1983 - 1984
To celebrate the National Year of Sport in 1983 the UKBSA organised events for youths and for the over 50s at Northney in June of that year. On Sunday 5th June a group of 12 Omegas, as they were called, raced in a Force 4 wind with substantial waves. Andrew Watson was one of that number, and together with three others in the race became founder members of a club whose offspring was to be Seavets.
The charity Foundation for Age Research, later to become Research into Ageing, was looking round for sponsorship by older people who were taking part in sport. Windsurfing was regarded as a relatively safe sport and from a medical point of view was considered good exercise for the not-so-young. The foundation believed that elderly windsurfers would attract press attention which could be a useful peg on which to hang publicity for their own general fundraising efforts. They would also provide an example of a healthy active lifestyle in later years. By December 1983 we were discussing commercial sponsorship of events which might raise funds for the Foundation for Age Research.
John Allfrey, then Director of the Foundation, was the moving spirit in creating interest in windsurfing for the elderly, and in cooperation with Super Surf, a commercial organisation, the name of The Ancient Boardsailors Club was adopted. The suggested age limit of over 50 produced so few Veterans that a class of Seniors, over 35, was introduced. A programme of events was organised by SuperSurf at Calshot, Angmering, Bury (Manchester), Felixstowe, and London Docks. From each entry fee of £5 a contribution of £2 was made to the Foundation. The mailing list was built up by Super Surf.
At Felixstowe in July 1984 an employee of the Foundation suggested the name Seavets, and so the Senior and Veteran Windsurfers Association was born. Seavets own first event was held at Northney in August 1984. The Boat Show the following year provided a platform for publicity and members were present at a Super Surf sponsored dinner on the Cutty Sark at which Seavets successes in 1984 were recognised and trophies awarded.
In July 1985 the first draft Constitution for Seavets was drawn up and the first membership secretary, John Sharland, was joined by a Treasurer, John McKay. On 17th August, after the 2nd Masters events at Northney, the first Committee was formed from a total of 14 members with Andrew Watson as Chairman.
Super Surf arranged six events in 1985 at Romford and Felixstowe in June, Bristol and Lowestoft in July and Leigh on Sea and Hayling Island in August. The Foundation for Age Research arranged races at the Victoria Docks on 14 July and so no one went to Bristol. By July Super Surf were feeling disenchanted with Seavets. Attendance had been poor except at Hayling Island and their commercial outlets could not see the relevance of the Foundations work to the sales of Fanatic products. In October the link with Super Surf was terminated.
In November 1985, nothing daunted by lack of numbers, Seavets had a horse-drawn dray in the Lord Mayor’s Show carrying four members. The dray broke down so they walked, dressed in wetsuits, through London carrying the Foundation for Age Research / Seavets banner.
1986 By January 1986 membership had increased to 25. Seavets took part in the Windsurf Exhibition in March 1986 and by the end of the month membership had grown to 48.
The 1986 Programme comprised: participation in the Midlands S C Regatta at Edgebaston, participation of Veterans in UKBSA Nationals at Stokes Bay, Seavets open weekend at Derwentwater, Lake District, Millwall Docks, Family Fun Day hosted by the Albatross Club, Seavets Masters event at Northney Marina hosted by Hayling Windsurfing, Sussex YC Five Bridges race, Round Hayling Island Marathon, Bideford Open Event. Seavets in Veterans section Hollowell Open Event – Seavets took part.
Total sum raised for Foundation for Ageing Research £200
1986 - 1989 From notes by Andrew Watson written in 1989
Administration is entirely voluntary. Secretarial and organisational duties are shared between the Chairman and the Membership Secretary. The Treasurer issues floats and prepares accounts for audit. A Committee member holds stocks of Hats and T-shirts for sale by post. Members willing to help are co-opted at short notice by the Committee. A copier which can reduce or enlarge has been purchased.
Sponsorship. Most events are hosted by commercial organisations or sailing clubs. Some make a charge and some do not. Some provide prizes. Most run races for Seavets but on occasions we have to provide our own race team (OOD, Assistant OOD and timekeeper). We have no overall sponsor but in 1988 we were given a substantial number of prizes by Windsurfing UK. A challenge cup was put up for competition for those attending a minimum number of races at the lakes run by Windsurfing UK’s retail outlets.
Dee Caldwell’s windsurfing shop put up a Veterans Cup for annual competition. The director of ACTIV runs four events for Seavets at his lakes and donates generous prizes and raffle prizes. Peter Williams, godfather of Seavets from its inception, hosts the annual Masters event at Northney Marina and donates generous prizes including something to raffle.
Fund Raising. About half the proceeds of each event go to Research Into Ageing with the exception of special events such as the Concert and the proceeds of raffles, which all go to RIA after expenses.
Aspirations (and Limitations). From the viewpoint of the Secretary (Dennis Heywood, aged 65) and the Chairman, Andrew Watson, the maximum number of members we can handle is likely to be 400. Beyond that the task of stuffing envelopes will become a burden. We expect to start the New Year on 1 April 1989 with about 150 members and will probably finish with about 320.
During 1989 we hope to arrange the first visits for Seavets to see examples of the medical research funded by Research Into Ageing. We have promised a minimum of £700 but believe we can substantially improve on this amount with support from members – and our sponsors. We shall be asking members to donate items for raffles which will be held at almost every event.
We can identify about 30 members who are regular supporters and who can be relied on to attend meetings in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. We do not want more than 70 at any event (a) because of the difficulty of calculating race results and (b) because certain lakes are not big enough for such numbers.
With 300 members the average turnout will be about 40 in the Home Counties. The 1989 programme consists of 16 racing events plus the Round Hayling Marathon.
Andrew Watson 1919-2013