The club originated in early 1975, when the Thames Water Authority called a meeting at Slough Town Hall. This was to discuss use of sporting facilities at their soon to be completed reservoir at Datchet.
A disparate group, several hundred strong, turned up. They represented a wide range of interests from golf to caravans, horse riding to sailing. The sailors were later called to a meeting on May 28th, 1975 at Datchet Mead Hotel, at which volunteers were sought to form a Steering Committee to negotiate a ‘Head of Agreement’ with the Thames Water Authority and to organize the proposed club.
The Steering Committee of eleven, under the Chairmanship of Vincent Blake, and representing Sports Council, The Royal Yachting Association and the volunteers who had been elected at Datchet Mead Hotel; met for the first time at Bisham Abbey on June 23rd 1975, later meetings were held at the Holiday Inn Hotel. Having no funds, for stationary and the like, would-be members of the club were invited to ‘donate a fiver’ to prime the pump, raising some £650. With no clubhouse and no agreement as yet, a Newsletter ‘Datchat’ was launched to keep people in touch while the long process of negotiation was started with Thames Water Authority. The Steering Committee started putting a club together from nothing – an organization had to be planned, rules written and subscriptions worked out. The selection and purchase of buoys to race round, piers and pontoons to launch from, Committee Boat, rescue boats, flags etc, all very time consuming. A burgee had to be designed – it represents, to quote the original ‘Datchat’:
“The Water of the Reservoir, with the white strip its edge and the sky above. The castle is the round tower of Windsor Castle, one of the few buildings that can be seen from the clubhouse.”
On February 29th 1976 (a leap year, so the club only has a birthday once every 4 years) the first meeting was called in the near complete clubhouse at which the club was formally set up – with the Steering Committee, or six of them being elected to Council. Those present were invited to join the club and in a very short time membership was on forecast and well in the hundreds. Club sailing started a few weeks later. To pay its way Datchet had to be a large club, it is now one of the largest in the country with a membership of over 400. Founders of the club, mostly having come from small local ones, were determined on two things: one to maintain the friendliness they were used to, secondly not to let any preconceived ideas or class of boat dominate. They wanted the club to develop in the ways that its members wanted. So today – the big fleets are the boats members want to sail. There are minimal restrictions so members have a reasonable choice of classes from which to choose.
Datchet has grown since its formation in 1976, into one of the most successful sailing clubs in the country. Within its 3.2 mile boundary, which is 66 feet above the surrounding ground level, there are some 475 acres of sailing water (8,300 million gallons when London is not too thirsty!). It is deep – 75 feet maximum and offers excellent sailing.
The club is managed for its members by a Council consisting of four Flag Officers – Commodore, Vice-Commodore and two Rear Commodores, The Honorary Treasurer and nine Council Members; all elected from the membership at the Annual General Meeting held each year in November, on the second Wednesday of the month.
Council delegates to the paid Secretariat and to the various club committees authority to run their respective parts of the club and they in turn answer to and report back to the Council.
Thus Datchet continues to evolve, as it started, as its members wish.