai O Tea Boating Club

Murrays Bay 3/1/1951    Whites Aviation

Murrays Bay was a scattered collection of houses gathered round a rather untidy beachfront in 1949, when at a December meeting of the Murrays Bay Progressive Association (MBPA) a Mr. Bennett first suggested a carnival and regatta. The MBPA which was formed in 1941 was the residents and ratepayers organisation and as such was responsible for running many community events.
Whether the regatta took place is not recorded but by March the next year a boating club was being formed and the area behind the beach where the playground now stands had been taken for reserve and was the intended land base for the boating activities. 
The MBPA had a hall known as Outram Hall which they had built through public subscription and this was used for a formation meeting of the new boating club. Unfortunately only 16 people turned up and this was considered insufficient, but an arrangement was made for boat races at Easter. 
From this activity a boat club was eventually formed. The records show it was called the Tai O Tea Boating Club which seems strange as that is the name of the stream at Waiake further up the coast. With the support of the MBPA a small starting shed was erected on the disused base of an old searchlight turret which stood in the corner of the beach. The base is still there today, but is largely covered by grass since the bank was re-landscaped in 1999 It can sometimes be seen just peeping out from the top of the bank right in the NW corner of the beach.

No doubt the lawn was very attractive in this otherwise rather wild environment. The area, which is now the rigging area and playground, was bush, and the rest of the reserve was a rough sandy bank with a few small phoenix palms on it. The large Norfolk pine at the Northern end was about 5m high. Some of the large trees on the waterfront were only planted on June the 2nd 1953 to celebrate the Coronation and gorse had to be removed from the side of the unsealed road to improve visibility. There were vacant sections through from Bournemouth Tce to the beach although the little cottage belonging to the Robinsons, which stood next to the club for so long was already in place.   The sailors found it very tiresome bringing their boats over these rough roads and coupled with the hassles from the MBPA over boat storage decided to remove their activities to Browns Bay. Eventually in August 1966 they combined with Torbay Boating Club which seems very appropriate given their name association.



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