This club first started as a social ski club back in 1960 with a few people who had boats meeting on the beach which is now the site of the Outer Harbour of the Cardiff Bay Barrage.
In 1962 the club moved to Penarth beach where there was a slipway, and there we stay to this day. Howard Smith joined in 62 at the age of nine and remained a member half a century later. People like Dal Spinola 1964 and Dave Silver 1968 have taken the name of Penarth (Wales) Water Ski Club round the world in Water Ski Racing, producing many European, British National, Welsh and Regional champions.
In 1976 we had 90 boat members and were one of the biggest clubs in the country but had nothing material to show for it apart from an extended slipway and a small shower block but we had club spirit and wherever we went, Red jackets to the fore, everybody knew the Welsh were there. 70 boats all lined along the beach for a Welsh Grand Prix, Waves pounding over the sea wall when we were supposed to be racing.
Then the oil crisis hit that was the time we started losing members. A multi-storey car park was built which the club probably should have had shares in given the amount of money paid for parking, although some members did find a way to get two cars out at a time. We had our shower block there, the cafe was at times reliant on us as we were the only ones daft enough to be on the seafront.
Penarth was the top Waterski Racing club in Britain.
By the 90’s we were down to 15/20 boats with only a handful racing and a few using the slipway for social skiing. At that time the only serious forms of water skiing were Tournament, Disabled, Cable and Racing. Our coastal location meant that Tournament and Cable skiing were out of the question so it was natural that we would continue racing but we had to try and get more people interested in skiing. With funding we bought a club boat in the hope that it would get people interested, it did to a certain degree, but one of the major stumbling blocks again was the clubs location and the tide and water conditions which made teaching people more difficult.
Many ways were tried to get people on the water and many hours were spent by people sitting on the beach waiting to teach people. At the same time changes were taking place along Penarth seafront, firstly the multi-storey car park was demolished and all it left us with were a few rough bits of concrete where the pillars used to be and a car park for 4 or 5 cars if we’re clever.
The sea wall defences have been reinforced and has left its mark on the slipway and taken away the areas the families of the club gather to watch their folk and children playing on their boats. The building of the barrage has affected the wave patterns on the beach and this in turn has altered the structure of the beach, more stones less sand.
These are all memories, the older members of this club can and will talk about for a long time, it is our heritage, but time has come for the Penarth (Wales) Water ski club to move into the 21st Century.