The history of the PLSA goes back over 80 years and appears directly linked to the development of the Victory Class in Portsmouth. The organisation reputedly stems from an idea generated by a retired naval officer, Lieutenant-commander J. G. Kimber, to form an organisation to unite and promote all the sailing interests in Portsmouth Harbour.
In January 1934 some 40 local yachtsmen founded the Portsmouth Harbour Racing and Sailing Association. At the inaugural meeting in the George Hotel in Portsmouth were such illustrious persons as Admiral Sir John Kelly, C-in-C Portsmouth, and Alderman Sir Harold Pink, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth who both became Patrons to the organisation. Also present was Mr Harry Brickwood of Southsea, who was elected President. He became a prominent X Class helmsman and continued to be deeply interested in the class until his death.
The object of the association was to be “the encouragement of good racing and the development of facilities for sailing men, notably the introduction of a harbour one design, and in the sore question of moorings.” The “harbour one design” was based on an Isle of Wight design and became the Victory Class.
Over the years the organisation grew and developed. A series of regattas were organised and Solent port to port races staged. The one design concept came to fruition, and more one design classes emerged. A system of handicapping boats according to performance, not just length was developed. The association became a powerful body “to sort out the moorings problem once and for all”.
Although some of the original visions turned out to be a little fanciful, the association continued to represent the interest of local sailors and eventually brought in the Langstone Harbour clubs to further the influence of the organisation. It was at this stage that it became the Portsmouth and Langstone Sailing Association.
Whilst the association did continue to promote sailing interests in both harbours for many years, enthusiasm waned and activities declined. For a period during the 1980s the PLSA existed in name only, although the posts of president secretary and treasurer remained filled.
In 1990, the PLSA was revitalised and following several meetings during the year, a revised constitution was adopted at the AGM held in October at Langstone Sailing Club. That constitution remains today and gave rise to the two divisions and structure of association officers.
Interestingly it is recorded that from the point of view of the Langstone Harbour Board, the continued existence of the P&LSA was essential as it was one of the bodies designated under the Langstone Harbour Revision Order 1985 to nominate representatives to the Langstone Harbour Advisory Committee.
The PLSA represents the views of its member clubs on a variety of bodies such as RYA (Southern), the Sports Council, the Langstone Harbour Board, Portsmouth Environmental Forum, the Dockyard Port Forum and in several other important and influential settings.
Although the racing activities of the organisation have now almost ceased, the regular meetings of both divisions continue to be well attended. The Moorings sub-committee continues to bring the face of realism to the negotiations with Crown Estates thus maintaining reasonable mooring fees and amply illustrating the value of collective rather than individual bargaining. The Associations year book has migrated with the march of technology to become the association web site.
Thus the Portsmouth and Langstone Sailing Association remains a highly influential body which continues to represent and to promote the sailing interests of all boat owners within its member clubs and organisations.