In 1978 Somerset Local Education Authority stopped funding many of it’s sporting activities, sailing included. To maintain a sailing provision Somerset Schools & Community Sailing Association (SSCSA) was born out of the ashes of the LEA withdrawal.
The first recorded minutes of the Association are from the inaugural meeting on 25th January 1978. Here we must thank Admiral Sir Mark Pizey whose knowledge and contacts removed the barriers to the initial formation of the Association. The first Principal was A.S.C. Moore, Gus to his friends. Gus was a short man who stood out in a crowd, he and our next Principals Dennis Aston and Ron Burdon, guided the Association through its first faltering steps into a flourishing sailing group.
Originally SSCSA was based at Hawkridge reservoir together with the Hawkridge Sailing Club. When in 1992, Wessex Water offered a change of reservoir, the 2 groups moved together from Hawkridge to Durleigh reservoir, and Durleigh Sailing Club was formed.
In the early days, there were 2 parts to SSCSA, a Dinghy Section and a Cruising Section. Due to funding difficulties, the latter had to be wound up in 1995, and a new group was formed. We are now called Somerset Youth & Community Sailing Association, often shortened to SYCSA. The first recorded meeting of SYCSA was on 16th May 1995.
The Association was granted Charitable status in 1996, which allowed us access to a wider range of funds. At that time we were concerned about our future, funding was low, our boats were getting old, and spirits were down, but we had a thriving Saturday Club, and a nucleus of eager volunteer Instructors and helpers.
At this point we wrote a development plan and with the support of Durleigh Sailing Club and Wessex Water, we approached the Lottery Sports Fund for money for the “Fleet 2000” project. Our successful bid allowed SYCSA to purchase a new fleet of boats and look forward to a brighter future. Further projects Fleet 2000 and Beyond and Beyond Fleet 2000 firmly restored SYCSA to good health.
Durleigh Sailing Club and SYCSA working together, were rewarded provisional Volvo Champion Club status in 1999. In 2008 SYCSA was awarded RYA Sailabilty Foundation status followed in 2010 by full RYA OnBoard status and in 2011 we gained full RYA Volvo Champion Club status.
In 2002 Ron and Dennis Aston (Past Presidents) were honoured by the RYA, with two of the first RYA Awards for Work in the Community. In 2003 Maggie Heath & Eric Watts of SYCSA were also recognized for their work and honoured in the next round of the RYA awards.
2005 saw Sian Sedgwick-Wilde presented with an RYA Community award for her work with the Saturday Club. In the same year Ian York was presented with the O2 award for his work in the sailing community.
In 2007 Lisa Hodge who started sailing with our Saturday Club, become RYA Dinghy Instructor of the Year. 2007 also saw Pete Branson become runner up in the “Unsung Hero” category in the BBC West Sports Awards of the Year. Pete was also received a RYA award for his Work in the Community in 2009.
Our members have taught sailing all over the world; from Australia to the West Indies, Camp America to Turkey, and for holiday companies such as Sunsail and Neilsons. We even have members who are working in the boat design industry in Canada.
Since 2008 we have been encouraging youngsters to try racing dinghies, mostly Toppers and Optimists. Several youngsters have been selected for RYA squads throughout the years. In 2012/13 we launched “Enable Youth Racing”, with the aim to give all youngsters the opportunity to race at local or national level with no or little cost to themselves.
In 2013 SYCSA amended its Constitution, which allowed us to become SYCSA (2013) a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.