Sailing has a reputation as being an elite sport which is just for the wealthy and famous.
But that is something which Burntisland Sailing Club is keen to dispell, and its members hope that its plans to transform the town’s east dock to welcome more visitors will help to encourage more people to give it a go.
The club, which started off with just a handful of members in a shed at the Lammerlaws over 60 years ago, now has over 90 members.
And over the last six months it has doubled the size of its boatyard in the east dock, which is now home to around 40 boats of all sizes.
In the coming weeks it will install a 60 metre long pontoon along the west wall of the east dock with fingers to provide mooring for 14 boats, and an easy access ramp.
The installation means that, if necessary, the RNLI will be able to land emergency evacuations there at any time, providing a safe landing facility which is not currently available.
The club hopes it will also broaden the interest in sailing, rowing and other water sports, with the possiblity of a rowing club starting up in the future.
The application has been granted by Fife Council planners, subject to conditions, and the club hopes that the pontoon will be in place by mid-April, when a crane is hired to move all the boats into the water, with everything up and running in time for the summer months.
Sarah Price, the club’s commodore, formerly ran a sailing club from the Isle of Wight along the Devon and Cornwall coast, after becoming involved in sailing while at university.
“Burntisland is different from many other harbours because it has water around the clock so we are not reliant on tides to sail,” she explained.
“Anyone could sail from here at any time if they wanted to, which is a great advantage.
“In the past six months we’ve doubled the size of our boatyard and membership is increasing as people hear about our great facilities.”
The club has raised £74,500 for the new project, with grants from Fife Environmental Trust, Fife Council’s Locality Fund, Burntisland Common Good Fund. the Lottery and Babcock which ran a special apprentice project to help with the pontoon refurbishment.
“Everyone has been doing their bit, which has always been the case with the club, and this has helped to cut our costs considerably,” said Sarah.
Burntisland Sailing Club was started by a group of workers at the Burntisland shipyard who wanted to sail for leisure in their spare time.
They started up a club in a shed on the town’s Lammerlaws and it grew from there.
During the early 1980s the members designed built their own clubhouse from scratch on land at the east docks.
All members chipped in to make this happen but one of the previous commodores, the late Jim Leuchars, was a particular driving force behind the construction as he owned a building firm in Burntisland.
The clubhouse was opened by the Minister for Sport in 1982.
Now the members hope that the new facilities along with the recent surge in interest in watersports will continue to see its numbers grow.
Martin Blankenstein, a long time member, said: “Our aim is to revitalise the dock area and we hope putting in the new pontoon will encourage visitors from near and far.”
Grant Blair, vice commodore, added: “When people know that there is somewhere they can go where they are ensured a warm welcome then they will come to visit us.
“It will hopefully help the prosperity of the town by bringing in people.”
Sarah Price, commodore, said: “We have great facilities here and we want to build on that to ensure the club survives.
“We’ve been here over 60 years and we want the club to still be here in another 60 years.”