Member Profile: Marian Harkness

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Member Profile: Marian Harkness

A familiar face around the Yacht Club, and awarded volunteer of the year at our Prize Giving earlier this year, Marian Harkness has been involved with RAYC for 40 years! We asked Marian to fill out a short questionnaire so that we might learn a little more about her time with RAYC.

When did you first become involved with RAYC and if you sail, when did you first start sailing?
I joined RAYC around 1976 when my late husband and I had a trailer-sailer. Learnt to sail on the Thames in Barnes UK in an International 14 in my late 20s.

Who first introduced you to RAYC and why did you stay?
Forgotten who. Stayed to launch/retrieve our yacht but didn’t use the Clubhouse until a year after my husband died when I was put on a Committee concerning the Patrol boat.

Who would you say was your biggest inspiration from RAYC?
Several, including John Muir, Fred Price, Don St Clair Brown.

In your time as a member at RAYC, what have you been involved in?
2008/9 Chairman of House Committee for a few years. Rear Commodore 2010 and member of General Committee. Also member of General Committee whilst publishing Pahi Tere. Was Public Relations Officer for the Club for several years in the 1990s, sending out press releases on races and published Pahi Tere magazine 1995-1998 (December) (writing, taking photos, editing submitted articles, selling advertising).

What boats (if any) have you owned/sailed on?
Owned with husband: Trojan Glen Shee and later a Markline Powerboat Katan. Crewed regularly for Craig Ansley on Crocus (Cruising Division); crewed on Tony Polhill’s Farr 38, Flight Path. Cruised and raced on Cotton Blossom II (Doug & Vonnie France) and still do when we can but she is based in the Bay of Islands. Would love to sail more often!

What do you currently put your efforts into at RAYC?
Historian/Archivist. Involves finding volunteers and holding monthly meetings and Working Bees to sort out material; researching and writing biographies of key RAYC members or ex-members; holding yearly Reunions to get “old timers” together and obtain archival memorabilia. Have allotted certain 5 year periods to volunteers to research and produce copies for our special hard disc (I have done 10 years myself). Much time is spent talking to “old sea salts” on the phone. Our team are preparing for bubblewrapping wall hangings including the ½ models for storage in a container whilst the rebuild is taking place. We research and write a weekly article for the Newsletter and send a report to the General Committee monthly.

Marian with Silver Medalist RAYC members Peter Burling & Blair Tuke

What do you enjoy most about being a member at RAYC?
Conversing with friends or acquaintances with similar interests.

What is the most memorable moment, on or off the water, for you involving RAYC?
1) Being the Media person for our centenary day in 1995 and talking to the Duke of Edinburgh.
2) Crewing for Graeme Collie on Phew in a Cruising race. I was helming whilst Graeme was sleeping off after a late night and I decided to take a few photos of my partner’s two teenage daughters who were on board. Unfortunately that meant we drifted off course and didn’t win the race. Graeme has never forgotten or forgiven me!!

What is your fondest memory of RAYC?
Maybe keeping the secret from Dafanie Goldsmith (previously Patten) of her upcoming award of a Life Membership, persuading her to attend the Prizegiving and seeing her astonished reactions.

At the AGM held on Tuesday 25th August 2015, Marian was awarded Life Membership to RAYC. Thank you Marian for all your hard work over the years, you have done and are continuing to do a fantastic job for the Yacht Club!


The RAYC Archives Team


  • To research RAYC history from its origins in 1895 by PapersPast and from 1945 through the Public Library and Maritime Library, personal recollections and input from past and present members. This material is being entered on a hard drive and will feature resumés of individual years with key names of people and yachts.
  • To produce a book based on the above which will be available to view online or at the new Clubhouse and available for sale.
  • To send historical information to the office for the website.
  • To research and compile biographies of key members past and present.
  • To sort out archival material, document on computer with identification on object and on paper. Material to be ready for packing into container before April which is when the demolition of the building is expected to start.
    NB: The designer of the new building is aware of our requirements and storage, library, computer access to history, etc. has been identified.

The Archives Team’s Achievements to date:

Paintings/Framed Photos:
These have been sorted, numbered and labelled with description and dimensions, corners affixed and each covered with bubblewrap. Details are also on computer and on file. There are 210 items stored in a dry, secure warehouse which will not be sorted until the move to the new building. They include 123 framed photos and files on races, etc.

The Bunker was cleared of much Office material and a Dehumidifier was installed as soon as photographs were found stuck together. Some photos were taken to Fotofiddlers but were not able to be separated. The roof was sealed on small places and the ceiling is now being checked. The Bunker has been sorted, labelled boxes and contents on computer and paper. Material given to the Club at the Reunions has been checked.
The Bunkerette (ex Toilet) was cleared of washbasins etc and shelves erected. The idea is to keep this for all checked material. The Pahi Tere magazines have been put in East Light folders and clearly labelled and stored in the Bunkerette. Other material (mainly in boxes) has been also labelled and is in the Bunkerette.

Cups and Trophies:
There is a book with photos of Cups plus details. Wendy and her daughter Jenny have checked with the book and actual trophies. After this year’s Prizegiving the cups and trophies went for engraving, then to be value assessed. All will be wrapped and stored.

We are accumulating a good library of books which have been recorded on computer and on paper, identified in title and by author in alphabetical order with donator added.

Prominent Yachties/Designers/Boat Builders/Commodores, etc:
Dossiers are being compiled and include Laurie Davidson, Joe Patrick, “Wilkie” Wilkinson (regarded as our founder), Owen Reid, Harry Pope and Bill Hursthouse.

We have held Reunions which have been successful both from the point of view of being given material and identifying faces to names but also because of the pleasure of people meeting up with long lost friends. We now have a current database of names and contact details. The present Reunion will be the last in the present Clubhouse as demolition starts in August this year. Those who were either present at the turning of the first sod in 1953 or are relatives, will be invited at the same function for the new Clubhouse.

A list of Half-Models around the Club has been made.

Centennial Book:
Corrections which were not identified before publication, have been made to one copy for Archival purposes.

20 years Research has been stored on the hard disc and other 5 years periods have been assigned to volunteers. Volunteers are working on research (PapersPast until 1945, then Libraries, magazines, internet, etc).

Several projects have been allocated to Volunteers, such as trophies, interviews with older members, yacht class research, etc.

Each week a short snippet (sometimes with photo) is sent to RAYC containing archival information gleaned.

A report is sent to the General Committee every month.

August 24th, 2015|Categories: All News, Member Profile|

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