It was an activity that made a lot of sense for the school’s waterfront access, appealing to the boys, the parents and Hamish Simpson, the new headmaster. He had wanted to include the activity for several years but it was cost-prohibitive until $3000 was raised to purchase four fibreglass Flying Junior sailing boats. After efforts by the Auxiliary, private donations and a “Glenlyon Bond”, the money was raised and the first year’s lessons were taught by three well-qualified parents: Rear-Admiral Finch-Noyes, Commodore Quinn, and Commander Mills. Commander Eric Makovski, who had joined the staff in 1959, saw that the boats were well maintained, kept all the accounts straight, and is reputed to have even fished for salmon from the committee boat while a new instructor, Mr. McManus was teaching the boys.
As the programme progressed, a variety of experienced enthusiasts from outside school, two of whom were the young Jenny Charlesworth, now BC’s Child and Youth Advocate and Penny Stamper, a future Olympic sailor in 1992 and 1996 took over the instruction. The programme fostered a love and expertise for many enthusiastic students overseen by the likes of Phil Foster (now owner of Westcoast Adventure College), and former staff Bob Britten and Doug Tyrrell.
Bob Britten came on staff in 1981 as a computer science teacher but also with a wealth of sailing experience. He had been the sports coordinator at the Shawnigan Lake Resort while completing his educational path at UVic. His coaching led to particular success for Glenlyon sailors at ISA Regattas and BC Youth Championships in the early ‘80s and his own personal successes included a World title in the Corinthian class in 1998.
Under the guidance of Doug Tyrrell within the Marine Adventure Programme, the sailing programme moved gradually away from a competitive one to one of sailing proficiency as an integral part of the Outdoor Education Programme, which eventually moved to the instructor support and programming of the Royal Victoria Sailing Club. It was through that association that competitive opportunities reemerged.
Overall, the legacy of this activity has not only been in the proficiency of many young “argonauts” but also in the successes of many of its participants at the local, provincial, national and international levels. Bob Tennant(‘87), Derk Wolmuth(‘87), Ty Whittaker(‘89), Justin Chant(‘91), Matt Taddy(‘99), John Benskin(‘99), Cam Wallace(‘18), Siobhan(‘19) and Tara Golonka(‘21), Kelley(‘21) and Grace Poole(‘21) are but a few of the young Glenlyon/GNS-ers who immediately come to mind and have ‘sailed the seas’ with great success. Siobhan, Tara and Grace are the latest in a line of outstanding sailors from GNS with their eyes on the Olympics. So by using an old adage from that now-defunct boxing programme, we hope they don’t pull any punches to get there. Go Gryphons!