BSSBOC History since foundation in 1980

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An inspection of the oldest records reveals that the original idea of forming a club to represent the interests of power boat owners and water skiers came from John Leaf, a bank manager with Barclays Bank in Leicester.

On 1st May 1979 John wrote a letter to Dr Richard Hughes and some fifteen other people who were then power boat owners or had, at some time, owned a ski boat. His letter advised, at some length that at a meeting in the spring of 1979 The National Trust Brancaster Harbour Local Management Committee had agreed to impose a 6mph speed limit in Mow Creek and the channel from the hard to West Point and also in the vicinity of moored boats. It was the speed restriction in the area of any moored boats which concerned John the most as, in effect, this would prohibit water skiing in the protected area of the outer harbour.

John suggested that those with an interest in skiing and power boat owners should form a properly constituted Power Boat Club with a representative for The National Trust Brancaster Harbour Local Management Committee.

The reply from Dr Richard Hughes, who was a GP in Dereham and shared a power boat with Ted Greey, was highly supportive. He volunteered to pay a subscription and suggested that whosoever was appointed secretary should be “local” to Brancaster in order that our representative could attend the Harbour Management meetings. Little did he realise that he would become that person.

In August of 1980 a meeting was called by Jonathan Martin Smith at the Brancaster Staithe Village Hall to discuss power boat use in the Harbour. Among the topics discussed was the assumption that there was enough space in the harbour for power boats and therefore something had to be done to protect their activities. At this meeting it was proposed that a club should be formed and officers were duly elected. A circular letter was issued by Jonathan Martin Smith dated 5th January 1981 advising that Brancaster Staithe Harbour was about to become subject to Bye Laws to be imposed by The Norfolk County Council. He warned that two of the clauses would seriously inconvenience power boat users as an 8 mph speed limit was to be imposed on all water from 200 yards outside the low water mark and that any person behaving recklessly would be warned or taken to court.

The letter further advised that Dr Woodsend, who was Chairman of The Harbour Committee, had been fighting the imposition of the speed limit because enforcement would be difficult. It appeared that there were to be further discussions and that Jonathan Martin Smith wished to form a power boat owners club so that the owners thereof had some voice in matters relating to their continued use of the harbour. He suggested that, as he was living in Ringstead, he would be available to attend meetings and that he looked forward to replies from those interested by 10th February.

Progress appeared swift after that circular as the next file revealed a letter from Jonathan Martin Smith to Ted Greey with a copy of the minutes of the initial meeting of The Brancaster Staithe Speed Boat Owners Club. The appointed officers were: 

Chairman Jonathan Martin Smith
Treasurer John Leaf
Secretary James Keith


The committee had prepared a detailed list of aims and regulations, the most important of which were “to protect the interests of speedboat owners within Brancaster Staithe and to help the local Harbour Management Committee in controlling speed boating”. The letter to Ted Greey was dated 23rd April 1981. The subscription requested was £10.

Ted Greey promptly wrote to Richard Hughes informing him of the formation of The Club and suggested he also support it. In that letter of May 1981 Ted also commented on the then cost of new propellers at around £70 and that great care would have to be taken with them.

Later reports suggest that there were eighteen initial registered boat members.

In 1982 the members were listed as: 


Member Boat Number   Member Boat Number
J Martin Smith  101   J H Leaf  102 
J E Keith 103   A J Borthwick  104 
C A Butterfield  105   W E A Fox   106
 J R Garner  107   Grey Hughes   108
 H W Myers  109   Miss K P Oswald  111 
C N Weatherby   112   S C Harrison  113 
D M Traherene  114    D W Thorne   115
B W Pym 116    G K A Smith  118 
P P Jones  119    B P Naylor  120 
S J Grundy   121   R G Mowbray 122 
 C A Dobney  123      

 The maximum number of members was fixed at 24

John Snelling was listed without a number and became an Honorary Member.

Jonathan Martin Smith retired as Chairman in 1983 when he moved to Johannesburg and was replaced by John Garner until his ill health in 1985 when Geoff Smith took over the role. Dr Richard Hughes was appointed Secretary of The Club in 1985 and with the support of Dr Woodsend was given representation on The Harbour Management Committee. He was to continue in the office as Secretary for many years until Thomas Olesen took over the reins in 2001.

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Thomas Olesen has acted as secretary/treasurer since 2001 and has managed the club conscientiously and diligently to keep it in the good state that it is today. The role of the BSSBOC continues to be that of making sure its members respect all codes of Brancaster Staithe Harbour and that its members are represented on the Brancaster Staithe Fairways Committee (the committee overseeing all harbour use).


The Officers who have guided The Club over the years to date are as follows:


  • 1981-1983 Jonathan Martin Smith 
  • 1983-1985 John Garner 
  • 1985-1991 Geoff Smith 
  • 1991-2001 Johnnie Clarke
  • 2001-2007 Jim Howard
  • 2007-2009 Jonathan Martin Smith
  • 2009-2012 Stewart Oliver
  • 2012-2018 Dougie Herbert


  • 1981-1985 James Keith
  • 1985-2001 Dr Richard Hughes
  • 2001-2018 Thomas Olesen


The name of the club was changed to Brancaster Staithe Ski Boat Owners Club in 2008 to reflect the fact that its focus is on boat owners who use their boats for towing sports in the harbour rather than fishing or going to the beach.

Copies of the Club rules and British Wake Waterski Federation regulations and International Regulations Preventing Collisions at Sea are available here on our website, as are The Brancaster Harbour bye laws.

(Our thanks to Jim Howard for reading through the archives to extract this history for our website.)