|The Racing History of WMBRC
Motorboat racing has been taking place on Windermere since the end of the 19th Century making it one of the earliest venues for this sport in the country. Records from The Ambleside Water Carnival and Fishing Competition in August 1923 show that races for motorboats and hydroplanes were included with fifteen motor boats registering for the opportunity to win the Waterhead Challenge Bowl and a Challenge Cup. The following year thirty-four motorboats raced at the carnival which was a great family day out for Ambleside residents and in 1924 Harold Pattinson donated the E.H. Pattinson October Cup. Many of these early trophies were subsequently presented to the Windermere Motor Boat Club and are still competed for today, albeit at much faster speeds!
Increasing interest in motorboat racing led to even more informal races being held in between the official regattas with a small group of friends competing against each other on a regular basis. It was only a matter of time before these friends decided to form a club and so it came to pass that on 24th October 1925 The Windermere Motor Boat Club was born.
Initially the club occupied a boathouse situated in Bowness Bay, the original building having been demolished now forms the headquarters of the Lake District Boat Club. The design of the burgee originally had a "W" on the blue, but this was later altered to the red rose that is still currently seen on all the club boats. It was also decided that ladies be admitted to membership of the club and several joined in 1927.
During the war years racing stopped with many of the boats going on active service, but the club remained open and available for requisition, although this did not happen and members could still buy their one drink a day with rations or a club tie using a clothing coupon. The end of the war was celebrated in style with a victory dinner.
In 1949, the first Fitting Out dinner took place, a tradition which still takes place today prior to the first race day. By 1950, membership had increased to more than a hundred and it was obvious that the club building was no longer a viable venue for the many events that were taking place. An extra ordinary AGM took place with the purpose of purchasing a property further down the lake. The result of this was the acquisition of Broad Leys on 18th August 1950.
To emphasise the true purpose of the club the word Racing was inserted into the title, thus The Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club became the club's official name. The club has played a part in many local celebrations of national events such as the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and twelve of the club's racing boats actually escorted the Teal as it took Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh across the lake. More recently, in June 2012 club members sailing in the Queen of the Lake, joined the huge flotilla of water borne vessels on the Thames to celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Motor boat racing has taken place in front of the foreshore of Broad Leys every year until the Lake District National Park Authority imposed the 10 mph speed limit in 2005. Not to be deprived of the excitement of powerboat racing the club took its racing programme to Ramsden Dock, Barrow in Furness where the course provides a different, but equally challenging venue for the sport.
2013 saw the return of racing to Windermere for two main race days; these being Regatta and Commodore's race day. This has been achieved through an exemption clause which is the result of successful ongoing communications with the Lake District National Park Authority and other lake users.
The racing season begins in April and runs until September with ten race days taking place. One of these takes the form of an Inter Club race day which is hosted by WMBRC against the Lancashire Power Boat Club. The second Inter Club race day is hosted outside of our racing season in October by LPRC at Carr Mill, St Helens. Some members, racing under the WMBRC burgee, also enter the National Championships which take place all over the country. Following in the footsteps of Donald Campbell and Sir Henry Segrave, WMBRC has many current members who have achieved National and World speed records for their class of boat which takes place annually in November at Records Week held at Coniston.
WMBRC uses handicap style racing which means that drivers can race many different types of boats in the same race. These range from converted ski boats to Formula 1 catamarans. Budgets for racing these types of boat vary depending on the type of boat you opt for. However, if you prefer to just enjoy the thrill of being driven at speed on water then there is always the option to be a passenger. Medicals apply for both driver and co-driver / passenger. Another way to be a part of this exhilarating sport is on Rescue and Patrol and if you have diving skills that's even better though not essential! Finally, racing cannot take place without the time keepers so if you would like to be part of the racing scene, but don't fancy getting your feet wet this is the job for you.
For an idea of what we get up to and to find out when and where the next race takes place take a look at our racing page www.wmbrc-racing.co.uk and our Facebook page "Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club Sports Venue" then come along and join us one Saturday afternoon.
To apply for Membership of WMBRC please contact the Membership Secretary at the Broad Leys address.
Photographs are courtesy of
Malcolm Casson, Glynn Cunliffe, Ron Grierson and Linsey Fairhurst