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80 Years Since the Official Opening of Kellett Island

South China Morning Post on 28 October 1940




Already in use for several months, the palatial new headquarters of the Royal Hongkong Yacht Club were formally declared open on Saturday evening by His Excellency the Acting Governor, Lieut.-General Sir E.F. Norton in the presence of a gathering numbering well over 500 persons. The occasion was marked by the Opening Cruise of the Club, while the rowing section held a regatta at Deep Water Bay. His Excellency participated in the race for Cruisers earlier in the afternoon, being the guest of the Commodore, Mr. N.V.A. Croucher, in La Cigale I, which won the race. Later in the evening, His Excellency played a game of squash with Mr. J.E. Potter, the architect of the Club.

For the opening ceremony, Mr. N.V.A. Croucher made an introductory speech which briefly covered the Club’s history. He said: “It is my privilege and pleasure to welcome Your Excellency to this new home of the Royal Hongkong Yacht Club. Boat racing goes back to the early days of the Colony, and it was in 1849 that the Victoria Regatta Club held its first meeting. The Victoria RC. was subsequently absorbed by the Hongkong Boating Club, which in 1889 was in turn merged into the Corinthian Sailing Club and in 1894 the Corinthian, by Royal Warrant, became known at the Royal Hongkong Yacht Club. Its headquarters were presently on the site of the present Naval Camber, but at the beginning of the century it moved to Austin Road, a site now occupied by the Kowloon Wharf and Godown Co. More permanent quarters were sought, and in 1908 a new Club House was built on a sandy beach at North Point.

The objects of our Club are primarily for the promotion of boat-racing and rowing, and since its inception we have made steady progress, and to-day we have over 100 yachts and auxiliary craft, which any club may well be proud of, four bowling alleys, two squash courts, and a membership of nearly 500. We hope to increase the amenities still more by the addition of bedrooms, a swimming pool and most important of all, a causeway. These we hope will come in happier times. It is a matter of regret that Sir Henry Pollock is not with us to-day. He is a past Commodore of the Club and its oldest member, having joined over 50 years ago. He and Lady Pollock are now taking a well-earned holiday, and we look forward to their return in renewed health and vigour.

I cannot let this occasion pass without making grateful acknowledgement of the financial assistance which we have received from the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, particularly its chief manager, Sir Vandeleur Grayburn, whose vision and sympathy have made possible so many undertakings that redound to the benefit of the Colony.

Architect’s Cunning Art

To Mr. Potter of Messrs. Leigh and Orange our warm appreciation and thanks are due for this very imposing and well-designed Club House. He has by his cunning art transformed this islet into a picturesque spot, a landmark that for many years to come will compel the attention of all visitors. On the occasion we are reminded of our many absent friends, many of whom are on duty with the fighting services in various parts of the world. We wish them good luck. Many ladies are also unable to be with us at this ceremony, but we look forward to their return, when they will be received in the traditional manner with open arms (Laughter).

To you, Sir, I wish to express our deep gratitude for your kindness in coming and opening our new Club House to-day when there are so many calls on your time. But we feel that you have come to us with more than ordinary interest, for in the early 1860s your father, Captain Norton, was a keen and active sailing member of the Club and was one of those who did much to further the interest of boat-racing in the Colony. The old Club House at North Point from which we have recently transferred was opened in 1908 by that distinguished solider and Empire-builder Sir Frederick, later Lord Lugard, then Governor of Hongkong.

Judging by the progress which the Club has made since that conspicuous occasion, it augurs well for our future that our present Club House is to be opened by another distinguished soldier and administrator. I have now the honour and pleasure of asking Your Excellency to declare these premises open.”

Governor’s Speech

Before declaring the Club open, His Excellency said: “May I first thank the Commodore for the very kind terms in which he has welcomed me here this evening on my first appearance as an Honorary Member of the Club. I realise that the honour you do me in asking me to open the new Club House is due to my position in the Colony (laughter) and not, I fear, to any claim I may have to being a yachtsman. None the less, I appreciate the honour… “ – His Excellency stopped short when an explosion shook the room, the flash-bulb of a photographer having exploded. His Excellency said jokingly “That’s my second gun today!” “I appreciate the honour,” he continued, “and am both pleased and proud to have this opportunity of taking part in this ceremony this evening. I have, as I say, no claim to being a yachtsman; if yachting were all what has been my in the Commodore’s yacht this afternoon things might be different, but when I remember the miseries of sea-sickness I have suffered sometimes when small-boat sailing with my brothers off the south coast of England, then I have to confess – though I fear you will despise me for it – that nature did not intend me for a sailor! (Laughter) After some of those excursions in rough weather I was rather like the soldiers of whom I have heard in an old eighteenth century combined naval and military operation. The soldiers, in red tunics complete, were reduced to lying full length under the thwarts in a condition of coma, and as the boats grounded and the moment for death r glory had arrived, they had to be stimulated into action by the sailors adjuring them to “wake up you lobsters and crawl out.”” (Laughter).

The Taimoshan

For all that I have always believed small-boat sailing to be one of the finest games in the world, and when it comes to the classic ocean voyage in open boats, no one is a greater admirer than I am of the performances of Captain Bligh, or Shackleton, to mention two only, to which may be added the achievement of your own Taimoshan built in dockyards in Hongkong and sailed home across the pacific and Atlantic – a striking testimonial not only to design and construction in Hongkong dockyards but to seamanship as practiced in Hongkong waters.

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